With all the votes cast and counted, South Carolina voters have spoken on the matter of which Republican candidate they prefer. And they preferred Donald Trump by a considerable margin. Meanwhile, they gave only marginal consideration to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Jeb took the hint, dropping out of the race not long after the writing on the wall had been underscored.
And so, this once-boisterous field of Republican candidates has been whittled down from its debate-stage-busting heights (remember how there were 17 of them?) to a more manageable handful of candidates. And yet, unless some other candidates follow Jeb's lead, the anti-Trump wing of the Republican Party might not be able to stop him, because they'll still lack a figure to coalesce around.
It’s an open question whether any member of the surviving quintet is going to quit now. The hard reality of losing doesn't always sink in immediately. Between the time we write this and the time you read it, other candidates could elect to self-deport themselves from the race. But with large reservoirs of donor money available, even the candidates who look like no-hopers can keep their zombie campaigns shambling well into March.
Nevertheless, we have a duty to perform -- someone has to tell the truth about who will get out of the race, and who should get out of the race. At this point, those really are two separate questions, and on this week’s First To Last, we’ll look at the remaining GOP candidates and answer those questions for them.