Ted Cruz Is Officially The Republican To Take On Donald Trump — Sorry, Marco Rubio

On Saturday night, you may not have learned that much more about who's going to win the Republican nomination, but you sure learned something about who the power players are. And at the end of the night, it proved to be the same two men who were jockeying for position after Super Tuesday ― pugnacious businessman Donald Trump, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, while Florida senator Marco Rubio had yet another disastrous, virtually disqualifying night. In other words: Ted Cruz is the Republican to take on Trump, whether the Republican establishment likes it or not.

Back in the spring of 2015, when the presidential election cycle was slowly rumbling to a start, you probably couldn't have envisioned a scenario in which the GOP would be rooting ― or at the very least, holding their noses with a crooked smirk ― for Cruz, who's by all accounts one of the most disliked people in the Senate. Indeed, this isn't some kind of partisan affair, as even his fellow Republicans have found plenty of negative things to say about him.

And yet, that's the position the party now finds itself in, provided they want to find some way, any way to halt The Rise Of Trump. As it stands now, the delegate counts in the GOP race stood at 382 for Trump, 300 for Cruz, and a relatively dismal 128 for Rubio, who performed so poorly on Saturday night that he got shut out in Maine altogether, and only scooped up 18 delegates in Kansas, Kentucky and Louisiana combined.

In other words, the dream is dead. Unless, that is, Rubio could somehow notch a comeback win in his home state of Florida, but even then, he'd only be making it that much more impossible for any of the Republican candidates to secure the delegate majority they need to claim the nomination outright. That may be a goal for the GOP establishment at this point, since it's one possible avenue to derail Trump if his run of success holds up, but it also risks throwing the party's pro-Trump faction into a fervor, fracturing the party just as badly as a Trump win would.

In other words, the best course forward for the GOP (accepting that Cruz won't drop out, and considering he's actually winning states, why should he) would be for Rubio and Kasich to cut their losses and drop out. There's absolutely no sign that's happening, however, which means Trump will potentially remain competitive in Florida and Ohio ― two states that could spell game over for the field, if he wins. And considering that Rubio keeps going around calling Trump a "con man," well, shouldn't that be more important to the heart and soul of a real patriot than simple ego? Keeping a con man out of the White House?

Suffice to say, if the GOP wants to stop Trump, they better hope he can pick up some steam throughout the month of March. There are still contests in 11 more states this month ― the next ones will be going down on March 8th, with the Republican Hawaii caucuses, and primaries in Idaho, Michigan, and Mississippi.