Who Will Drop Out After Super Tuesday 3? One Presidential Campaign Has Finally Flatlined

And then, there were... well, it's not clear just yet! On Tuesday night, the Republican presidential primary process hit an entirely new gear, thanks to the massive winner-take-all primaries in Ohio and Florida. The voters headed to the polls to make their feelings known, and it ended up being a lot like what the polls suggested heading in — a big, race-defining win for Donald Trump in Florida, and a campaign-prolonging win for John Kasich in Ohio. Which, of course, raises a very predictable question: who will drop out after Super Tuesday 3?

If one thing was painfully, transparently clear, it's that there's no path forward for the Republican Party's anti-Trump factions to actually beat the billionaire businessman at the ballot box, unless some people bite the bullet and take the fall. Heading into Tuesday, the situations for the two last hopes of the Republican establishment were dire — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich were both facing huge deficits in the delegate count, and had perilously little claim to a credible, foreseeable path to the nomination (absent a contested convention, that is).

And after the polls close and the votes were counted on Tuesday night, things got much better for the latter, and completely flatlined for the former.

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Rubio, banking the last traces of life in his presidential campaign on winning his home state of Florida, came up empty — he got positively whacked by Trump. And just minutes after the Florida loss was officially called by the media, the senator took to the stage and suspended his presidential campaign, bringing his underwhelming quest for the White House to an end. In other words, Rubio campaign adviser Todd Harris probably wishes he hadn't sent this tweet!

As for Kasich, however, things went much better, with his home state of Ohio carrying him to a decisive, potentially narrative-shifting victory. As it stands now, having actually notched a win in a delegate-rich, winner-take-all state, and one absolutely crucial to the GOP's presidential chances in November, Kasich well and truly leapfrogged Rubio in the primary race, and figures to continue to jockey for position against his closest rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

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And for Kasich, with this momentum at his back, it's time to fully commit to the only strategy that holds any chance of him becoming the nominee, which means running hard in each and every state and denying Trump the delegate majority he needs.

Of course, if one thing's been clear, it's that nobody in this presidential field has seemed eager to bow out just because of math, or decorum, or even the long-term health of the Republican Party. Personal influence, ego, and animus have seemingly played a role so far, so there was no guarantee that Rubio or Kasich would cut the cord, even if they lost narrowly. Now, however, Rubio has dropped out and Kasich appears in it for the long haul. Whether that's a good idea depends entirely on what strategy the party wants to take going forward — if it's all about denying Trump delegates, he should stay in for as long as he possibly can.