MANCHESTER, N.H.— For John Kasich and Chris Christie, even the dream scenario here is followed by a monthlong nightmare.
Both camps have all along banked on a strong showing in New Hampshire to provide a springboard, but even if they beat expectations Tuesday, there’s trouble ahead: a plunge immediately into a string of states inhospitable to their brand of centrist politics. Conservative South Carolina and unpredictable Nevada await, followed by the dozen, mostly Southern states that have turned March 1 into this cycle’s “super Tuesday.”
The trail doesn’t get any easier until mid-March, and to survive until then, the candidates’ have a two-pronged plan: hope that neither Ted Cruz nor Donald Trump can build an insurmountable lead by consolidating the race’s outsider support, and work to pick up delegates on the margins, even in states where they have little hope of winning outright.
But as they scramble to keep competitive, both camps will be haunted by their all-in investments in New Hampshire. Neither has built up a significant organization in the states that will jointly make up this cycle’s version of “super Tuesday,” and outsider observers are openly skeptical that, wherever they finish in New Hampshire, either has the pieces in place to make headway in the month ahead.
“Even with an infusion of new money, there’s no switch to flip to prepare a campaign virtually overnight for the battle for 674 delegates [on] March 1 and what comes quickly afterwards,” said Henry Barbour, a Republican operative from Mississippi.
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