What Donald Trump's Rivals Need to Do to Catch Up

PHOTO: Marco Rubio speaks in Nevada, Feb. 21, Donald Trump speaks in South Carolina, Feb. 18, 2016, Ted Cruz speaks in South Carolina, Feb. 17, and John Kasich speaks in South Carolina, Feb. 18, 2016.PlayGetty Images
WATCH Donald Trump Wins GOP Nevada Caucuses

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump celebrated his resounding victory in Tuesday’s Nevada caucuses, but almost as soon as he declared “we're winning, winning,” he was already thinking bigger.

“It's going to be an amazing two months,” he said. “We might not even need the two months folks, to be honest, right?”

The GOP front-runner’s confidence makes sense: With three straight wins, he looks increasingly likely to be on a glide path to land the Republican nomination.

But there’s still hope for some of his rivals, and here’s a look at what they would need to do to catch up to Trump:

Rubio: The Candidate Who Needs to Clear the Field

Sen. Marco Rubio needs to start winning.

With the first four nominating contests in the rear-view mirror and no victories to show for it, a Rubio nomination would defy existing precedent that every eventual nominee has won at least one of the early states.

"If we don't come together, we're never going to be able to provide a clear alternative to the direction that Donald Trump wants to take the Republican Party and the country,” Rubio said this morning on Fox News.

Without a clear state to win on Super Tuesday (March 1), Rubio now has all his chips on his home state of Florida, an absolute must-win that doesn’t come until March 15.

"We have a dynamic where as long as there are four people running, dividing up the non-Trump vote, you'll get results like last night,” he said in an interview with NBC News. “The sooner we can narrow the race down, the easier it'll be to stop Donald Trump.”

Cruz: Don’t Mess With Texas

In his speech Tuesday night, which was less a celebration and more an acknowledgement of his third-place finish, Sen. Ted Cruz seemed almost relieved to put the caucuses behind him.

“I want to thank the great people of Nevada,” the Texas senator said, “and I want to say I cannot wait to get home to the great state of Texas.”

The Lone Star State is Cruz’s life support for a campaign that’s struggling to remain an alternative to the Donald. And he’s getting a shot in the arm today from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who will endorse him.

At stake when Texans head to the polls on Super Tuesday are a whopping 251 delegates up for the taking. It’s a must-win for the home-state senator.

Kasich: A Miracle in Michigan

After a surprising second-place finish in New Hampshire, Ohio Gov. John Kasich has struggled in more conservative states like South Carolina and Nevada, better suited for candidates like Cruz.

Kasich placed an ad buy in Vermont today, one of the other Super Tuesday states in which the former Ohio governor is likely to be a threat.

Midwestern states more friendly to Kasich come later in the cycle, after Trump has likely won several Super Tuesday states: Michigan votes March 8, and then Kasich’s home state of Ohio votes March 15. But even Trump taunted him in his speech Tuesday night.

“We're going to do very well in Ohio. We're beating the governor,” he said. “That's good. It's always nice to be beating the governor.”

Still, Ohio is a large winner-takes-all prize, which would help boost Kasich’s dwindling delegate count.

Carson: The ‘Undaunted’ Doctor

Ben Carson’s remarks to supporters Tuesday night, echoed in a news release distributed by his campaign this morning, might leave all but his most die-hard supporters scratching their heads.

“We remain undaunted,” the retired neurosurgeon said in a statement. “We’ve barely finished the first inning, and there’s a lot of game left.”

This coming from the candidate who finished a distant fourth in the Silver State, sixth in South Carolina, eighth in New Hampshire and fourth in Iowa.

Carson has already become something of an afterthought on the campaign trail and in the debates and while he can keep at it, at this point, he seems to be running for a better speaking slot at this summer’s Republican National Convention rather than making a serious case for his claim to the nomination.

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