The Ebb and Flow of the Road to the Nomination

In both the Democratic and GOP races, no one can predict the twists and turns.

ByABC News
February 8, 2016, 11:28 AM

— -- The brilliant author Joseph Campbell once said, "You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you. If the path before you is clear, you're probably on someone else's." This is as true in our politics as it is in our personal lives.

As we approach the vote in the New Hampshire presidential primary tomorrow, we can understand what Campbell is revealing before us in this campaign. We can also see some myths that again have taken hold in the nomination race.

Donald Trump did not plan on losing the Iowa caucuses. His plan was to win Iowa, then New Hampshire, and begin running the table toward the GOP nomination. That was clear to him, but it didn't turn out that way. In the aftermath of this unexpected loss, he had to go through a bit of soul searching and retool his tone and messaging. He emerged a bit of a different leader. And now it seems what is waiting for him is a win in the New Hampshire primary.

Marco Rubio, with a surprising strong third-place finish in Iowa, immediately became the darling of the media, and his plans are now to finish in second place in New Hampshire. What was not clear was how badly he would perform in the last debate before the primary, possibly disrupting his plan. The seasoned pros around him understand that when you live by the media wave, you also must expect to crash on the beach from the wave. Rubio must now rediscover what is his path ahead and how he must step forward differently.

Ted Cruz had planned for a win in evangelically-dominated Iowa that would clearly propel him forward into a strong showing in NH. He and his team did not plan on getting zero momentum from an Iowa caucus win. They also thought it was clear that a wounded Trump would fall off from a loss and not be able to recover. Ahead for them now is an unclear path ahead without a definitive state to win in the coming days.

Many of the media have had to recalibrate numerous times in this race what they thought would likely happen. Most thought Trump would not survive the summer, then as the Iowa caucuses loomed, they planned for his victory there. As they analyzed Trump's loss in Iowa, they speculated that once Trump lost then he would never be able to recover. Now facing a very probable big Trump victory in NH, they again are going to have to peel away more diligently where the story of this election is headed.

One way the media and many campaign operatives have not served the public is repeating an embedded myth that the results in Iowa always change the results of the New Hampshire primary. The media constantly talks about the volatility of the electorate, and the voters don't always respond according to this media plan.