In my view, only two candidates should drop out based on the results of the Iowa caucuses: Ben Carson and Rick Santorum.
Why Ben Carson who landed in 4th place, ahead of my candidate of choice Rand Paul, you ask? It’s simple. Ben Carson has no room for growth. He is a faith-based conservative (as is Santorum), and if Iowa does anything, it decides the King of the faith-based conservatives. Cruz has taken this crown. (See past winners Huckabee and Santorum, both unsuccessful in seeking the nomination, but undoubtedly the evangelical leaders in their respective fields).
A strong argument could be made that Bush, Kasich, Fiorina, and Christie should also drop, because Marco Rubio is running away with the establishment. The reason I am not so confident in this idea is because I am not certain that it is only establishment republicans flocking to Marco Rubio.
There seems to be something very unique about New Hampshire. Kasich is in second place in many polls there, which is very odd considering he is a pariah anywhere else. I think it is fair to give Christie, Kasich, Bush and Fiorina their last chance to appeal to some random groups of undecided voters on February 9th in New Hampshire before officially calling it quits, which I assume at least three of them will do immediately thereafter.
Many are calling it a three person race now, because that is what they desperately want. It makes the story more fun to tell, and better for media not to have so many faces on the screen at once.
I see it differently. Carson’s voters are likely to branch out in a number of directions. Cruz and Rubio would likely take the lion’s share, with everyone else in the field maybe making small gains. A 10% swing would have an impact on Trump’s seemingly insurmountable national momentum, and could benefit any number of candidates. Personally, and without contempt, I would like to see Rand Paul capture back some of the disaffected who have flocked to Donald Trump. This could happen.
I have nothing negative to say about Ben Carson, or his followers. He is a true conservative, and a good man. His quiet, loving, thoughtful and compassionate demeanor does not work for him against the louder, bolder, sharp and confident man who has captured the attention of voters who place faith above all other criteria. I wish him the very best, and I don’t think this will be the last we see of him. But it is time to bow out.