Monday night’s Iowa caucuses will further narrow a Republican presidential primary field that once boasted a whopping 17 White House hopefuls.
While billionaire Donald Trump and Sens. Ted Cruz (TX) and Marco Rubio (FL) duke it out to finish in the top three, there are nine other candidates still running. Some of the contenders, like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Ohio Governor John Kasich, aren’t putting much stock in the Hawkeye State, instead investing their time and money into winning the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 9.
But some others gambled everything on a strong showing in Iowa that, barring a miracle, simply isn’t coming.
Here’s who you can expect to drop out following Monday night’s results (click here for the updated analysis):
Rick Santorum. The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and winner of the caucuses in 2012 has made no secret that Iowa is his slingshot to winning the GOP nomination this summer.
Santorum made an early effort to win the backing of evangelicals, but they slipped through his fingers to Trump and, at least for a little while, Ben Carson before the influential bloc rallied to Cruz’s campaign. He stands at just 1.2 percent, dead last, in the Real Clear Politics average of recent statewide polls.
“Over the last 5 years, I’ve done over 700 speeches and town-hall meetings all throughout the state of Iowa and it’s been an incredible ride," Santorum said last week Fox News’s undercard debate in Des Moines, Iowa, giving what likely will be the closing statement of his campaign.
Mike Huckabee. The 2008 winner of the Iowa caucuses and former Arkansas governor has been unable to recapture the magic in Iowa, despite unabashed plays for social conservatives like defending Kim Davis, the Kentucky country clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage license to same sex couples.
Unlike Santorum, though, Huckabee is likely to stick around as a pundit for the rest of 2016. He has aligned himself in recent weeks with Trump, appearing at his pro-veteran, counter-debate rally in Iowa last week. Should Trump actually get the nomination, it’s not hard to imagine Huckabee serving as a campaign surrogate.
Beyond Santorum and Huckabee, there are other candidates who are likely to start packing it in:
Carly Fiorina. The former Hewlett-Packard CEO saw her public profile skyrocket last summer, only to see it crash down to Earth just in time for the caucuses. Fiorina shook up the race in August when she wowed viewers during the GOP primary’s first undercard debate.
The break-out performance was enough to get Fiorina onto the primetime debate stage but never translated into a big change in the polls. Sure enough, Fiorina was back at the kids’ table for the last undercard debate before the caucuses. Despite her bleak prospects, look for Fiorina to stick it out through at least New Hampshire before dropping out.
Ben Carson. It’s hard to believe, given his single-digit polling numbers, that the retired neurosurgeon once threatened Trump for frontrunner status. The deadly ISIS attacks in Paris in November shifted the entire GOP race to national security and exposed Carson as a novice.
He compounded that problem with a confusing scandal about his biography, a very public squabble within his campaign that saw several senior aides leave, and a string of poor, almost bizarre debate performances, all but extinguishing Carson’s chances of being the Republican nominee.
Still, recent polls show him in the top echelon of candidates in Iowa, owing to the significant amount of time he has spent there and the number of rivals who have given up on the state.
Carson will likely stick around until the South Carolina primary on Feb. 20. With at least two more GOP debates slated to happen before then, there’s plenty of time for Carson to deliver lines like the one from last week when asked about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s policies.
"Putin is a one-horse country," Carson said. "Oil and energy."