If success in the debates means anything, then John Kasich ought to have an incredibly strong showing in the New Hampshire primary.
Historically, especially in the 19th century, debates were essential to the process--like the famous Lincoln-Douglass debates--and often could catapult an unknown to the front of the line.
Kasich is doing well in New Hampshire polls, holding on to a 4-way tie for second place (14%) in a recent poll conducted by Monmouth University. The RCP average shows him in 3rd place, but only by half-a-point (13.5%). This is well within striking distance of Marco Rubio, who slightly trails Kasich by 2 to 3 points in the most recent polls from ARG and Gravis.
While he has a large gap to fill to catch up with front-runner Donald Trump (30%), his performance during Saturday's debate could be the catalyst to launch his numbers on election day."We have to solve problems in America by coming together, Republicans and Democrats, Americans first, party and ideology second," Kasich said during the debate, delivering one of his strongest lines of the night.
CNN reported Sunday on Todd Graham's opinions of the debate, who gave Kasich high marks for his performance. As a college debate coach, he has experience preparing hundreds of students for contests -- teams that have won the national debate championships three times.
Todd Graham gave Kasich the only 'A' of the night, based on delivery and content. He presented himself as an easy-going, likable candidate.
Trump, Carson, and Bush all got 'B's' for their performances. Ted Cruz, who hoped to carry momentum from his win in Iowa to New Hampshire, can't be very happy about his 'D' grade.
Kasich had a good debate night, but there is one other thing that could change the game in New Hampshire: the ground game. Trump learned the hard way in Iowa that a commanding lead in public opinion polls does not mean much if you don't have people on the ground getting supporters to the polls.
CBS News reports that Kasich held his 100th town hall of his 2016 campaign in New Hampshire on Friday. As of February 9, he had spent 69 days in the state. His super PAC dispatched 100 volunteers on Thursday for the final get-out-the-vote effort. Kasich has a strong ground operation to get supporters to the polls, something Trump doesn't have.
You don't have to be a registered party member to vote in the Republican primary in New Hampshire, and Kasich's message about putting people above party could be the statement that wins the independents over to his campaign. Kasich has a long history of being willing to reach across the party divide as Ohio's governor, something that independents like to see in a candidate.
Photo Source: AP