1. Look at the early polls. No Republican candidate can break even 20 percent support on a consistent basis in national surveys. In fact, the latest Real Clear Politics average finds just three possible candidates who register more than 10 percent. There’s really no frontrunner at all.
2. A winning coalition isn’t easy to put together. There are already several candidates who appeal mainly to evangelical Christians, a bunch who are attractive to national security hawks, and a handful who attract the Wall Street establishment crowd. There’s even a libertarian or two in the mix. With so many candidates on the menu, primary voters won’t necessarily have to pick the lesser of the evils. They’ll find a candidate who speaks to the issues they most care about.
3. Follow the money. Super PACs, which have become a pre-requisite for running for president this year, can raise unlimited sums from large donors. While they cannot legally coordinate their actions with the official campaigns, their war chests can ensure a candidate can stay in the race much longer than ever before. There’s little need to drop out if you have a billionaire or two committed to influencing the race with your candidacy.
Put this together and it’s very possible that no candidate will win two of the first four early contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. If that happens, it’s impossible to predict what comes next.