Chris Christie’s path to victory

The con­ven­tion­al wis­dom is that Su­per Tues­day will be a wind­fall for Sen. Ted Cruz, since the nine con­tests on March 1 are con­cen­trated in con­ser­vat­ive, South­ern states. Cruz cer­tainly should emerge with the most del­eg­ates that week, but, in his eager­ness to play pun­dit, he has raised ex­pect­a­tions to such a point that any­thing short of a South­ern sweep would be con­sidered dis­ap­point­ing. If Christie notched vic­tor­ies in the non-South­ern state primar­ies that day — along with Vir­gin­ia — he’d be able to claim mo­mentum from Su­per Tues­day as well.

Christie’s role as chair­man of the Re­pub­lic­an Gov­ernors As­so­ci­ation gives him al­lies in many cru­cial primary states. In Vir­gin­ia, his su­per PAC, Amer­ica Leads, is run by Phil Cox and Tuck­er Mar­tin, two top ad­visers to former Vir­gin­ia Gov. Bob Mc­Don­nell—and his cam­paign is staffed with many vet­er­ans of Vir­gin­ia polit­ics. Christie is also close to Mas­sachu­setts Gov. Charlie Baker, and as RGA head he spent mil­lions on his cam­paign in the deep-blue state. Four days after Su­per Tues­day, Maine is hold­ing week­end caucuses, where Christie is favored to win thanks to his en­dorse­ment from Gov. Paul LePage.

After Su­per Tues­day, the map is much more fa­vor­able for the es­tab­lish­ment can­did­ate—as­sum­ing the party is uni­fied be­hind one at that point.