Yet, with the first votes of the primary season just hours away from being cast, the struggling trio of establishment candidates insist they have little interest in dropping out any time soon — and, to the contrary, are mapping out long primary campaigns that will take them far beyond Iowa and New Hampshire. On Sunday, some of those hopefuls and their allied super PACs reported substantial fundraising sums that will allow them to power forward well into the primary calendar.
In recent weeks, Rubio’s advisers and backers — who have long banked on the prospect that the party would ultimately coalesce around him, even as the candidate distances himself from the establishment — have grown increasingly frustrated by the ongoing division.
It’s now apparent to many in the GOP’s upper ranks that the party will remain divided for some time.
“None of the ‘establishment’ candidates got into this because ‘the establishment’ told them to,” said Christian Ferry, who served as campaign manager for Lindsey Graham’s presidential bid. “I think it is impossible to think that the interests of their campaign will not dictate when they get out, on their terms — not the establishment’s terms.”