Gone is the expectation of a massive candidate pile-up when the early states begin voting, and a long, drawn-out primary. Few are worried anymore about the prospect of a brokered convention. Instead, the campaigns are revising their strategic outlooks to account for a field that is dramatically winnowed well before Iowa voters go to the caucuses — perhaps to as few as eight candidates on Feb. 3.
By Super Tuesday, some expect between one and three candidates will be left standing.
“I’ve long believed it will winnow down substantially come Thanksgiving,” said Mike McCauley, a South Carolina-based strategist who worked on Barack Obama and John Kerry’s presidential campaigns. “I haven’t seen anybody to cause me to reconsider that. And if anybody is hanging on through Iowa outside the top six, we’re talking about a cabinet tryout or vanity.”