“Neither one of these guys has solidified his position as the party’s default or even likely nominee,” said Charlie Arlinghaus,a Republican activist in New Hampshire and president of the conservative Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy. “And if you read into the polls, you see that only 13 percent of the people have actually decided. If that’s true, neither Jeb nor Trump nor anyone else wants to make this a one-on-one or be viewed as an alternative to any other candidate. You have to start establishing your own credentials.”

Ironically enough in this state where retail politics and personal interactions have long been a requirement, a candidate who has shown up far less is well positioned to capitalize on the inability of Trump and Bush to catch on: Marco Rubio, who passed Bush in the most recent poll of New Hampshire Republicans and has, not surprisingly, become Trump’s new target.

“People are only starting to pay attention right now,and they’re looking for alternatives both to Trump and to any candidate who might be perceived as part of the establishment,” said Drew Cline, the long-time editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader who is leaving his job to start a political consulting business and, incidentally, hosting house parties forRubio and Carly Fiorina next week.