Following the 2012 presidential elections, when Republican candidate Mitt Romney lost to incumbent President Barack Obama, the GOP was forced to reevaluate its strategies and find a candidate likely to defeat the Democratic hopeful (expected by many to be Hillary Clinton) during the 2016 Presidential elections. During the 2014 midterm elections, exit polls showed such names as New Jersey Governor Christ Christie, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and former Texas Governor Rick Perry with over 24 percent approval rating among voters. Another name that was widely mentioned is that of Jeb Bush, former Florida Governor, as well as son and brother to two former U.S. Presidents, George H.B. Bush and George W. Bush respectively.
Christie, Paul, Perry and Bush did indeed announce their candidacies during 2015, as did other major figures, such as Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, prominent Virginia businesswoman and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard Carly Fiorina, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Ohio Governor John Kasich, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore and former New York Governor George Pataki. But the most surprising candidacy on the GOP ballot has been that of businessman and reality TV star Donald Trump, who has been flirting with politics for a long time, but was largely considered an improbable runner. However, he announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination in June 2015 and has managed to gain a considerable following, as well as a good position in opinion polls.
Trump came out second in the Iowa Republican caucus, with 45,416 popular votes, more than Marco Rubio, but less than Ted Cruz, who won this first event of the election year. However, polls ahead of the February 9 New Hampshire primaries showed the New York businessman ahead of his competitors, with Rubio second and Cruz third. To the surprise of many observers, Trump did indeed win the New Hampshire primaries with over 35 percent of the votes, twice as many as Kasich, who came in a surprising second and three times as many as Cruz and Bush, each with some 11 percent.
The following Republican primaries are set to take place in South Carolina and Washington on February 20, where only seven major GOP candidates will remain on the ballot, namely Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, Bush, Carson and Gilmore.