In August, Republicans had so many candidates that they held two debates. The main stage had the 10 top candidates and then there was a junior varsity (JV) debate that included the 7 "also-rans."
Now, a month later, the second tier group has only 4 left standing.
You can project this trend. 7 last month. 4 this month. That means there will be just one candidate in next month's JV debate. Think about that. A national platform without competition. An audience that would dwarf any that Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders could hope for. The ability to make your points without interruption or contradiction from other candidates. The luxury of acting stately, above the petty bickering that will surely define the more crowded stage later that day. To be the last JV candidate standing would surely catapult any candidate into the lead, perhaps the White House.
Keep an eye on the four JV candidates tonight. One of them is a strategic wizard, angling for a coveted solo debate slot that the rest of the GOP hasn't even considered.