Assuming the new Boston Herald/ Franklin Pierce College Republican presidential poll of New Hampshire primary voters is correct, and I think it is, Donald Trump is on his way to ending his 2016 campaign adventure running as an Independent candidate rather than as a Republican nominee, and the guy who has in the past exhibited the temperament to become the "next Donald Trump" is on the rise in the Granite State.
First the Trump implosion.
On the surface Trump's 18 percent still leads the field of 17 by five points in the poll released this past Tuesday.
Normally being in first place, and up by five points to boot, would be great news for any campaign.
Sadly for Trump Express, this is not the case.
Turns out that on the first of the four nights of polling, before the Megyn Kelly controversy percolated to the surface, Trump trounced the field with a massive 29 percent of the vote. The next three nights, however, as Trump not only refused to apologize for his comments attacking Kelly but instead whined endlessly that he was being picked on by a reporter with a personal agenda, the Trump numbers decreased. The numbers ended in a four-night aggregate of only 18 percent, 11 points below where he began.
On the other hand, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who was so invisible in the pack of 17 that he didn't even register at 1 percent in prior Boston Herald/Franklin Pierce polls, suddenly vaulted into a virtual tie with former front-runner Jeb Bush, finishing with 12 percent compared to 13 percent for the former Florida governor.
So where does that leave the rest of the post-debate Supercilious 17?
Well, clearly up are both the aforementioned Kasich as well as Carly Fiorina of California, who was at less than 1 percent in the earlier Herald poll of N.H. voters and now finds herself in fifth with a solid 9 percent of the vote.
Clearly down: Trump; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who plummeted from 15 percent to 4 percent; and the pathetic "1 percents" of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and the rest of the never-were and never-will-be candidates.
Treading water are Bush; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. These five candidates didn't grow, but also didn't shrink from their original position in the polls.
So what to make of all this?
For Democrats, it's easy.
As my friend Lisa McCoy has succinctly articulated, Democrats perceive the entire group of 17 as falling into one (or more) of the following categories: 1) huge egos; 2) load mouths; 3) small brains; and 4) tiny hearts.
And where does the newest flavor of the week, Kasich, fall among all of these categories?
Right now, most Republican voters think they know Kasich based on his low-key, centrist performance at the recent debate.
Well, search the internet on the name Kasich and the difference between his current public persona and his well-documented private behavior may remind older readers of a previous unsuccessful Democratic candidate for president named Edmund Muskie.
Muskie was a former U.S. senator from Maine who first ran unsuccessfully on the Democratic ticket for vice president in 1968 and was, at the outset of the 1972 campaign, the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. Most voters who watched Muskie on the campaign trail in 1968 perceived him to be humble, smart and soft spoken -- a voice of calm in an age of shouting.
In fact, Muskie had a fiery temper that all too often flared out of control for no reason.
In the end, that famous temper caught up with him and ended his candidacy.
As for Kasich, he is a man well known for his trademark rants. He is known to be an inveterate and shameless name-dropper. He is described by friends and foes alike as emotional and self-important.
Kasich is also prone to get argumentative in a way that doesn't win arguments and can be both smug and a jerk.
He is, in three words: The next Trump.
I, for one, can't wait to see the two bully boys, Trump and Christie, attempt to push his buttons.
Let the next debate begin.