Below is a brief excerpt from Potomac Research Group Chief Political Strategist JT Taylor's Morning Bullets sent to institutional clients each morning.
TOE TO TOE IN TEXAS:
Tonight's debate in Houston is the final, critical chance for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio to redefine the narrative over the next five days before the Super Tuesday contests. Some Rubio donors and establishment types have been reluctant to take on Donald Trump, fearing that he may suffer a similar fate to Jeb -- but if he wants to win, Rubio can't sit by and let Trump dictate the terms and tenor of the debate.
Look for him and Trump to tag-team against Cruz, capitalizing on his newly-exposed and unexpected crisis of character. Cruz and his campaign are clearly on the ropes, and we hear a sense of panic is starting to set in among his team -- we wouldn't be surprised if he comes out jabbing, but is limited to counter-punching the whole night.
Majority Leader McConnell's decision to deny President Obama a chance to fill the late Justice Scalia's seat raised just a few eyebrows in the Republican caucus, but he has strung together a nearly-united front and the Republican base appears appeased -- for now. McConnell now owns the narrative, and Democrats -- at some point -- will label their opposition with the obstructionist tag, and tie it into their other theme that Republicans can't govern effectively.
We see this as a clear and looming danger for vulnerable candidates up for re-election in swing states, but McConnell and the Judiciary Committee are unlikely to budge. We wonder if their calculus changes now that the White House is floating Republican Gov Brian Sandoval's name, or in the event Hillary Clinton is sitting on a big lead in the months closer to the general election.