The fifth GOP presidential debate scheduled for Tuesday in Las Vegas will feature nine Republicans on the main stage in prime time.  The results will give each candidate reason to soldier on or fall further behind, prompting calls for them to exit the race so those remaining can duke it out for the nomination.

The GOP candidates most eyes will be watching tomorrow night will be Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. These three now largely comprise the troika of Republicans leading in national and most state polls. Other candidates like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will either gain strength, as Mr. Christie has done of late, or lose ground, as Mr. Bush has done.

For the balance of the nine, Tuesday night’s performance could be a ticket to the showers or another life line until voting starts in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two early voting states.

Captains For Kasich

For Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Tuesday’s showdown in Las Vegas will either drive another nail into his coffin or keep him on ventilator status until voting starts on Feb. 9 in New Hampshire, the single state he’s wagered his White House hopes on.

The stakes are indeed high for Ohio’s term-limited governor. He took a pounding in the media for his stunningly disastrous performances in the third and fourth debates, TV appearances that turned Republican voters off on him as his chronically crusty personality and perpetually petulant attitude could not be kept in check. Interrupting and talking over his opponents and debate moderators did not endear him to the watching world, as polling shows he is disliked the more voters get to know him.

When you’re not hot, you’re not hot, and that’s been a big problem for Camp Kasich, as those who track social media gymnastics can attest to. Trying to pump up the noise the day before the Las Vegas debates, the last of this year, when candidates go after each other on CNN, the  Kasich campaign launched “Captains for Kasich.” It’s a new Website where the 63-year old’s most devout supporters can register to earn points for various activities they can do to support him from home, that they can then turn into for Kasich campaign gear.

“We’re excited to announce the launch of our national grassroots tool Captains for Kasich,” an email from Kasich’s digital director said Monday. “You can even earn points by sharing our posts on social media! You can earn great prizes like a coffee mug, #TeamKasich shirt or even one of our new winter fleeces!”

Whether the Kasich campaign gear supporters will win by registering at “Captains for Kasich” is ultimately added to the scrapheap of campaign memorabilia from other failed candidates, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker or Rick Perry from Texas, is anybody’s guess. But if John Kasich’s low polling numbers are any indication, the odds are good that that “Kasich For Us” T-shirt or coffee mug just might become a hot item some day for future politicos who collect memorabilia from the long list of sorry losers.

For fans of the Wizard of Westerville, Camp Kasich offers 29 individual items, ranging from bumper stickers [$5] to coffee cups [$20] to T-shirts [$29], hats [$25] and fleeces [$75].

Iowa Q-Polling

John Kasich made it to the main stage again, but polling news from the Des Moine Register and Quinnipiac University show he’s living on life-support. The Des Moines Register released its latest poll Sunday showing a new leader has emerged. Texas Senator Ted Cruz has moved into first place, displacing Donald J. Trump from his perch in that category. Mr. Cruz leads the pack with 31 percent, followed by Mr. Trump at 21 percent, with Dr. Ben Carson falling to a distant third at 13 percent.

The rest of the field of GOP White House wannabes with the exception of Marco Rubio at 10 percent can only post single digits. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, whose Music Man status is legend, can do no better than 2 percent.

The new Iowa Q-Poll out Monday shows Donald Trump with 28 percent, Sen. Ted Cruz with 27 percent and Marco Rubio in third place with 14 percent with Dr. Ben Carson at 10 percent. No other candidate placed above 5 percent, including John Kasich who again can’t get it up past one percent.

Commenting on the steep incline Gov. Kasich finds himself on going into Tuesday’s debate,  Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center on Politics, said the governor’s best performance moment came at the first debate in Cleveland in early August. “I’m beginning to think he’s never going to have it. The establishment lane remains crowded, and none of them are doing particularly well,” Sabato said in a published report.

“He [Kasich] either impresses in New Hampshire or, basically, it’s over for him,” Sabato forecasted, according to reports. 

The AP in Nevada reported Monday that the Kasich campaign cancelled a pre-debate campaign coffee-meeting with voters in Las Vegas. Scheduled at Tipsy Coffee House in southwestern Las Vegas, the event has been called, citing a last-minute scheduling conflict.

CBS Quizzes Kasich

Think you know John Kasich? Take the CBS quiz and see.