With just weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses and the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire, the week starts out with sweet sounds for some in the big Republican field of White House wannabes and sour notes for others.

In a new poll out Monday, conducted by Marist, Texas Senator Ted Cruz tops businessman Donald Trump by four percentage points, 28 percent to 24 percent, respectively. Florida Senator Marco Rubio is third with 13 percent and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who has fallen precipitously over the weeks, lands in fourth place with 11 percent.

In New Hampshire, where voters go to the polls eight days after the Iowa caucuses Trump leads Rubio by 16 points [30% to 14%] with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in third place with just 12 percent. Sen. Cruz comes fourth with 10 percent.

For Ohio Governor John Kasich, who sees his second run for the White House disintegrating as he tries to make a dent in the minds of Granite State voters, the best he can do is tie for fifth with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush with nine percent.

For national and state reporters wondering who which GOP attack dog will be the party’s top dog on Feb. 1 in Iowa and Feb. 9 in New Hampshire, the numbers reflect the steady momentum of Mr. Trump’s campaign that now appears to be engaged in a Clash of the Titans struggle with main nemesis, Sen. Cruz.

Just when he should be peaking, after spending millions to introduce and promote himself, Gov. Kasich seems incapable of moving up in the voters’ minds, as national and state polling shows. Camp Kasich can’t throw in the towel just yet, although he’s been encouraged to do so by many. If he doesn’t place at least third in a state he’s bet his future on, his big shiny bus with a ticking debt clock on it might as well drive him back to Columbus, where he can figure out how to get the winner’s eventual approval to add him to the ticket as vice president.

If John Kasich isn’t “the story” coming out of New Hampshire, and by ever measure so far he’s unlikely to win, place or show, he definitely won’t be “the story” coming out of conservative states that follow, including South Carolina and Nevada. If he should manage to hang on until Ohio votes on March 15, he might do better. But that’s still very uncertain based on previous polling that shows Donald Trump winning the Buckeye State laurels, where it’s winner-take-all.

Meanwhile, Gov. Kasich has more immediate worries. With the next GOP debate scheduled for this Thursday, what’s certain for John Kasich is that he’s uncertain to make the grade for the main stage debate. He’s squeaked into the prime time lineup before, but could easily be left out this time given his weak numbers nationally and in all states except New Hampshire, where he hits his highest ratings.

Making the best of a bad situation, Camp Kasich is trying to make lemonade out of lemons. Beth Hansen, Mr. Kasich presidential campaign manager and former state chief of staff, claims one poll has her boss in second place. Also making news today is the Monmouth University Poll showing Donald Trump has increased his already sizable lead in the New Hampshire Republican primary, while three candidates battle for second place.

“Only 1-in-3 voters have completely locked in their vote choice,” the poll notes, “while 1-in-4 are still very much up for grabs.” Another 4-in-10 voters have a strong candidate preference but are willing to keep their options open, which is good news for Gov. Kasich. About 32 percent of likely GOP primary voters in New Hampshire currently back Donald Trump for the presidential nomination, up from 26 percent in November, the poll found. The next tier of candidates includes Ted Cruz (14%), John Kasich (14%), and Marco Rubio (12%), with Chris Christie (8%), Carly Fiorina (5%), Jeb Bush (4%), Rand Paul (4%), and Ben Carson (3%) trailing behind.

But because only 414 New Hampshire voters likely to vote in the Republican presidential primary were contacted, all by telephone, the small sample has a margin of error of +4.8 percent, more than double the margin of error for large, well done, reliable polls.

What Mrs. Hansen, wife of David Hansen who confessed to illegally altering for-profit charter school data to benefit poor performing sponsors who make big contributions to Republican campaigns and candidates, did mention is that the poll she cites isn’t considered that good because¬†they employed computer-automated “robo-calls,” which are considered less reliable by most public-opinion experts, according to reports.

“Our volunteers braved the cold this past weekend to visit with voters and ask them to support John Kasich,” she wrote in an email to supporters Monday. “We have the strongest organization in the state!”