They finally started dropping like flies. At one point late last summer, there were 23 official candidates (six Democrats and 17 Republicans) vying for their party's nomination; by mid-February, the dogfight had been whittled down to two Democrats and six Republicans. With the possible exception of the ever-optimistic Gov. John Kasich, nearly all the candidates that didn't make an splash in the early going never gained momentum. Bottom-feeders and underfunded candidates like Lindsay Graham and Jim Gilmore couldn't find any substantial momentum; however, where Graham was out of the race by Christmas, Gilmore somehow lingered around until after the New Hampshire primary.
So who's left? The race for the Democratic party was going to be Hillary Clinton vs. Bernie Sanders all along. Even if Clinton (and most analysts) thought she was a sure shot last summer, there is a faction of her own party that doesn't think she's liberal enough to represent a party that is shifting further to the left. Secretary Clinton might be more qualified than the grass roots, rough at the seems Senator Sanders, but her flip-flopping and checkered history might be her undoing. Sanders is too much of an idealist (sound familiar?) but he's a worthy alternative.
Meanwhile, the Republicans and its remaining challengers represent a Grand Old Party on the cusp of a schism. Where the seemingly unstoppable Trump circus leads the pack, a fair number of Republicans would rather have a mainline conservative (Jeb Bush), an eager moderate (Kasich), a young, feisty Tea Party candidate (Marco Rubio), a literal interpretor of the Constitution (Ted Cruz), or an Christian-conservative outsider (Ben Carson) lead the way. In all likelihood, the upcoming South Carolina primary will determine who will land the nomination in August, as well as the soul of the GOP. Even if 30% of Republicans would rather have the brash billionaire, that means 70% of the party --and if I have my math right, 85% of the general populace-- would rather vote for anyone but Trump come November.