HOLLIS, New Hampshire (AP) -- After months of predicting a comeback for their preferred candidates, Republican establishment leaders now concede the first two contests on the presidential election calendar are Donald Trump's and Ted Cruz's to lose.
Many GOP traditionalists fear that each candidate would be a disaster in the November general election.
That leaves many pinning their White House hopes on a feat no Republican has pulled off in modern political history: securing the nomination without winning in Iowa or New Hampshire.
It's a risky strategy. And it's left party officials hoping weaker candidates will drop out of the race after New Hampshire's primary Feb. 9, to help voters coalesce behind a mainstream alternative.
The strategy is also driven by necessity, given Trump and Cruz's strong standing in the early states.