Super Tuesday: What surprising things it revealed
The long heralded Super Tuesday is now behind us. It actually revealed some surprising things. First of all, on the Republican side, it showed that Donald Trump, though clearly holding a sizable lead, is neither unbeatable or the inevitable nominee. Marco Rubio finally broke through with a win in the Minnesota caucuses. Incidentally, Donald Trump, after earlier in the evening boasting how he’d never finished worse than second in any primary–did just that by finishing a well beaten third in Minnesota. Cruz prevailed in his “must win” home state of Texas, beating Donald Trump there by 17 percentage points. Marco Rubio failed to meet the minimum threshold and, given the proportional method of allocating delegates, allowed a few more delegates to slip to Trump, as well, of course, to Cruz–which is less important than Trump’s pickup, as the game now is “Stop Trump” (from reaching the magic number of 1237 delegates needed to secure the nomination).Starting on March 15, wins will go a lot further towards nomination since a number of them will be winner-take-all primaries. This is the very reason why Kasich had to stay in the race, even if it meant him siphoning off some votes that might have resulted in Rubio’s meeting the minimum threshold in a few states. In the most popular scenario to effect a brokered convention, Kasich must win his home state of Ohio, with its sixty-six pledged delegates all going to the winner. Also of extreme importance, Rubio has to win his home state of Florida, with its ninety-nine delegate winner-take-all prize. Polls show Kasich with a tiny lead in Ohio, and Trump with a sizable lead in Florida. Rubio claims his ground game, with a lot of local operatives in place, will help him to overcome Trump’s lead. As of right now that seems like quite a challenge. Reports are circulating of large Republican donors, working through Super Pacs such as Our Principles PAC , the Club for Growth, and Rubio’s own Conservative Solutions PAC, buying up both network and cable slots in Florida for ads promoting the thesis that a vote for Trump will be a vote to destroy the party.
Bottom line, although most of the press around the world is proclaiming the inevitability of a Trump nomination based on his wins on Super Tuesday, in reality the results show a path for denying it if everything falls into place. A longshot, yes. But still a valid shot. How Trump would respond to a brokered convention that went against him is a whole other question. It might leave the Republican Party in even more shambles than it would be with him winning the nomination.
On the Democratic side, even though Sanders won primaries in Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and his home state of Vermont, Hillary’s nomination seems much more certain than going into Super Tuesday. She increased her lead over Sanders substantially, and it would appear that with her pledged super-delegate count, she is well on the way to becoming the Democratic Party’s candidate. Including super delegates, she leads Sanders 1,034 to 408, with 2383 needed for nomination.
Still, entry polls, especially in the States that she lost, underscore her continuing problems for the general election. Not trusting her was heard over and over, even by some that voted for her. This only reinforces findings from prior polls that showed troubles for Clinton in the trust dimension. And you can bet that Republicans, who pretty much created the trust issue in the first place with their endless e-mail attacks, will focus in on this weakness. Already Cruz, Rubio, and Trump, not very subtly, have implied that she did something illegal by questioning whether she will even be allowed to run. What is more, the gun lobby, reportedly, has a Super Pac with 200 million dollars at its disposal to defeat Hillary–and based on prior behaviors, they will use “any and all means available.” In a recent post, I made some suggestions for Hillary’s campaign. I would strongly add the advice to stop focusing on mental illness in her proposal to insure proper background checks, prevent artificial entities from using third-parties to buy weapons, and close gun-show loopholes, and instead, or at least in addition, laser in on preventing terrorists from obtaining weapons. This might resonate with voters more urgently.