Second Super Tuesday Live Blog

Five states plus the Northern Mariana Islands vote in the presidential primaries on this second “Super Tuesday”.

Presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
Presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore/Hillary for America/Barbara Kinney/Michael Vadon)

Today’s primaries are a chance for former secretary of state Hillary Clinton to prove that she can win outside the American South, where minorities have dominated the Democratic contests. Her socialist rival, Bernie Sanders, has done better in northern industrial states. Watch Ohio.

For the Republicans, it’s the last chance to slow down businessman Donald Trump. If he does poorly today, he is likely to fall short of a delegate majority. But if Trump wins, it is going to be almost impossible to take the nomination away from him. Crucial will be Florida and Ohio, the home states of Trump’s rivals Marco Rubio and John Kasich.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 15, 20163:22 PM

Welcome! The reason we’re starting early is that results from the Northern Mariana Islands are in already. The local Republican Party there says Donald Trump got 73 percent support in the caucus, which means he wins all the islands’ nine delegates.

Hillary Clinton won the Democratic caucus on the islands on Saturday.

Unlike the people of American Samoa, who voted in the first “Super Tuesday” primaries earlier this month, the 50,000 inhabitants of the Northern Mariana Islands are citizens of the United States — but they do not get a vote in November’s presidential election either.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 15, 20165:06 PM

367 delegates are at stake on the Republican side today, just under a third of the number needed to win the party’s nomination. It’s less than were available on the first Super Tuesday on March 1, but today has the first big winner-takes-all contests.

Of the five states that vote, only North Carolina allocates its delegates proportionately. Florida and Ohio award their 99 and 66 delegates, respectively, to whoever places first. Illinois and Missouri aren’t technically winner-takes-all but could turn out that way if a candidate places first in every one of their congressional districts. That’s how Trump won all of South Carolina’s fifty delegates in February.

In the New Yorker wins everywhere today, FiveThirtyEight calculates that he would need only 44 percent of the remaining delegates to secure the nomination. That should be more than doable, especially if Ohio governor John Kasich and Florida senator Marco Rubio drop out after losing their homes states.

In the more likely scenario that Trump loses Ohio but wins in Florida, Illinois and Missouri, he would need to win around half the remaining delegates. That could still be doable, especially if Ted Cruz and John Kasich continued split the anti-Trump vote.

The only way to all but guarantee a contested convention would be for Trump to lose both Florida and Ohio and take around half the delegates in Illinois and Missouri. In that case, he would need to win 63 percent of the remaining delegates. That’s a tall order, especially when big states that should be less friendly to Trump, like California, New York and Pennsylvania, vote late in the contest.

Greg R. Lawson Greg R. Lawson March 15, 20166:34 PM

It’s never too early to consider the omens of this election, of all elections, to fall on the “Ides of March.”

For an historical primer consider this.

Joseph Shupac March 15, 20167:09 PM

Interesting stuff!

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that even if Trump wins everywhere today, Kasich and Rubio will still remain in the race, because the party will prefer to show that a “normal” Republican candidate can receive large numbers of votes in primaries across the country. To drop out would be to hand over the credibility of the nationwide popular vote to Cruz and Trump, which seems like a needless thing to do.

Especially since staying in the race as a protest against Cruz and Trump will not require a huge amount of money, given that the Trump phenomenon has already got the country more aware of the political situation than it has been in previous primaries and that the media in some ways despises Cruz even more than Trump.

Joseph Shupac March 15, 20167:19 PM

Here’s a weird idea: If at the end of the primary season Cruz ends up finishing behind Kasich or Rubio in the popular vote and/or the delegate count, the party could offer him the vice presidency on a Rubio-Cruz or Kasich-Cruz ticket.

The idea would be that such an establishment-evangelical alliance would help to give the party the legitimacy to overthrow Trump at the convention and also give them a chance in the general election — if indeed they still have any chance at all — because of the Rubio-Cruz connection to Florida and Spanish-speaking voters or the Kasich connection to Ohio.

It’s a long shot, but, on the other hand, there is little doubt in my mind that Cruz is shameless enough to accept playing second fiddle to the establishment that he has made a career out of denouncing if it gets him a heartbeat away from becoming president.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 15, 20168:08 PM

I’m not sure I agree, Joseph. At this point, I don’t see Cruz finishing third. The states that vote next don’t look particularly favorable to him, no (something we reported earlier this month), but if Rubio drops out — and I don’t see how he could not if he loses his home state — Cruz, being in second place, could start emerging as the logical anti-Trump.

And Cruz doesn’t strike me as someone who would take the vice presidency under a deal with the “establishment” he is so fond of deriding. A Cruz-Kasich ticket looks more likely to me.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 15, 20169:41 PM

Florida is the biggest prize of the night in both parties. There are 214 Democratic delegates at stake in the Sunshine State and 99 Republican delegates.

Hillary Clinton is the favorite on the Democratic side. She has done disproportionately well with black and older voters so far, two big voting blocs in Florida. Polls put her around 20 point ahead of Bernie Sanders.

Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats do not give all the delegates to the highest vote-getter. 140 of their delegates are allocated at the congressional district level. Another 74 are awarded proportionately according to the statewide result.

On the Republican side, tonight is do-or-die for Marco Rubio, a Florida native. Trump has been leading in the polls for months, though. He does particularly well in the more conservative northern part of Florida, bordering Alabama and Georgia — two states that the businessman won handily. If Rubio can’t win his home state, it’s difficult to imagine him staying the race. But if he drops out, that puts the 163 delegates he has accrued so far in play for a contested convention.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 15, 201610:16 PM

A lot of crossover voting is being reported in Ohio with NBC saying up to a third of the people voting in the Republican primary there were registered Democrats. (Ohioans can vote in either primary.)

This movement could benefit Kasich, the state’s governor: centrists throwing their support behind him in an effort to stop Trump. But there may also be some blue-collar “Reagan Democrats” here who are switching for the opposite reason.

Hillary Clinton could suffer as a result of this. She appeals to moderate, middle-class as well as white working-class voters. If many of them are voting in the Republican primary today, could Sanders come away with a victory in the Democratic contest?

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 15, 201610:21 PM

143 delegates are at stake in the Democratic contest in Ohio: 93 elected at the district level and fifty statewide.

On the Republican side, there are 66 delegates up for grabs and they will all go to whoever wins the most votes. Ohio deliberately moved back its primary this year so it could be a winner-takes-all state under Republican Party rules.

Kasich, obviously, needs to win here or his candidacy makes no sense at all. If Trump does win (the polls favor Kasich), Republicans may need to abandon all hope of challenging him at the convention.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 15, 201610:29 PM

Given her wins in other Southern states, Clinton is expected to take most of North Carolina‘s 107 Democratic delegates.

On the Republican side, North Carolina is the only truly proportional state voting on Tuesday. All 72 delegates are allocated according to the statewide result and there is no threshold to qualify. So everyone’s a winner! Trump is projected to come in first; Cruz second.

Steve Keller Steve Keller March 15, 201611:06 PM

My predictions for tonight are as follows. I’m not terribly confident in any of these, other than the last two Democratic ones.

Missouri: Big Sanders victory
Illinois: Slight Sanders victory
Ohio: Virtual tie
North Carolina: Big Clinton victory
Florida: Big Clinton victory

Predictions on the Republican side (these I’m pretty confident in):

Missouri: Slight Cruz victory
Illinois: Medium-sized Trump victory
Ohio: Medium-sized Kasich win
North Carolina: Big Trump victory
Florida: Big Trump victory

Will it matter for Sanders? He really will have to win big in Missouri or Illinois, or win Missouri, Illinois and Ohio, to stay competitive. But I should note that pretty much every time there’s been a must-win state for him, he’s come away with it.

What we may also see tonight is whether the phenomenon of runaway Clinton victories among African-American voters is only enough to put her over the edge in the South.

As for the Republicans, tonight will be the end for Marco Rubio, even if he stays in. He’s going to get clobbered in his home state of Florida, which is a winner-takes-all state. He hasn’t been doing well anywhere in the country — except really Washington DC, which tells you something about the divide between DC Republicans and Republicans as a whole.

If Kasich wins Ohio, which he is likely to, he’ll probably end up the last (palatable) hope of the establishment in trying to stop Trump. If he loses, Trump will have essentially wrapped the nomination up on the delegate front — that notwithstanding any convention shenanigans this summer.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 15, 201611:11 PM

The Democratic polls have been all over the place in Illinois lately. One gives Clinton a 42-percent lead, another puts Sanders ahead by 2 percentage points. So who knows? The state has some similarities with neighboring Michigan, where Sanders exceeded expectations. But it’s also more racially diverse, possibly benefiting Clinton.

There are 156 delegates at stake in the Democratic contest: 102 at the congressional district level and 54 who are awarded statewide.

Trump is ahead in the Republican polls, but the way his party selects its delegates in Illinois is unique and could either give the mogul a commanding lead or a disappointing result.

For the full version, check out this post by John Putnam, a political scientist who specializes in this sort of thing.

The short version is that twelve delegates are bound to the statewide victor whereas the remaining 54 may or may not be bound. It depends on whether or not they have affiliated with a candidate when they are elected. Most probably will be. A Donald Trump supporter would presumably vote for a delegate who affiliates with Donald Trump. But the rules could mean that a few members of the Illinois delegation in Cleveland this summer are free to nominate whomever they like.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 15, 201611:32 PM

NBC calls Ohio too early to call with Clinton leading in the Democratic contest and Kasich leading on the Republican side.

The network calls North Carolina too close to call on the Republican side, meaning Cruz and Trump are neck-and-neck. The Democratic race there is too early to call. Which simply means not enough votes have been counted yet to make a prediction.

Greg R. Lawson Greg R. Lawson March 15, 201611:33 PM

It is probable Kasich wins Ohio and stays in for a contested convention which will, of course, be in Cleveland.

His last rally was two miles from my home and there is a lot if support for him in Central Ohio.

However, Central Ohio has done better than the rest of the state for a long time. It is an oasis of economic growth. The rest of Ohio is still struggling with hollowed-out manufacturing. It’s no coincidence Trump went to Youngstown last night.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 15, 201611:39 PM

David Wasserman argues over at FiveThirtyEight that the outcome of the Republican contests in Illinois and Missouri might tell us even more about the prospect of a contested convention than the result in Ohio.

If Trump sweeps both states by large margins and wins in all 26 of their congressional districts, he’ll win 121 delegates — more than he’ll win in Florida. However, if Cruz can win at least ten of their congressional districts, it will be a positive indicator for his competitiveness against Trump in future primaries and significantly heighten the odds of a contested convention.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 15, 201611:43 PM

There has been almost no polling in Missouri, so predictions are hard to make.

Given that the 71 Democratic delegates are allocated proportionately, I would expect Clinton and Sanders to split them more or less evenly. But maybe Steve is right and Sanders scores a big win here. After his upset in Michigan, it’s certainly not implausible.

As for the Republican contest in Missouri: Cruz has done well in neighboring Iowa and Kansas, so that argues in his favor. Except Missouri’s is an open primary. Those have been kinder to Trump.

There are 52 Republican delegates at stake: 40 elected in the districts and twelve awarded according to the statewide result.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 16, 201612:00 AM

So it looks like Marco Rubio will lose in Florida, his home state.

Readers of the Atlantic Sentinel will not be surprised. When Rubio announced his candidacy in April of last year, we pointed out that he had no natural constituency of his own. The first-term senator has been trying to appeal to everyone, from relatively moderate Republicans to hard-right Tea Party voters, and ended up pleasing no one. You cannot very well try to make a name for yourself by leading an ambitious immigration reform effort and then turn around when it stalls and claim you’re actually a hardliner without putting off some voters.

This goes to the heart of Rubio’s failure. His candidacy assumed that voters would be so taken in by the fact that he’s young, Hispanic and well-spoken that they wouldn’t pay attention to anything he’s done (which is virtually nothing of consequence) or said.

If Republican consultants thought all they needed to do to appeal to young and Hispanic voters after losing them in droves in 2012 was find a young and Hispanic candidate, they were clearly deluding themselves.

Rubio’s policies, as we have argued, are unimaginative. His foreign policy is more alarmist than George W. Bush’s. His economic program is a throwback to the 1980s. He has a 100 percent approval rating from the pro-gun National Rifle Association. He has said he would appoint Supreme Court justices to overturn marriage equality. He has said he would allow for no exceptions, not even for incest or rape, to ban abortion. Yet this man was supposed to represent the future of the Republican Party?

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 16, 201612:03 AM

Clinton is expected to win Florida tonight on the Democratic side. Their primary in Illinois is too close to call, meaning the former secretary of state is neck-and-neck there with Sanders.

Illinois is too early to call for the Republicans with either Cruz or Trump likely to win.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 16, 201612:13 AM

After tonight, there is obviously no good reason for Marco Rubio to stay in the race anymore. He would only be helping Donald Trump by continuing to split the anti-Trump vote.

But, as I pointed out earlier tonight, the Floridian has accrued 163 delegates already and that’s a big enough number that it could make a difference at the convention, assuming no other candidate takes an outright majority beforehand. Different states have different rules on whether or not delegates remain bound to a candidate if he or she drops out. So the way in which Rubio folds his campaign will matter.

Steve Keller Steve Keller March 16, 201612:16 AM

Nick’s analysis on Marco Rubio is spot-on. I’ll add that this demonstrates the limited utility of giving repeated victory speeches after third- or fourth-place finishes. In order to be a winner and have momentum, you kind of have to win.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 16, 201612:16 AM

While Marco Rubio is making what sounds like a concession speech, Hillary Clinton is projected to win North Carolina.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 16, 201612:27 AM

Rubio’s speech was rather disappointing. He was right to reject anger and fear, but then went on to accuse the Republican “establishment” (the same that had pinned its hopes on him) of looking down on true conservatives and blocking right-wing policies despite congressional victories in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

This is the sort of nonsense that has fueled the anger on the right Rubio talks about

The reality is that Republicans in Congress have got a lot of things done. Just ask Barack Obama. Pretend otherwise and what you’re effectively telling voters is that they need to elect an even more reactionary, even more obstructionist congressman, senator or president next time.

And then what you get is someone like Donald Trump.

Steve Keller Steve Keller March 16, 201612:43 AM

As Nick said, Rubio’s speech is worrisome and (I think) may indicate a Republican unwillingness to learn the real lessons of Trump essentially taking over the party.

Imagine if Rubio had come out and said that the Republican Party was catering to a far-right fringe which is utterly unelectable in a general election contest. That he said that Republicans needed to do some “soul searching” given the rise of a demagogue like Trump skirting closer to neofascism than ever before in American politics.

We might have considered this to be the night where the moderate Republicans “woke up.”

But despite being moderate among Republicans, Marco Rubio is actually extremely radical, famously (and repeatedly) arguing that President Obama is intentionally destroying the United States of America.

This — continued demands for conservative purity — is going to be the story going forward within Republican circles. “Trump is not the responsibility of the conservative movement.” Should Trump goes down to epic defeat against (probably) Hillary Clinton in November, the Republican Party will still argue “all we need to do next time is nominate a real conservative.”

At a certain point, the party will need to wake up.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 16, 201612:43 AM

Rubio’s defeat, coupled with Trump’s rise, could be the harbinger of a political realignment in the United States.

The Florida senator was the last best hope of the neoconservative wing of his party: the hawkish, War on Terror, fiercely pro-Israel, relatively pro-immigrant, pro-business type of Republicans who were all-powerful in the last Bush Administration. If either Ted Cruz or Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination this year, expect many of them to seriously consider voting for Hillary Clinton.

As they should. On policy, these Republicans have more in common with Clinton than they do with Cruz or Trump. The only thing stopping them may be tribal loyalty to the Republican Party or the conservative movement.

In the long term, it’s not that hard to imagine such “cosmopolitan” rightwingers moving into a Clinton-led Democratic Party and white, working-class voters moving out of the Democratic Party and into a more nativist and isolationist Republican Party.

Steve Keller Steve Keller March 16, 201612:46 AM

Clinton wins Ohio early. Surprising to me that it’s this early. Unfortunately for Sanders fans (myself among them), the senator will need to win Illinois and Missouri with pretty decent margins to remain competitive.

Steve Keller Steve Keller March 16, 201612:57 AM

Kasich wins Ohio. Looking back, how crucial was it that the arbitrary first-debate undercard “kid’s table” cutoff included Kasich and not Rick Perry or Mike Huckabee? Otherwise, Trump may have won those 66 delegates easily and decidedly avoided any hint of a contested convention.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 16, 20161:01 AM

To add to what Steve reported, Kasich’s victory puts him at 129 delegates. That’s about 10 percent of the number needed to win the nomination. But if you add some of Rubio’s delegates and a bunch of the uncommitted ones from places like Pennsylvania, Kasich could be a real factor at the convention.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 16, 20161:01 AM

Nate Silver writes at FiveThirtyEight that there seems to be a fair amount of tactical voting going on — not just in Ohio — among anti-Trump Republicans. I heard someone argue on television a few days ago (sorry I don’t remember who! I think it was on Morning Joe) that Americans don’t do this; that they vote for the candidate they like, whatever the state of the race.

Coming from a country that has eleven parties represented in parliament, plus a bunch of independents, and where people vote for their second or third choice all the time as a way to keep another party out of power, that statement struck me as incredible and tonight may prove it wrong.

If you have a two-party system, you may not be used to tactical voting. But it’s not that hard to figure out. If all the talk of crossover voting in Ohio turns out to be accurate, voters there appear to have figured it out better than most.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 16, 20161:13 AM

Hillary Clinton seems ready to move on to the general election campaign. Her victory speech tonight doesn’t really touch on left-wing issues anymore. Rather, it’s about contrasting her vision to Trump’s: a bright future if Americans work together and show a little more respect as opposed to “we don’t win anymore” and it’s the other half of the country’s fault.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 16, 20161:37 AM

Kasich just finished his victory speech in Ohio and it sounded awfully similar to Clinton’s: a bright future if Americans work together and show a little more respect.

The prospect of a John Kasich nomination is still far-fetched, though. He would need to win basically all the remaining delegates in the contest for a majority — which is simply not going to happen. The governor’s only hope is to emerge as the consensus candidate from a contested convention.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 16, 20161:44 AM

We cited David Wasserman earlier tonight about the importance of the Republican contests in Illinois and Missouri. He’s got some figures in his latest post at FiveThirtyEight.

To stay on track to win an outright majority of the delegates before the convention, Trump would need to be at 719 by the end of the night. He’s at 571 now, including the nine delegates from the Northern Mariana Islands and the 99 from Florida. He could win around 40 percent of North Carolina’s 72 delegates, writes Wasserman, which would get him to 600.

But if he were to sweep Illinois and Missouri’s 26 districts, he would net another 121 delegates, putting him at 721.

So for the anti-Trump forces, it’s important the other candidates win some of those districts.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 16, 20161:51 AM

Trump, as expected, wins Illinois for the Republicans. He is leading with 40 percent support against 26 percent for Cruz and 23 percent for Kasich.

On the Democratic side, with a third of the votes counted, Clinton is leading Sanders 53 to 46 percent.

It looks like some 3,000 Democrats in Illinois voted for Martin O’Malley, even though the former governor of Maryland dropped out weeks ago. A roughly equal number voted for Ben Carson in the state’s Republican primary, though. Some people never give up.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 16, 20161:54 AM

Trump is also projected to win in North Carolina, but he’s leading Cruz by only a few percentage points.

Remember: the Republican contest in North Carolina is entirely proportional, so it’s probably not going to matter very much in the delegate count.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 16, 20162:05 AM

Well, David Wasserman can be downer.

It’s increasingly possible that Ohio could be Trump’s only loss of the evening. If that happens, you might not have been able to script the day more perfectly for Trump.

The New Yorker would win a lot of delegates in Florida, Illinois and Missouri, but Kasich’s victory in Ohio could keep the anti-Trump vote split in the next few contests.

Moreover, Wasserman argues, Kasich’s victory might prevent the nevertrump camp from embarking on a campaign to get an independent on the ballot.

Politico reported earlier today that some movement conservatives are plotting a third-party candidacy. But time to stage such a bid is running out fast.

Steve Keller Steve Keller March 16, 20162:07 AM

Clinton victories in Ohio and North Carolina appear not to be as horrific for the Sanders campaign as expected. I’m especially intrigued that North Carolina (with 58 percent in) has Sanders down 55 to 40. Not only is this a Southern state, but it’s a state with a very high proportion of African-Americans among Democrats. Based on previous margins of victory, I’d expected Clinton to trounce Sanders here as she did in Mississippi (where she won 82 to 16).

Given proportional delegate allocation, keeping Clinton margins down is going to be crucial for any future for the Sanders campaign.

Still a (very) bad night for Sanders, but it remains unclear whether this is a campaign-killer. Keep an eye on the final results before writing your headlines.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 16, 20162:26 AM

Another failure of the Rubio campaign was its refusal to actually run a proper campaign. We covered this a bit when we reported ahead of the Iowa caucuses that Republicans in the first voting state were wondering just where Rubio’s people were. They seemed to think that a few speeches and television ads would do the trick.

Politico has the full story:

Rubio’s tight-knit group of mostly 40-something bros believed wholeheartedly that they didn’t need a specific early state win. They didn’t need a particular political base. They didn’t need to talk process. They didn’t need a ground game. They didn’t need to be the immediate frontrunner.

All they needed was Marco.

“Their confidence bordered on arrogance,” according to the political news website. I would say it did more than border on.

The same applied to all the Rubio supporters who, throughout January and February, were demanding that others, like Jeb Bush and John Kasich, just give up already so their candidate could take those votes and stop both Cruz and Trump.

Actually, arrogance isn’t the right word after all. Hubris is.

Greg R. Lawson Greg R. Lawson March 16, 20162:31 AM

The challenge for the Republican Party now is that Kasich will still split with Cruz and vice versa. Is it enough to deny Trump the critical 1,237? Not clear yet. But again, the convention is in Ohio. Home field advantage does matter.

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 16, 20162:34 AM

Anne Li writes about some of the puzzles involved in unlocking the 167 delegates (by the AP’s count) pledged to Rubio. The rules differ per states, she points out.

For example, Rubio’s seven now-released delegates from Kentucky must convene in a meeting with bound delegates in which they will vote in a secret ballot to reallocate Rubio’s delegates to another candidate.


Some states release delegates to support whomever they choose at the convention (for example, New Hampshire and Tennessee). Other states continue to bind delegates to the withdrawn candidate (Iowa) or they reallocate the delegates among the remaining candidates as if the withdrawn delegate had never qualified (Alaska).

Boris Ryvkin Boris Ryvkin March 16, 20162:38 AM

Trump’s failure to win Ohio means he needs to win 59 percent or more of the delegates in the contests going forward to pass the 1,237 threshold needed to win the nomination on the first ballot. Ohio was a victory of Kasich’s reelection machine combined with some crossover Democrats who broke for him to stop Trump.

It was a bitter defeat, which allowed the anti-Trump coalition (and majority of the media) to quickly forget about Trump’s 20-point victory in Florida, the exit of Rubio and Trump’s winning of ever county in Florida except Miami-Dade (where Rubio resides).

I still believe, especially if Trump pulls out a narrow victory in Missouri, that it will be politically next to impossible to deny him the nomination if he arrives at the convention just shy of the 50-percent threshold. No question planning is ongoing for either a third-party effort, some scheme to amend Rule 40 or to impose an “acceptable” candidate at the convention. I predict these will fail, and this putting aside Trump still potentially being able to get the delegate numbers he needs going forward.

In short, if Missouri is a Trump win and given the high margins in Illinois (where delegates are assigned by congressional district), this was not an Austerlitz- or Waterloo-type victory for Trump. Still, it was very close. An Ohio win could have ended this tonight and halted all talk of stopping Trump from getting the nomination. Now, Trump will very likely still get it, but lingering resistance will continue.

Joseph Shupac March 16, 20162:57 AM

Great analysis guys. Yikes, what a bloodbath this is! I never thought that Trump had any chance in the primaries, but finally now I am not so sure. Do any of you think that Trump won’t be the nominee?

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 16, 20163:04 AM

Joseph, I still have hope that Trump can be stopped at the convention, but the more support he gets at these primaries, the more damage such an effort would likely do to the Republican Party.

I wrote earlier this month about the possibility of a Republican Party split and I think that’s increasingly likely. If party actors have the will, there is a way to stop Trump. But doing so would infuriate him and his supporters, so we might be looking at a third-party bid one way or the other: Trump running as an independent or conservatives voting for something like a Constitution Party ticket.

Boris Ryvkin Boris Ryvkin March 16, 20163:20 AM

Disclosure — I am favorable toward Trump.

However, Missouri is looking exceedingly close. Its delegates are assigned in a hybrid fashion. Key will be if Trump wins the majority of congressional districts. The edge right now is to Trump.

Trump also put out word that he has a plan to counter a third-party drive by certain anti-Trump forces — do not know the details of this. There have also been analyses that it was in Trump’s interest to lose Ohio to Kasich, but overwhelming focus now is Cruz and Kasich remaining (Rubio voters possibly breaking for Cruz) and how this will complicate Trump’s math.

Regardless, tonight was another bitter blow for consensus Republicans — especially in Florida where Trump swept despite most Republican voters favoring a more moderate approach to immigration (Trump’s signature issue). Trump won 38 percent of non-Cuban Hispanics, according to some estimates in Florida, which is also very significant (do not know if this can translate nationally in a general election).

Practically, the race still looks to be on course for Trump as the Republican nominee. Will talk of stopping Trump die down with Kasich and Cruz remaining in the race? No.

Ideologically, the nationalist, populist wave within the GOP (aided by crossovers from primarily blue-collar white voters) does not look like it will crest. Additionally, Trump passed 50 percent nationally among Republican voters for the first time in a poll today (helped by Ben Carson’s endorsement). As mentioned, Rubio’s exit helps Cruz and to a lesser extent Kasich (who has no path to the nomination).

Steve Keller Steve Keller March 16, 20164:10 AM

Part of the reason why Illinois hasn’t been called yet for Democrats is Sanders has a nearly two-to-one lead in McHenry County and only 35 of 212 precincts have come in.

Steve Keller Steve Keller March 16, 20164:32 AM

Illinois goes Clinton. This is likely the worst possible night for Bernie Sanders. Even if Sanders were to pull it off in Missouri, the media will definitely call the race for Clinton tonight. The Sanders dream is really predicated on the idea of a tidal wave coming his way as time passes and so far that does not seem to be happening.

It appears (for now) that Michigan was a fluke and the clock is running out for more of them.

Joseph Shupac March 16, 20164:32 AM

Interesting that the candidates in Missouri, the “bellwether” state, are within a 1 percent margin of one another in both the Democratic and Republican races.

Joseph Shupac March 16, 20164:43 AM

Shame about Clinton and Trump both winning so big tonight. Not that the other candidates were necessarily so wonderful either, but it seems like an unhealthy thing if the general election ends up being between the spouse of a former president and a man who has quite literally no shame. Makes you wonder how all this might have been different had states like California, New York and a bunch of others not been so late-voting in the primary schedule.

Nick, do you see Cruz heading such a Constitution Party ticket, if it were to occur?

Nick Ottens Nick Ottens March 16, 201611:35 AM

Here are the figures after Tuesday:

Clinton is at 1,094 pledged delegates, according to the Associated Press. If you add the 467 superdelegates who have supported her, that puts her about halfway to the nomination. Sanders is at 774 pledged delegates plus 26 supers. Given that all the Democratic contests are proportional, it’s going to be very, very difficult for the Vermont senator to catch up.

Trump has 621 delegates, which means he is also about halfway there. He won all the delegates in Florida, at least 24 out of 69 in Illinois and 29 out of 72 in North Carolina.

Cruz is at 396. That number should go up, though, assuming he picks up delegates across Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina. We’ll have to wait for the final results and then, in the case of Illinois, it might be a little while longer before we get the final tally.

As to Joseph’s point, I don’t think the possibility of a Cruz third-party run should be ruled out. We tend to assume that a third-party challenge to Trump should come from the more centrist, “establishment” wing of the party but there is another third of the Republican electorate, the actual churchgoing evangelics who are paying serious attention to politics, that is equally appalled by the prospect of a Trump nomination. Given that Cruz is a conservative before he is a Republican, there is, I think, a remote chance he would run independently. And then the Constitution Party seems like a fit ideologically.

On the other hand, I’ve also argued that Cruz might be willing to let the Republican Party suffer a Trump candidacy if he thinks it will help him in 2020. Who knows?

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