Marco Rubio is fighting on two fronts today. As we reported last week, the Floridian must best Ted Cruz in deep-red Southern states like Georgia and Texas — where a candidate needs at least 20 percent support to qualify for delegates — and defeat John Kasich in more moderate places like Massachusetts, Minnesota and Vermont to prove that he really is the last man standing against Trump.
That’s hard to pull off. Potential Cruz voters prize ideological purity over electability. For Kasich sympathizers, it is more likely the other way around. Rubio has been trying to square that circle by largely staying mum on social issues. He is counting on religious voters to find out for themselves that he is actually a hardliner on abortion (no exceptions, not even for incest and rape) and gay rights (overturn the Supreme Court’s decision; repeal executive orders that protect sexual minorities from discrimination).
We’ll find out tonight if it worked. If not, this could stay a three-way race for much longer.
Steve Keller signing on here. I’ll be posting more toward the evening and through the early morning hours as results come in.
Full disclosure: I’m a strong supporter of Bernie Sanders. That being said, I am not optimistic about his chances following the South Carolina primary. Even if he has a miserable showing, I do not expect this to be the end of his campaign. He has a large base of 35 to 40 percent of the Democratic electorate and is swimming in cash (having raised $42 million in February, doubling his January total).
Fortunately for his campaign, media expectations are virtually rock-bottom. A good showing for him would be winning two out of Massachusetts, Colorado, Oklahoma and Minnesota, in addition to his home state of Vermont. Sanders will get clobbered everywhere else, which means (counterintuitively) that media attention won’t be on those races.
The map becomes a whole lot more favorable from here on out, so tonight is about surviving for the Sanders campaign. The question is: Will the decision to concede South Carolina in favor of some of these states today — many of which include Sanders-favorable caucuses — pay off?
One last note on the Democratic side: Clinton was widely perceived to have “won” Super Tuesday in 2008. After which the Barack Obama campaign, having survived, made a strong push in March and changed the momentum of the race. It was not until after Super Tuesday (February 5) that Obama had a lead in the RealClearPolitics tracking poll. Are similar dynamics at play in this race?
I do not expect anyone to drop out of the race immediately due to tonight’s results, except maybe John Kasich. He will likely come under pressure from his party over the next few days to back Marco Rubio as the establishment candidate (similar to that which Bernie Sanders will probably face with respect to Clinton). Kasich hopes to hold out until Ohio but will not be able to weather this storm of pressure. He doesn’t have the resources or campaign infrastructure to push onward, especially after the resounding Donald Trump victory sends the Republican establishment into utter panic mode.
Tonight is make or break time for several presidential candidates. Florida senator Marco Rubio, Texas senator Ted Cruz and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders are all hoping that the Super Tuesday primaries will result in a shocker akin to Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign or Rick Santorum’s 2012 insurgent effort against Mitt Romney. The chances of this happening tonight are slim: Donald Trump is leading the Republican polls in nearly every state that is voting tonight and his brash and straightforward rhetoric on the trail is capturing the imaginations and anger of white blue-collar voters who either feel left behind or whose wages have stagnated.
If Ted Cruz fails to win his home state of Texas tonight, his campaign is over. Cruz is expected to win the state by a single-digit margin: doing so is his only hope of acquiring enough delegates to carry him to the winner-takes-all contests on March 15.
Marco Rubio, the Republican establishment’s last hope to steal the nomination from Trump, will continue his campaign regardless of the results tonight. It is highly unlikely that he will win any state in the South, but he could have a decent showing in Georgia where he has appealed to suburban voters in the Atlanta area. Rubio’s strategy will remain the same regardless of the final vote tally: win his home state of Florida and keep Trump’s delegate count down until the July convention.
Hey all, hope you’re having a super day. I agree pretty much with the comments below, but I would add that, unlike previous years, it is not entirely inconceivable that a candidate who loses today could still run in the general election as an independent if Trump wins the Republican nomination. This applies not only to Rubio, but, at least hypothetically, to Kasich or even Jeb Bush as well. So this year, because of Trump, a loss in the primary may not prevent a candidate from running for president.
In a three-person general election race, if no candidate receives 50 percent of the electoral college seats then it becomes the fifty states (represented by an intra-state vote by each state’s congressmen) who decide who the president will be — and most states might be inclined to support neither Trump nor a Democratic candidate. I don’t think this will happen, but then again I didn’t think Trump would ever make it this far to begin with. And it has happened before, in 1824.
Anyway, sorry for that tangent, let’s get back to Super Tuesday. The largest of the states being contested today, including Texas, Georgia and Colorado, are not necessarily the same places they were eight or even four years ago in previous primaries. Colorado and Texas, for example, have both been involved in the shale energy bonanza since the Obama-Mccain election, which has seen their economies grow and grow, though now there is finally more economic uncertainty in these states as energy prices have collapsed.
Meanwhile, the American Southeast, where Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee are all at play today, has had the fastest growing Hispanic population in any part of the United States during the past decade or so. And Atlanta, Georgia, which in 2012 voted for Newt Gingrich (who had been a congressional representative of Georgia for twenty years) rather than Romney, has by some measures been the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country.
Anybody want to make a state-by-state prediction? Nick has agreed to pay the winner $1 million.
Ha! I think Chuck Todd is probably right and Trump will win everything but Texas, where Ted Cruz ekes out a victory. If he doesn’t, I agree with Dan: his campaign would be over.
I will not wager anything on the Democratic contest, because who knows what American Samoa is going to do? My fortune could be beholden to 200 caucusgoers on a paradise island!
Ryan Bohl here, author of Geopolitics Made Super and regular contributor here at the Atlantic Sentinel. Today could be definitive for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton; we’ll see how the results bear themselves out. If Trump wins, the Republican civil war will accelerate, but it will prove once and for all that the Republican establishment has lost control of its rank and file.
Sanders, meanwhile, is hoping for enough delegates to bring his platforms to the Democratic convention. But the Democrats look positively peaceable compared to the Republicans, who look like they may repeat Chicago ’68, when violent demonstrations overtook the Democratic convention as delegates failed to unite the party.
The path to the nomination for all candidates not named Trump is very narrow. Even if Cruz wins his home state of Texas, which still looks likely at the moment, his path is tough. He has not expanded his base of support and Trump has eaten into his, especially his assumed support among evangelical Christians. Rubio needs to win somewhere before Florida. Kasich is angling to take the battle to the convention, which is in his (and my) backyard in Cleveland.
However, they need to keep Trump from getting the magic 1,237 delegates. Assuming Texas’ 155 go to Cruz, that will give him only 172. Meanwhile, Trump will probably rack up around 400 and be nearly 40 percent to the nomination with no one else close.
Kasich won’t drop out yet. Guaranteed. He will drop out if he loses Ohio, but I know some of his people. He thinks if Rubio fails in Florida and he wins Ohio, he can make the case that he the last respectable candidate standing who could have appeal in a general.
Agree with Ryan there is a civil war going on in the Republican Party. These divisions have been festering for a while, but Trump has brought them out in the open. I wrote about this the other day, calling it the Republican schism of 2016.
An interesting take here by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry on the Republican “establishment”. He argues that movement conservatives have vanquished the establishment, only they forgot to take its place. That helps explain the rise of Trump.
There are many explanations for the Trump phenomenon, but one of them has been the fecklessness of those who hold the institutional levers of power in the Republican Party. Usually, there’s a smoke-filled room where the candidate is picked. Conservatives have kicked everyone out of the smoked-filled room — but they forgot to move in.
Georgia, Vermont and Virginia will be the first states to close their polls tonight, at 7 PM local time.
Georgia could be interesting. As Dan wrote earlier, it’s Rubio’s best hope of picking up a sizable number of delegates in the South. He could place third statewide and still win two out of three delegates in the various congressional districts around Atlanta. The senator does need at least 20 percent support in all of Georgia to qualify for any of the 31 out of 76 delegates who are awarded proportionately statewide, though. Polls have him and Cruz at 20 percent each and Trump at 37 percent.
For Bernie Sanders, Georgia also holds promise. Although the majority of Democratic voters in the state is likely to be black, benefiting Clinton, the Vermont senator could do better in the Atlanta area and win as many as 37 delegates against 65 for the former secretary of state.
Sanders should, of course, win his home state. The only question there is if Clinton will get the 15 percent support she needed to qualify for delegates at all.
For the Republicans, Vermont will be an afterthought. It has a mere sixteen delegates on their side. The only candidate who will care is John Kasich, who placed second in neighboring New Hampshire last month. But Trump is expected to win.
Virginia is usually a bellwether for both parties and could be an important swing state in November. It has a racially mixed population. Blacks are expected to make up around a third of the electorate in the Democratic primary — fewer than in most Super Tuesday states. The swing voters in both parties will be the better-educated and wealthier inhabitants of the north, around Washington DC, and east of the state.
The third constituency in Virginia are white working-class voters in the counties bordering West Virginia. This is Trump’s Appalachian heartland and the region was a strong base of support for Clinton as well when she first ran in 2008.
Republicans in Virginia award their 49 delegates according to the statewide result, without any thresholds. Simple and Ben Carson may have something to show for the $800,000 he raised there! The Democrats give 33 delegates according to the state result and 62 based on the outcome in each district.
Boris Ryvkin, occasional contributor to the Atlantic Sentinel, here.
All eyes are on Texas and I agree with Greg’s analysis re: Kasich and Ohio (although I don’t have an inside track into his campaign) and Cruz’ challenge to expand his base of support. Cruz’ vulnerabilities became apparent in South Carolina where he did not win a single county and underperformed with evangelicals to Trump. He seems to be becoming a Huckabee/Santorum factional conservative candidate with more money and somewhat better organization. But for the tectonic shift at grassroots level, he would be cleaning up tonight.
Another item to point out is that Texas is a trigger winner-takes-all delegate state such that Cruz has to pass a threshold to get all 155 delegates. If he wins Texas, but just edges Trump, it should stay proportional and would count almost as a loss long term.
Also agree with Greg regarding a “hide the ball” strategy against Trump to keep him from getting the delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot. Roger Stone, long-time Trump confidant and perennial Republican insider, has floated a possibility that Mitt Romney could file if Rubio fails to win Florida on March 15. Some of Trump’s rivals (although not Cruz) have begun touting the possibility of a brokered convention as a final effort to stop Trump, which would be much harder to do were he to fully run the table tonight.
I think Trump could pull off wins everywhere except Texas with Cruz edging him out, but perhaps not getting the decisive win to get all the delegates (note: Cruz has massive early voting advantage).
On the Republican civil war, much ink has been spilled and Nick has commented on this at length. For a well-written, biting and recent piece, I would recommend this article by Laura Ingraham just out. It broadly drills down to the main fault lines at the heart of the intra-Republican debate (my paraphrase/summation): interventionist foreign policy, international trade and immigration/sovereignty/border security.
Rubio predicts, “You’re going to see very clearly after tonight that Trump has no chance of ever getting the delegates he needs” to become the nominee.
Whoever wins the Super Tuesday primaries tonight, we can be sure of one thing: John Kasich will be at the bottom of the list.
The governor of Ohio and former congressman has long looked past the Super Tuesday states, toward the March 8 and 15 primaries, where someone with his background and pedigree can win a boatload of delegates in the midwest. Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio could go Kasich’s way if he devotes all of his time and attention to those states. Even then, it is improbable that Kasich would win all four; at best, Michigan and Ohio would be in his column.
Kasich’s grown-up campaign, where he is choosing to talk about the issues instead of attacking his Republican opponents, has only gotten him so far. In this election cycle, “compromise” and “hope” are dirty words and have yet to capture the energy of the Republican primary voter.
Nate Silver argues over at FiveThirtyEight‘s own election live blog that the best way to stop Trump may not be for Cruz, Kasich and Rubio to all stay in the race. Starting on March 15, states become increasingly winner-takes-all, he points out, “so a plurality of the vote for Trump could go a long way.”
Also keep in mind, as we pointed out in the Atlantic Sentinel‘s guide to this year’s presidential primaries, that many of the states that vote in April, including Connecticut, Maryland and New York, are more centrist. So if Cruz wins Texas today and comes in second to Trump across the South, and if Rubio wins Florida later this month and does well in the other coastal states (172 delegates in California all the way at the end!), I don’t know if there’s a way Trump could come to Cleveland with a majority of the delegates behind him.
NBC calls Georgia for Clinton and Trump.
Virginia goes to Clinton on the Democratic side, but NBC has Rubio and Trump neck-and-neck there.
Sanders, as expected, wins Vermont, his home state. But NBC has Kasich and Trump vying for first place on the Republican side.
Early estimates from CNN put Trump ahead in Virginia by 3 percentage points over Marco Rubio, 34 to 31. Ted Cruz is at 16 percent, a figure that illustrates his unpopularity with the typical Republican establishment voter in the Northern Virginia suburbs.
Remember: Virginia‘s 49 Republican delegates are allocated proportionately according to the statewide result. So a few points one way or the other might not make much of a difference. But even if Rubio and Trump effectively tie in the delegate count, the former desperately needs a proper win. It matters for the narrative of the race, less so if you look at it dispassionately.
If you’re in the nevertrump camp, the results in Georgia, Vermont and Virginia don’t look that terrible.
Yes, the mogul is far ahead in Georgia. But according to the CBS exit poll, Cruz and Rubio combined have about as much support: 40 to 40 percent.
In Vermont and Virginia, the second- and third-place finishers combined far outnumber Trump. Kasich and Rubio have exactly 50 percent support between them in the former against 32 percent for Trump. In the latter, Cruz and Rubio share 47 percent support against 34 percent for Trump.
The next round of polls close in Alabama, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Tennessee at 8.
Alabama could be one of Sanders’ weakest states. More Democrats there self-identify as “conservative” than “very liberal” and many are black. Both should benefit Clinton, who has polled at nearly 70 percent in the state. That could give her something like 35 delegates against eighteen for Sanders, FiveThirtyEight estimates.
The Republicans are vying for fifty delegates in Alabama. Trump has polled at around 40 percent support. But Cruz could do unexpectedly well in the delegate count if his support is spread out across rural areas. Rubio would then be squeezed between the two.
The Floridian could lose another three-way contest in Massachusetts where Trump is appealing to his type of voters and Kasich — as seems to be the case in next-door Vermont tonight — could be the first choice of many moderates and liberals who collectively make up nearly half the Republican electorate in the state. All its 42 delegates are awarded proportionally based on the statewide result, though, so this won’t be a total loss for anyone.
If Sanders doesn’t win the Democratic primary in Massachusetts, Steve is going to be disappointed tonight. The senator has polled close to neck-and-neck with Clinton in the state, which is 85 percent white and more liberal than most. If Sanders can’t win here, then where?
Sanders has also polled surprisingly well in Oklahoma. Conservative Democrats outnumber very liberal ones there, but many of them are low-income and may be susceptible to Sanders’ left-wing populism. If it’s a good night for Sanders, he will more or less split Oklahoma’s 38 delegates with Clinton.
Oklahoma’s 43 Republican delegates are likely to split three ways. The state’s five congressional districts award one delegate each to the top three contenders, so long as they’re all between 15 and 50 percent support. That is all but certain to happen, so everyone’s a winner!
Tennessee has similar rules for its 27 district delegates. As long as the runner-up to Trump is between 20 and 67 percent support, he will win one delegate per district against two for the real-estate mogul. Then there are another 31 delegates allocated proportionally among the candidates who get at least 20 percent support statewide. That could be tricky for both Cruz and Rubio, who are clearly splitting the anti-Trump vote.
On the Democratic side, Clinton has been far ahead of Sanders in the polls but they may end up splitting the delegates fairly evenly because 44 out of 67 are awarded on the district level.
You can’t deny that Bernie Sanders has big crowds at all of his rallies. His supporters love him and he loves his supporters. His message, though, is stale: corrupt campaign finance system, donors and billionaires running the American political system, wealth inequality at astromical levels, etc., etc.
Vermonters clearly love what he’s selling — which is probably why he’s won election after election in that state.
No real surprises so far. Watch to see if Kasich can pull off an upset in Vermont and if Rubio can come away with Virginia.
Don’t forget that there is an unofficial “sub-primary” happening: the contest to see who represents the anti-Trump, anti-Cruz bloc. Kasich hopes to muddy those waters tonight.
This, however, may help Trump in the end, as it will hamper Rubio’s efforts to consolidate anti-Trump support.
Once again, Secretary Clinton dominates over Senator Sanders in the African American community.
According to exit polls, Clinton is winning black voters in Virginia by an 82-to-18 percent margin. These numbers come on the heels of a massive 80+ percent vote among Agrican Americans in South Carolina.
For Democratic presidential candidates, it is critical to draw minority voters if they are to have a shot at winning the nomination and the presidency. Sanders doesn’t seem to have that ability, at least among black voters.
The best thing for the Republicans would be a decisive victory for some faction or another tonight rather than yet another split vote. If any one candidate believes they can continue, they will do so. Trump has benefited endlessly from this split field.
For the Democrats, the more delegates Sanders ends up with, the more leftward the platform will have to turn, but Hillary has the machine well geared to take on a foe like Trump. Her surrogates have demonstrated in the past a murderous willingness to play dirty. It’s often forgotten the whole “Obama is a secret foreigner” thing started in her camp in 2008 — while her campaign never outright said it, it insinuated it by leaking photos of Obama in traditional Kenyan clothes.
The fact that Rubio is performing so well (according to exit polls) among inside-the-Beltway DC suburb folks in Virginia may ultimately be a weakness — that is, if Trump and (especially) Cruz can make the case that this demonstrates he’s out of touch with the rest of the Republican Party.
Key danger in winning the establishment nod: not making it apparent that you’re doing it.
Hillary Clinton wins the caucus (not caucuses, there’s only one caucus site) on American Samoa, ABC reports. That’s six more delegates for her.
The 55,000 Samoans will not be able to vote in the general election in November, because they’re not citizens.
The Republicans on the islands caucus on March 22.
NPR caller saying that electronic voting machines are switching selections from “Trump” to “Rubio” in Texas. So begin the invariable accusations.
The American South has changed vastly since 1965, but remains culturally out of sync with the northern cities. Sanders represents the North and Clinton the South; Clinton’s results are indicative of that.
If Trump wins Virginia after all, it will be based on high support in the rural areas in the west, the south and perhaps a decent showing in the DC suburbs.
The Democratic contests in Massachusetts and Oklahoma are too early to call for NBC. This is probably good news for Sanders. These are his best chances of besting Clinton.
CNN says Trump wins in Alabama, Massachusetts and Tennessee.
These early results are more significant in terms of geography than delegates; with his win in Massachussets, he can now brag that he has proved victorious among multiple Republican constituencies across the country, from the South (Alabama, Georgia), Northeast (New Hampshire, Massachusetts) to the West (Nevada).
Remember, though: the Republicans in Alabama and Tennessee allocate their delegates fairly proportionately. And apparently Trump is neck-and-neck with Cruz in Oklahoma.
NBC reports, based on exit polls, that Cruz and Rubio are struggling to clear the 20-percent thresholds in Alabama and Georgia. That would mean trouble for the anti-Trump side. If the other candidates don’t get over 20 percent, Trump wins all 126 delegates from those two states.
Exit polls in Massachusetts are looking very good for Sanders. CNN exit poll has him winning by 6. Similar numbers in Oklahoma. Not putting too much stock into it just yet, but it underscores how rough primary polling can be.
Next up: Arkansas. Polls close there at 8:30. Clinton, the state’s former first lady, should win handsomely. Sanders may make up the difference a little in delegates, though, which are distributed according to a combination of district and state voting results.
On the Republican side — who knows? There’s barely been any polling. One survey recently put Cruz ahead, but only narrowly. Rubio has been endorsed by the state’s governor, Asa Hutchinson, but that’s unlikely to influence Trump voters. Arkansas’ delegate rules are deliciously arcane. Unless a candidate wins 50 percent support or more, he only gets two out of three delegates in each of the state’s four congressional districts and the runner-up is basically assured one delegate, unless he falls under 15 percent support.
As for the 28 delegates allocated statewide: a candidate must have 50 percent support to win all of them, minus one delegate for each candidate who hits 15 percent support. But if no one gets 50 percent, which seems likely, the 28 delegates will be allocated proportionately.
RealClearPolitics reporting good numbers for Cruz in his home state of Texas — which is bad news for the Republicans hoping to simplify the field.
In addition to what Dan just wrote about Virginia, check this out from FiveThirtyEight: Trump is performing better in Virginia Beach than he is in the other suburbs. So it’s not just the rural west.
Virginia Beach has a large military population, owing the nearby naval base at Norfolk, but also a high number of evangelical voters. Remember — Trump absolutely swept the veteran vote in South Carolina and did better than Cruz with religious voters there.
Although we are looking at most of the races being called (based on exit polling), we still have surprisingly few hard numbers. Even Georgia, where the polls closed almost 90 minutes ago, only about 5 percent of precincts have reported. Expect these numbers to change dramatically, even if the order of placement for candidates doesn’t.
What matters in many of these states, as my fellow authors are pointing out, is that the final delegate apportionment is roughly proportional. This isn’t simple electoral college math, it’s goofy/convoluted delegate math. america
Yup, Clinton is projected to win the Democratic primary in Arkansas while Cruz and Trump are vying for first place on the Republican side.
Cruz, apparently, spent a lot of money in the state. It would be good for him to have at least more than one win (Texas) tonight to argue that he, not Rubio, is the anti-Trump consensus candidate.
Ben Casselman argues at FiveThirtyEight that it’s worth noting that Southern states like Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee not only have a large black voting population in the Democratic primaries; they are also among the poorest states that voted today and have experienced some of the slowest economic recoveries.
Given Sanders’ focus on economic issues, and his apparent support among low-income voters, it’s interesting to see Clinton do so well in these states.
Cruz looks to barely survive to fight another day by what looks like a home-state win. However, it does look like a Trump sweep everywhere else with only the exact proportion of delegates in question. Rubio may be doing better in Virginian suburbs, but Trump will still win and continues showing that strength among Cruz’ evangelical constituency and the military.
Fox News is calling Virginia for Trump. The other networks have yet to make up their minds.
FiveThirtyEight‘s Nate Silver points out that Rubio has made the result closer than preelection polls suggested, but he still trails Trump by about 5 percentage points with most of the vote counted.
On the other hand, most of the remaining vote is in Rubio-friendly Northern Virginia.
Whatever the outcome, Virginia’s delegate allocation is highly proportional — “so winning the state matters a lot more for the media narrative than for the delegate math,” according to Silver.
With the exception of Alaska, where I think the sun has yet to rise, right? the last caucuses and primaries today are about to close: Colorado, Texas and Minnesota.
Colorado only votes for the Democrats. It’s a must-win for Sanders. Assuming he carries the white, very-liberal vote and Clinton does better with Hispanics, they could more or less split the 66 delegates but in Sanders’ favor.
Texas is the jackpot for both parties tonight. It has 222 delegates on the Democratic side and 155 for the Republicans.
Clinton will probably win the Democratic primary, although lefties in the Austin area could give Sanders a boost. Cruz must win his home state or Rubio becomes the only candidate with a (slim) chance of catching up with Trump. The three will likely share the 47 statewide delegates proportionately and then we’ll see what happens at the district level where second-place finishers can get one out of three delegates.
FiveThirtyEight argues that Trump may win more delegates than his vote total indicates because he does well with white voters in areas that have large minority populations.
The minority population won’t vote in the Republican primary, but each district gets the same number of delegates no matter the vote total.
Minnesota then. It’s a caucus in a state that tends to favor well-organized outliers. Cruz may do well here. Rick Santorum won in 2012. Clinton won less than a third of the votes in the Democratic caucuses eight years ago and the electorate is demographically similar to Iowa’s — which nearly Sanders won. So not friendly territory for the frontrunners in either party. (Yes, I’m calling Trump the frontrunner. Have to face up to reality at some point.)
Rubio losing Virginia is very bad for his narrative for the reasons I mentioned before. You can only call third- to fifth-place finishes a victory so many times.
Donald Trump is winning across the board and is at a close second in Texas. A Virginia win for Trump is bad news for Marco Rubio; of all the states that hold contests tonight, Virginia was one where a combination of establishment Republicans and military veterans/active-duty were thought to be anathema to Trump’s personality.
Rubio did well outside the Beltway in the Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties — the counties where establishment Relublican voters working in the DC area live. Outside these areas (including Richmond and York county) Trump dominates.
NBC projects Cruz will win his home state of Texas outright. That’s a relief for him. Clinton is projected to win the Democratic primary in the state.
It’s a big night for Clinton and Trump. The odds of that being the match-up in November are better than ever. Which voice is the mood of America this year?
Ted Cruz winning Oklahoma and Texas are good for his campaign, but don’t really do much other than to prove he can win his home turf and underscore that his base of support is really limited to religious conservatives.
MSNBC calls Oklahoma for Ted Cruz. Big win for him, mainly because it allows his campaign to go beyond his Texas stronghold. Could this give more ammunition against Rubio in the “who should drop out” discussion?
The establishment of the Republican Party really should get off the Rubio bandwagon. He isn’t proving he can win anywhere yet. Cruz is the only other candidate to beat Trump. While his support is hard conservative, it still matters that no one else has beaten Trump. Everyone else has to spin why coming in second or third is good. That only goes so far.
Sanders wins Oklahoma. Not the biggest of his possible prizes of the night, but any victory outside of small New England states is exceeding expectations.
I agree with Steve on the one hand and Dan and Greg on the other: Yes, Cruz is a factional candidate who cannot appeal outside the religious right, but Rubio is an incredibly weak candidate as well. Anyone who’s been reading our coverage of him will know we’re not impressed.
Why am I hoping Rubio will win then?
First, because Trump is dangerous. The fate of the republic should not have to rest with Hillary Clinton.
Second, because I expect a Rubio defeat will put the nail in the coffin of Bush Republicanism and allow the party to finally move on.
Rubio is what all the too-smart-by-half Republican consultants and strategists have been saying the party needs: a young, twenty-first-century Hispanic American. But he doesn’t actually change anything. His social views are terribly reactionary. His foreign policy is more alarmist and blusterous than George W. Bush’s. His economic policy is a throwback to the 1980s.
In my perfect world, the Republican Party reinvents itself along the lines of Britain’s Conservative Party. Maybe when it suffers a third presidential election defeat in a row with a candidate who was supposed to represent the “future” of the party will it reach the same conclusion.
Building on Greg’s point, the Republican establishment has some soul-searching to do. Assuming that Rubio doesn’t win a single state tonight, what possibly could the establishment do to stop Trump’s march to the nomination? Is Kasich a better bet? Ted Cruz is too anti-establishment for the establishment. What other options are there?
Rubio’s campaign has some explaining to do. They need to find some way to convince donors and party elites that Rubio is still the best roadblock to a Trump nomination.
The irony for Ted Cruz is he is more of an “outsider” by philosophy than Trump. He is the has the most dedicated view of federalism and has a more pragmatic (though not pragmatic enough) foreign policy than Rubio. However, that won’t matter because Trump “trumps” him through sheer force of personality and the willingness to say and do anything without shame.
Responding to Daniel, I think after tonight, the Republican establishment must make a fateful decision: to corral the wagons and support Trump or to split the party and possibly undo themselves. I suspect they’ll do the former; their goal is power and even if they despise their leader, they prefer that to being out of power.
Here’s the bottom line: for those who feel bullied by America’s PC police, Trump looks like their ultimate revenge. He can be “their bully” to get back at those who they think have sold them out or looked down on them. Unlike a Cruz, who at least has some policy platform to deal with those exact concerns, Trump is more cathartic and that is winning over the more egg-headed Texas senator. Cruz is performing better than the rest of the Republican field, but it does not look like enough.
Disagree slightly with Nick on “Bush Republicanism.” Even if Trump wins the nomination (and the presidency), there will be plenty of Republicans in the House and Senate who are muscular neoconservatives in the Bush 43 mold: a strong and unparalleled military with no peer competitor; American exceptionalism; America as a force for good in the world; and maintaining and bolstering Washington’s traditional alliances. A Trump presidency will create pushback among the John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio faction on national security policy.
Neoconservatism is still very much the backbone of the Republican Party’s foreign policy.
Trump has made is clear his foreign policy will be based on the appearance of strength. He hasn’t given any indication how he’ll do that, but the odds are good he’ll bomb plenty of things in the Middle East and then use his salesmen skills to elevate that into the public consciousness. It won’t matter that Obama’s own anti-Islamic State air war has been both expensive and vast: Obama’s not a good warrior/cheerleader. Trump would be.
Considering a Trump foreign policy is difficult. However, while he probably is willing to bomb things, not sure he will put boots on the ground. He takes what some have characterized as a “pro-dictator” stance on the assumption it leads to more stability. Cruz has taken a similar position, though he is more aggressive with Russia than Trump seems to be.
It is known that Cruz makes Senate office interns read Jeanne Kirkpatrick’s famous Commentary Magazine article, “On Dictatorships and Double Standards,” the piece that caught Ronald Reagan’s eye and led to her United Nations ambassador appointment). Suppose Trump might too…?
Other than Paul, Cruz and Trump are the only candidates offering a break with neoconservative orthodoxy.
Donald Trump frequently uses the $150 billion figure as the amount of money Iran would receive from international sanctions relief. This number, however, is inaccurate according to the Treasury Department. Treasury officials estimate that total relief will be $100 billion, of which about $50 billion is already devoted to payments for various business transactions and debts owed.
Facts haven’t stopped Trump’s momentum before, though, and it isn’t likely to stop him after Super Tuesday.
Tonight could go from bad to worse for Rubio. Not only is he not winning anything; he is struggling to clear the 20-percent threshold in several states.
David Wasserman writes at FiveThirtyEight he’s winning 16 percent in Alabama so far, 19.9 percent in Tennessee, 18.9 percent in Texas and 19.5 percent in Vermont. If those numbers don’t improve, Rubio will likely fall behind Cruz in the delegate count.
In Arkansas, Georgia and Oklahoma, Rubio is clearing the thresholds, though.
Looking at how bad Rubio is doing tonight, and really through the rest of the campaign, I’m struck by the fact that if any other candidate was doing this poorly, that big cane would come from offstage to yank them out of the spotlight. Yet Rubio keeps on getting resuscitated after disappointing finishes via “great” debate performances and childish joke routines.
Ultimately, these “too-smart-by-half Republican consultants and strategists” (as Nick put it) are trying to spin their product. He’s the best hope they have to avoid the whole party come crashing down with Trump or Cruz — and taking their careers in Republican politics out as well.
Hillary Clinton should be a third of the way to the nomination after tonight, Politico reports. The website gives her 883 of the 2,383 delegates needed to win.
On the Republican side, Trump is ahead with 221 delegates. He needs 1,237 to win the nomination. Cruz is at 69 and Rubio at 41.
After sitting through Donald Trump’s latest stream of consciousness, this European needs a rest.
I want to thank our readers for staying with us tonight and my fellow contributors for sharing their insights and opinions! Dan, Greg, Joseph, Ryan and Steve will stick around to analyze the results, so don’t go away. There is more to come!
The Republican establishment has taken so many blows this cycle, it’s hard to believe they have much left. Maybe Rubio pulls out Minnesota, but the only candidates winning primaries have thus far been the two with the most anti-establishment rhetoric and positions. This is especially true in foreign policy. Should neocons jump ship as some, like Robert Kagan, have said, can there be a new Republican vision?
To second what Greg writes: on foreign policy, a return to “normalcy” (per Harding) and a far more restrained, Disraeli-like, cost/benefit approach to overseas interventions may be dawning. Trump is the most dovish of the leading candidates and the grassroots support he has — seen in his wave across the country — is partly anchored on a skepticism involving intervention (similarities here to UKIP’s Nigel Farage).
On a more metaphorical note — to change things up a bit — cue a clip from Kirk Douglas’ Spartacus (1960) to approximate the results tonight.
Regardless how poorly Marco Rubio does tonight, he can point to winning at least some delegates. And that his strategy pre-March 15: win enough delegates to continue to stay in the race and keep Trump below 50 percent of delegates by the time the convention starts.
The problem is that Rubio has done horribly in the South and is a distant second or third in many contests tonight. He is leading Minnesota, but that state only has so many delegates.
Interesting note: Trump is third in Minnesota. If that holds, this will be the first time in the primary when Trump is not either first or second.
With Sanders winning Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Vermont, I think it’s safe to say that his campaign has somewhat exceeded (probably artificially low) expectations. That being said, it’s pretty clear he is at a substantial disadvantage. Expect the Democratic Party establishment to close ranks around Hillary Clinton — something which may actually help Sanders if done inartfully.
All in all, I don’t think tonight is something either the Clinton or Sanders camp is very happy about — although for Clinton, it’s obviously better to win more. But without having delivered a knockout punch, how does she close the deal? Does she?
A lot will be said tonight regarding Sanders’ continued poor showing among black voters. I will have to say that I disagree with many of the conclusions. I don’t think that Sanders will have to perform well among African Americans in the primary in order to show he can bring them out in a general election. Compared to Clinton, Sanders may not be doing very well among African Americans. Compared to Donald Trump, a guy hedging against denouncing the Klu Klux Klan? Sanders will win 90 percent or more, as Democrats usually do.
In terms of using primary demographics to highlight vulnerabilities, I think it should actually be very concerning to the Clinton camp that they are not doing well among young people. Young people, after all, are notoriously unreliable in a general election. Will they come out for nominee Clinton or stay home?
On the other side, tonight has been the dream night for Donald Trump. His competitors have been unable to knock him out of the race and he continues to enjoy a commanding lead with few exceptions. The Republican establishment’s best bet to stop Trump is still unclear, though Cruz is probably in a stronger position now.
Neither of these races is over yet.