Super Tuesday has come and gone and the race to the nomination got a lot clearer – at least on the Democratic side. For the Republicans, the message is more mixed; Trump won more states than the other four candidates combined but not more delegates.
For the Democrats, Clinton won seven states and Sanders won four, making the race seem competitive, at least on the surface. Sanders came close in a fifth state, Massachusetts, but was far behind in the rest of the Clinton wins. On the delegate count, however, Clinton took full advantage of the proportional distribution of delegates to extend her lead over Sanders. While there are still many big states left to vote, such as New York, California and Florida, Sanders will not only have to win them but, increasingly, he will have to win big to overcome Clinton’s lead – and that’s not even counting the so-called super delegates who are massively on her side. Sanders will fight on but it looks increasingly doubtful if he can come back. If he can take any solace in this situation, the Clinton campaign is increasingly talking about his issues and he will undoubtedly be responsible for an upswing in Democratic votes come the fall. Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats are likely to come out of this united.
While Trump also won seven states, his margins were thinner than in the Democratic elections. In fact, he didn’t get 50% of the vote in a single state (coming close only in, ironically, Massachusetts) and in most cases, defeated his closest rival by only a few percentage points. As a result he gained only 25 more delegates than Ted Cruz, thanks to Cruz’ big win in Texas and surprise victory in Alaska. In Minnesota, Rubio took the state and Trump actually finished third. I doubt if he’ll be mentioning that result in any of his speeches, unless he decides to call Minnesotans stupid. Trump is still the solid favorite but only has 46% of assigned delegates (compared to Clinton’s 60% share).
The results Tuesday were supposed to make the Republican race clearer but it is unlikely to do so. Trump will keep calling on his opponents to drop out – starting to sound almost desperate in the process. While Ben Carson will likely quit (possibly to take a run at a Senate seat), Kasich, who came close in Vermont, will stay on at least until Ohio where a win could give him enough delegates to be a force is Trump can’t secure enough delegates to win outright before the Republican convention. Rubio’s win in Minnesota breathes a little life into his campaign as might his decent showings in several southern states where he outpolled Cruz. He’ll certainly hang in until Florida where a significant win would put him right back into the hunt. So the next big day is March 15 when both Ohio and Florida vote.
Trump will also begin to face attacks from another front. With the growing confidence of a front-running campaign, Clinton will start to hone her attacks on Trump – both as practice for the big race in the fall but also to further divide and damage the Republican Party. At this point, the Republicans might almost wish for Trump to do even better – because it looks increasingly unlikely his campaign will collapse now – so they can try to rally around a candidate now rather than when too much chaos has been created.
And that’s a little more than ten minutes.