Capital Brief, 2 March 2016
After Super Tuesday: Clinton vs. Trump?
- On Tuesday, March 1, about a dozen states and territories voted in both Democratic and Republican primary races (incl. Texas, Georgia, Virginia, Minnesota, and Massechusetts).
- Hillary Clinton won big on the Democratic side, amassing victories in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia among others.
- Bernie Sanders took a handful of states – Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Vermont.
- On the left, the overall delegate count stands at Clinton (595) vs. Sanders (405).
- For the Republican contest, Donald Trump emerged as the decisive victor, taking wins in Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, among others.
- Ted Cruz won his home state Texas, Oklahoma, and Alaska. Rubio’s sole victory, Minnesota.
- On the right, Trump stands firmly in first place with 319 delegates, followed by Cruz at 226, and Rubio with just 110.
- Clinton’s victories on Super Tuesday reinforce the argument of widespread electability, at least among voters on the left. She won handily and did so in particular by amassing coalitions of minority voters. The so-called "Obama Coalition" is firmly in the Clinton camp, even if Sanders remains strong among young voters.
- Despite momentum in the early voting states, Sanders’ few wins on Tuesday reinforce the argument that he is unable to build a coalition beyond isolated demographics (white, educated, upper middle class liberals and young people). Even Massachusetts – bordering his home state of Vermont, where Sanders was hoping to claim an important victory – swung for Clinton.
- Following Super Tuesday, Donald Trump seems unstoppable as the Republican frontrunner. At this point, he has a healthy lead in the delegate count. He has proven able to turn out his supporters, not “reliable” voters, in all regions of the country and in states of varying demographics, sizes, voting histories. Super Tuesday proved that recent attacks on Trump, namely by Rubio, did nothing to dampen his stronghold over conservative voters.
- Trump benefits from the splintering of the rest of the Republican field. Smaller candidates like Kasich and Carson have no reason to remain in the race at this stage. And After Tuesday, Cruz – firmly in second place – has no reason to quit now.
- A path to victory for Rubio looks unclear. A win in Florida, his home state, would be important (a loss would be even more consequential), but he needs a string of victories to make the case that he can win all over the country in a variety of states and across the courants battling within the Party. In essence, he needs to demonstrate that he can do what Trump has already done.
- The Establishment backs Rubio, but so far voters are unwilling to lend him the same support as the Party machinery. Unless Rubio wins big in the coming weeks, his best hope for securing the nomination may be to prevent Trump from winning the necessary number of delegates and going to a contested convention this summer. This strategy is dangerous and would underscore the reasons why primary voters so strongly rebuke the Establishment and what they see as elite, insular practices that ignore the will of rank-and-file conservative voters.