NATIONAL HARBOR, MARYLAND, March 1, 2016 — Super Tuesday brought a ton of results that distributed plenty of delegates. What it did not bring was any definitive clarity to the 2016 presidential race. On the Republican side, businessman Donald Trump won the most states and delegates on the Republican side. A majority of Democrats backed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Yet neither Trump or Clinton delivered the knockout blow. Super Tuesday is usually the day where the frontrunners force weaker challengers out of the race. Super Tuesday 2016 did not alter the dynamic of the presidential race.
Trump won by large margins in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and Massachusetts. He eked out wins in Arkansas 33-30 over Texas Senator Cruz, in Virginia 34-32 over Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and in Vermont 32-30 over Ohio Governor John Kasich.
Cruz won big in his home state of Texas and won Oklahoma by more than six points over Trump and eight points over Rubio. Cruz also won Alaska by a narrow 36-33 margin over Trump.
Rubio won Minnesota easily and finished a strong second in several other states.
While Trump won, Rubio and Cruz both took a home a chunk of delegates. Both Rubio and Cruz now clearly have a rationale for staying in the race. On March 15, Florida and its 99 delegates are up for grabs. That state is winner-take-all. Rumors that Florida Governor Rick Scott was set to endorse Trump turned out be false. Governor Scott stated that he has not made an endorsement.
The wild card remains Kasich. His campaign is beginning to have the feel of a vanity project. Kasich’s campaign did come in second in New Hampshire, but he still lost that contest by nearly twenty points to Trump. He won some of the first 12 voters in Dixville Notch and two of the three Vermont rednecks from Newhart. Trump won Larry, but Kasich secured the support of his brother Darryl and his other brother Darryl. Ohio and its 66 delegates will be decided in another winner-take-all contest on the Ides of March. Kasich has won nothing, but insists he still has a path to victory. In most Super Tuesday states his support was in single digits.
Trump has 319 delegates, with Cruz garnering 226 delegates and Rubio 110 delegates. With 1,237 delegates required to win the GOP nomination, Trump moved forward but did not come anywhere close to closing the door.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson finished in fourth or fifth place in every Super Tuesday contest. The only candidate he finished ahead of was Kasich, who has 25 total delegates. Reaching double digits proved elusive for Carson, who has a total of eight delegates.
The Democrat picture is far murkier than Hillary Clinton supporters wish to admit. She gave an early victory speech where she vowed to bring people together while bashing the half of the country that she detests. as the night wore on, Vermont Governor Bernie Sanders proved far more resilient than early returns reported.
Clinton blasted Sanders in the Southern states, continuing the trend that began in South Carolina a few days earlier. Black voters back Clinton. Sanders appeals to white liberals because Vermont is a white liberal state.
In addition to large wins in Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia and Texas, Clinton also squeezed out a narrow win in Massachusetts.
Sanders easily won his home state of Vermont, and also notched big wins in Oklahoma, Minnesota and Colorado.
With Democrats allocating delegates based on straight proportional representation, Sanders is far from finished. Clinton won seven states and Sanders won four. Virtually all of Clinton’s wins came in the South. Now the race moves to areas more friendly to Sanders. Clinton also did badly in the caucus states, which was her undoing in 2008. The same liberal activists that dominated caucuses for Barack Obama eight years ago are behind Sanders. Conversely, Clinton does better in primaries where the electorate is slightly less liberal. Clinton has an advantage with the Superdelegates, but that support evaporated in 2008 and could again.
There are plenty of minefields ahead for Trump and Clinton.
The Republicans have another debate this Thursday on Fox News. Megan Kelly will be moderating the debate. Rubio’s five-day barrage of attacks on Trump may have been more effective that Trump’s camp is letting on. Trump won Super Tuesday, but Rubio is acting like a man with renewed confidence. A strong debate performance will get the rich donors who backed former Florida Governor Jeb Bush to open their wallets for Rubio. Cruz is also expected to throw everything including the kitchen sink at Trump. After months on offense, Trump has been on defense over issues ranging from David Duke to supporting Planned Parenthood to neutrality on Israel.
The Wisconsin primary is on Saturday, with contests including Hawaii one week after Super Tuesday. On March 10, Republicans have another debate in Miami, Rubio’s home turf.
Democrats have another debate on March 9, also in Miami. That is preceded by a debate this Sunday in Flint, Michigan. Sanders plays very well among the union faithful in Michigan.
Trump and Clinton are inching toward their respective goal lines, but neither one has put the game away.