March 1, 2016
Some actual analysis tomorrow, but for now, several thoughts come to mind:
Bernie did relatively well but is mathematically eliminated, however that’s not necessarily as good for Hillary as it sounds.
More on this later, but she racked up such large margins in Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Virginia, that Bernie literally can’t catch up among earned delegates, even if he exceeds expectations for the rest of the race.
The narrative is that she’s the presumptive nominee and won the night, particularly after she won narrowly in Massachusetts, taking a state most thought was a must for Bernie. He suffers from proximity to New Hampshire and Vermont and having recently led several polls.
It was never an easy state for him. Winning Oklahoma, Colorado, and Minnesota by double digits after getting obliterated in South Carolina shows something too. His supporters are not easily dissuaded. He raised $7 million on Leap Day, and will surely pull in a similar number over the next day or two.
Lots of implications here….
Rubio is still paying for the New Hampshire debate choke.
Narrative is a powerful thing. So is math. Both conspired to ruin Rubio’s evening. We need winners and losers. Trump won the night, Cruz exceeded predictions of doom, Kasich had his moment in Vermont. Nobody is willing to discuss Ben Carson.
A loser is required. Marco was selected to fill this role. He has actually won a state now. Unfortunately for him, Minnesota released caucus returns after most of the other states were declared. After it was known he would fall short of 20% in Texas and miss out on delegates.
If he’d won in Virginia instead of narrowly losing to Trump, he would have “won” the evening. That’s how narrow the margin between success and failure is. He lost Virginia because of Kasich. There’s a Rubio part of the state and a Trump part of the state.
Marco led by large margins in the affluent, educated counties in Northern Virginia. His campaign claims Kasich played spoiler, diverting some of these votes. They are absolutely correct. The Ohio governor took a last-minute trip to the counties in question. He pulled 17% in Fairfax County.
Kasich got about 9% statewide, heavily concentrated in Rubio’s best area. The gap between Marco and Trump was 3%. I’m buying the Rubio argument. Here’s the thing. It’s his own damn fault.
The only reason John Kasich is still alive and sometimes kicking is his 2nd place finish in New Hampshire, about 6 points and a few spots ahead of Rubio. Marco was surging before he face-planted. If he’d had his customary strong debate, he finishes second, Kasich goes home.
Rubio also finishes a much closer second in South Carolina, or perhaps even wins. No questions about whether Marco or Ted are better challengers, no Kasich diverting votes in the best areas for Rubio.
Trump didn’t raise his ceiling.
At the time of this writing, he’s won 7 of 10 states, with Alaska just beginning to report data. Massachusetts, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama were absolute blowouts. However, only MA and AL were significantly north of 40%.
Arkansas, Vermont, and Virginia were close wins, with Trump in the mid-30s. In Oklahoma and Texas, he landed in the very high 20s, Minnesota the low 20s.
This was a pretty good cross-section of states. Except for the West and Pacific, the whole country was represented. His average result was 36%. After March 8, most of the really good Trump states, those where he’ll easily break 40%, are off the board.
By the time the race moves to winner-take-all, he’s in a more modest range, with the exception of Florida, where he’s quite strong and a major problem for Rubio.
Here’s the key part. That means the anti-Trump forces do not need a single candidate to prevent Trump from getting to 1237 before the convention. He would be a huge favorite to enter the convention with the largest amount of delegates, but a three-way race almost guarantees a brokered convention.
This doesn’t mean Trump can’t clinch the nomination on March 15. He still can. If he wins 4 out of 5 states, killing off Rubio in Florida and Kasich in Ohio, he winds up one-on-one with Cruz and a huge delegate lead.
Trump leads the polls in all 5 states. Don’t take this to mean we’re necessarily on track for that political junkie’s dream. But, if Trump is in the mid-upper 30s, it’s not impossible for Rubio and Cruz to both survive past March 15, exactly the way some envisioned this before the voting started.
Lots more to cover in the morning. Apparently, all 5 candidates are still planning on being in the race when we get there.