The two party establishments must have been wishing for different results than what they got last night. On the Democratic side, no doubt they were clearly hoping that Hillary Clinton would crush Bernie Sanders and force him out of the race quickly so that then Clinton and the party could go back to their familiar and comfortable space of oligarchy-friendly, Wall Street-friendly, and war-friendly policies without the pesky Sanders forcing her to address the issues of inequality, war, and the corrupt political system that have been the cornerstones of his candidacy.
She won the primary election states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia while Sanders took Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Vermont. While her wins in most states except for Massachusetts were by quite large margins, the fact that he won four contests means that the race is not over and he can continue to push for the progressive policies that have energized so many, especially the young. Clinton has so far won 543 delegates to Sanders’s 349 but she has a huge lead (457-22) in so-called ‘superdelegates’. These are assigned to party insiders and is a way of stacking the deck in favor of the party establishment. There are 4,763 total delegates at stake, requiring 2,382 to win the nomination
On the Republican side, the outcome must have been a nightmare for the party establishment, consisting of the worst of all possible outcomes. They must have been hoping that their blitzkrieg attacks on Donald Trump in the last week would result in him being brought down and their great anti-Trump hope Marco Rubio would become seen as a serious challenger to his dominance, with all the others dropping out.
Instead, Trump won seven contests, Ted Cruz three and Rubio just one. What that means is that Cruz, the person the party hates, now has a greater claim to waving the banner of being the anti-Trump than Rubio and he will continue to hang around. There are 2,472 Republican delegates at stake, requiring 1,237 for victory . Trump has won 285, Cruz has 161, and Rubio just 87. The Republicans do not seem to have superdelegates.
Even John Kasich has some hope to cling on to, coming in second in Vermont and Massachusetts, and he will likely stay in at least until the Ohio primary on March 15, much to the party’s chagrin, since he pushed Rubio down to third place in Massachusetts and Vermont harming Rubio’s candidacy even more. Kasich has 25 delegates. Kasich’s hope at this point may be to position himself as a vice-presidential pick who can carry his home state in the general election. Ben Carson will continue to be a ghostly figure wandering around the campaign for no apparent reason other than to keep his name in the news and get the suckers to keep sending him money.
The positions of Trump, Cruz, and Rubio for the Republican races Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia, Colorado were as follows:
Trump: 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 3, 2, 1, 2, 1, 1 (average position 1.45)
Cruz: 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 2, 1, 2, 1, 4, 3 (average position 2.27)
Rubio: 3, 3, 3, 2, 3, 1, 3, 3, 3, 3, 2 (average position 2.63)
While Trump won a lot of states, he may be disappointed that he did not win more and by larger margins. Winning just the caucus state of Minnesota and having eight third place finishes hardly supports the party’s expectation that Rubio would emerge from Super Tuesday as the knight in shining armor who could slay the Trump dragon. Cruz has won four contests so far but his two third place and two fourth place finishes hardly gives him a strong claim to take the nomination away from Trump either, even if the party did not hate him so much.
For some reason, Rubio seems to think that a win in his home state of Florida on March 15 will salvage his candidacy. But if Trump crushes him there, and current polls show him with a nearly 20 point lead, that day may well become for him the Ides of Marco, the way that that the Ides of March is now indelibly associated with the end of Julius Caesar.
Tomorrow evening sees the next Republican debate on Fox News. You can expect Cruz and Rubio to go after Trump again with even increased vigor as their desperation to stop him increases, but this time he will no doubt have planned counterattacks. It is going to be one hell of a nasty fight.