Why you should care
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A Super Tuesday, indeed. Yuge wins for Donald Trump, but the race ain’t over, not yet. Our thoughts on what’s next for the contenders.
What’s Up Trump’s Sleeve
What do you do after a day of cleaning up delegates? Donald J. Trump’s schedule has a three-day break — that’s some confidence there, eh? — before rallies in Michigan and Louisiana on Friday. In the meantime, he’s resting up in Palm Beach, Florida. Sorry, Marco — he’s in your house.
But over the longer run? Expect the unexpected from the proven master of surprise. We’re thinking endorsements. He’s already picked up a couple of credentializers in Chris Christie and Jeff Sessions. What if he got Rudy Giuliani or, say, David Petraeus? Then there’s policy. Trump’s been thin here, but now he’s on track to secure the GOP nomination. He might turn to a major policy speech or initiative, perhaps on — wait for it — racial reconciliation. To many, it’ll sound like a preposterous idea. But this is Donald J. Trump we’re talking about.
Why Cruz Could Still Win
Cruz isn’t out of it — yet. By losing Texas, Oklahoma and splitting the Alaska delegates (12 to Cruz, 11 to Trump), the real estate mogul missed his chance to take Cruz out definitively. Now, the Texas senator’s itinerary speaks volumes about his strategy: Next up is Kansas, one of the reddest states in the country, where he’ll try to bolster his crusading conservative reputation in what could be winnable ground. He’ll need to look further than that, of course, and Michigan (March 8) or North Carolina (March 15) might provide an opportunity to unleash the attack ads and slow the Trump train down. Should Cruz remain the last candidate standing against Trump, it’ll be an unenviable choice for the Republican establishment.
What Rubio Must Do
It’s a less-than-effusive homecoming for Florida’s junior senator: Yes, he won Minnesota and came in a close second in Virginia tonight, but Marco Rubio still needs to close the 16-point gap between himself and Trump by the March 15 Florida primary. And that’d just be a start. Tonight, his delegate count stands at 106, compared to 205 for Cruz and 315 for Trump.
But here’s a scenario in which Rubio stays in the game: Gov. John Kasich could lose the March 15 primary in his home state, Ohio — current polls show the governor trailing Trump by about 5 percent — and drop out. Should Carson (finally) leave the race too, Rubio could theoretically sweep up some new support. Let’s face it: That’s unlikely. The good news for Rubio is that he’s only 44 and very fresh-faced.
Celebration for Clinton
Hillary Clinton’s celebrating today, not just because she now has 1055 delegates (Bernie Sanders has 418), but because a new CNN/ORC poll shows that she’d handily beat Trump in a general election, 52–44. The polls suggest that the tougher competition, in fact, would be either Cruz or Rubio.
Is Fear a Double-Edged Sword?
Trump has undeniably stoked voter turnout for the Republican Party, evangelizing new voters in part by ramping up fears over immigration and terrorism. But fear is starting to play a major role in goosing Democratic voting — against Trump. “It’s a scary election,” Susie Sharfman, a 54-year-old college administrator in Atlanta, said. Experts say Clinton hasn’t been able to inspire young progressives and may face low general-election turnout as a result. But if Trump is the nominee, her faults may not matter: Democrats could flock to the polls simply to try to stop Trump.