Super Tuesday Fails to Deliver Decisiveness

March 2, 2016

Cover Photo Credits

Another Super Tuesday has come and gone, but it did not deliver the clarity many within the parties and the electorate were hoping for.

The Republican Race

For the Republicans, the ascendancy of Donald J. Trump continues. Trump won in Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, Vermont, and Massachusetts with varying percentages of the vote. Ted Cruz won his home state of Texas, which observers determined was a virtual must for him to remain in the race, ad well as the neighboring state of Oklahoma. Early Wednesday morning, Alaska was also declared for Cruz. Marco Rubio, on whom many in the party had pinned their hopes for the establishment counterbalance to Donald Trump, won only in Minnesota.

More concerningly, the party has failed to find a clear alternative to Trump for what it hopes will be a brokered convention. Only in Virginia and Georgia did Marco Rubio come in second to Trump. Cruz placed second in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama. John Kasich placed second in Vermont and Massachusetts. Cruz generally outperformed expectations, though he spent more money in Arkansas than any other candidate and failed to gain a majority, and also performed poorly among Evangelicals in Virginia, who were expected to be his base. On the other hand, Rubio was expected to gain enough support on Super Tuesday to become the establishment counterpoint to Trump, support that failed to materialize despite Rubio’s assertions that his attacks on Trump over the past ten days led to an increase in support.

It has become more and more clear that the party intends on a brokered convention and the main goal is to keep Trump from gaining a majority of the delegates. Perversely, despite his performance last night, Cruz was not in the conversation among commentators and analysts Wednesday morning. Rather, the hopes are that the respectable performances of Rubio and Kasich will follow them to their home states, with Rubio winning Florida and Kasich winning Ohio, both important swing states come general election time. Essentially, it seems the party will coalesce around a nominee based on their performances in these states, and the amount of support they can garner at a brokered nomination.

Until then, the race continues. Rubio is expected to announce Paul Singer as his National Finance Chairman in a few days, which will bring in enough money for him to continue to remain in the race, though the “hedge fund billionaire” breaks from the Repbulican consensus on LGBT issues. Whether Kasich can retain enough financial support to remain viable through Ohio remains unclear.

The Democratic Race

The Democratic Race remains a two-person event, and though Hillary Clinton gained almost twice as many delegates as Bernie Sanders in her wins on Tuesday, Sanders’ support remains strong. Clinton won in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Sanders took his own Vermont, Colorado, Minnesota, and Oklahoma. Importantly, neither candidate was particularly close to one another in the states in which they won, with Clinton winning 78% of the vote in Alabama and Sanders 86% in Vermont. Analysts conclude that Clinton’s campaign is still buoyed by the support of non-white voters who remain important constituents for the Democrats, and much of the discussion treated her as the presumptive nominee.

However, Sanders raised $21 million in February and has assuredly the largest war chest of any candidate in the race, most of it from small dollar donations. He will likely continue to remain a viable competitor to Clinton throughout the rest of the summer.