Super Tuesday Fallout: Trump’s Staggering Triumph and the End of the Line for Rubio
1. If Rubio Wants to Save the GOP From Trump, There’s Only One Option Left
The New American Perspective has been bearish on Marco Rubio since our launch. It is increasingly clear that the Republican Party elite made a profoundly foolish choice in rallying around him. It is almost certainly the case that if John Kasich were not in the race, Rubio could have triumphed in Virginia — but if Rubio had not been in the race, it is likely that Ted Cruz would have won Arkansas and John Kasich would have won Vermont, denying Trump his lopsided state victory tally. Rubio’s sole win was in the quirky Minnesota caucuses, which gave just 22% and 17% of the vote to the eventual nominees in 2008 and 2012, respectively. And as the calendar shifts to winner-take-all states, Rubio’s presence in the race will actually make it more difficult to deny Trump an outright majority of delegates in the run-up to the convention. If Rubio drops out and endorses Kasich, for instance, Kasich could take delegate-rich Ohio from Trump. But Rubio is not going to take Florida, and everyone knows it but the Rubio team. If Rubio really wants to save the Republican Party from Trump, there’s only one way to do it.
2. Trump Is Building a New Coalition
To demonstrate the breadth and depth of Donald Trump’s ‘Silent Majority’ coalition, consider that he is the candidate of both self-described moderate Republicans and self-described Evangelicals. He is the first Republican candidate since Ronald Reagan to truly bring new voters into the process. His most lopsided victories occurred in Massachusetts and Alabama. No Republican candidate has ever won all of the primary states Trump has, and the calendar for the rest of the month is very favorable to him. On March 15, it might be fair to start calling him the presumptive nominee. Ted Cruz’s best shot at the nomination — or, at least, a brokered convention — was to sweep the South, and that didn’t happen. He didn’t even come close. Trump has genuine national appeal: he has secured victories in every region of the country except the Midwest, and that too will soon change. That he is now attracting support from governors and members of Congress is proof that savvy-enough politicians in the GOP fear that if they don’t get on board with Trump, he’ll only run them over — and fear, as Trump knows very well, is a better motivator than love.
3. The Writing’s On the Wall, But Bernie’s Got No Reason to Quit
Although Bernie Sanders turned in surprisingly strong performances in Colorado, Minnesota, and Oklahoma (and his home state of Vermont, of course), his disappointing performance in Massachusetts and humiliating showings in the South — fueled by Hillary’s near-unanimous support among black voters — tell us that he has nowhere to go. He simply has not been able to significantly expand his base beyond white progressives.
But Bernie’s not going anywhere: he owes the Democratic Party nothing, and he’s acutely aware of the generation gap dividing its voters — and he wants to help ensure that the next generation of Democratic primary voters is ready to upend the Clinton wing of the party. He’s got the money and the organization to move forward, so we should probably expect him to remain in the race until Hillary actually secures a majority of pledged delegates.
4. Hillary’s Theme Emerges?
George H.W. Bush, the last president to win a third term for his party, sometimes campaigned on the idea of cultivating a ‘kinder, gentler America.’ Hillary Clinton, in a surprising embrace of her femininity, is pivoting toward a theme we haven’t heard much from her since the early 1990s: ‘love and kindness,’ compassion, and wholeness. The wisdom of this approach is questionable, although the Republicans seem gleeful to provide her with the antithesis of kindness. But her sincerity cannot be doubted: it is a theme she’s returned to again and again in her career, despite that it is often met with ridicule. Hillary Clinton does not exactly exude warmth. But if John Kasich, who’s been on the scene for as long as Clinton herself and whose temper is legendary, can successfully recast himself as a paragon of compassion, I see no reason why Hillary Clinton can’t be believable.