Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton leave field behind surfing on Super-Tuesday wave
For the Republican establishment this was not a happy day
Massachusetts told the story of Super-Tuesday. Victories by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump: she, on natural Bernie Sanders turf, albeit by a tight margin; he, romping home with 49 per cent, proving as he also swept the South that he has an ability to transcend the Republican Party’s regional and ideological divisions to hoover up support among its more liberal and secular voters. Clinton, demonstrating her lock on the African-American vote in the South, comfortably outpolled Sanders and, barring catastrophe, is now a shoo-in to be her party’s nominee . Trump, too, is now the clear favourite for the Republican nomination.
Still vying to stake his claim as the only one who can beat Trump, Texas senator Ted Cruz notched up victories in his home state and neighbouring Oklahoma. Crucially, he pushed rival Senator Marco Rubio firmly into third place in most of the races Trump won. But Cruz did not come close to Trump in much of the South, and failed to resonate in more moderate Massachusetts and Virginia. The states voting later this month may be less friendly to his hardline ideological politics. He is still in there but it is an uphill climb.
For the Republican establishment this was not a happy day. Belated efforts to pour money into stopping the Trump runaway train have fallen flat despite the latter’s ability to trump every gaffe with one even more outrageous, a tendency the rank and file seems to revel in. His latest, a disgraceful refusal to repudiate Ku Klux Klan support, could gift several marginal states to Clinton in the general election proper. Polls continue to show her well able to beat him head-to-head (they suggest Sanders would do even better).
Because most state primary and caucus delegates are allocated proportionately, and not winner-take-all, Trump’s lead, although largely unassailable by any one candidate, may not suffice to give him an absolute majority at this summer’s convention. At that point his rivals hope, if they have managed to stay in, an oust-Trump majority may be organisable. But staying in may be difficult – Rubio failed even to reach the delegate threshold of 20 per cent on Tuesday in Texas, Vermont and Alabama.
Sanders will stay in the Democratic race, but Clinton’s Massachusetts success in the Boston area and working-class towns like Lowell, New Bedford and Springfield suggest she will do well with similar white voters in Ohio, Michigan and other northern states still to come. In the South, in contrast to 2008, she did well in Alabama, Georgia and Virginia, where blacks accounted for more than half the voters in some districts, and in Texas where Hispanics also dominated in many districts. Her challenge now is to craft her message to ensure that the young idealistic voters who flocked to Sanders’s banner, stay the course and do not drift away in disillusionment.