What Super Tuesday Could Mean

5 minute read

By Zeke J. Miller

The largest chunk of delegates in both parties will be awarded Tuesday as more than 11 states across the country make their choices known on the aptly named “Super Tuesday.” For Hillary Clinton, fresh off a nearly 50-point win in South Carolina, it’s an opportunity to all-but wrap up the Democratic nomination. While Bernie Sanders has cash and enthusiasm, her narrow lead from the four early states and massive lead among super-delegates means she’s already in strong position to make a Sanders comeback mathematically difficult. Across the aisle there is little certainty, other than that Donald Trump is set to be the biggest winner of the day. Ted Cruz faces a do-or-die test of winning his home state of Texas, and must secure a large share of delegates in other states if he hopes to take his candidacy forward. Marco Rubio is playing to survive until March 15, when his home state of Florida votes in the first winner-take-all contests. Tuesday’s races are all proportional, but complicated thresholds and allocation formulae mean John Kasich and Ben Carson are likely to be afterthoughts in many states.

Trump’s expected performance is raising the alarm among the professional GOP, who see only the narrowest path to stopping Trump. While some in the party have been advocating for consolidation, if the game is simply to stop Trump, for the next two weeks, the more candidates are truly the merrier. Cruz is best positioned as Trump’s rival on Super Tuesday, with his more conservative message and deep investment in the South. If Kasich were to drop out, it’s unlikely any remaining candidate other than Trump would be able to secure a victory in his home state of Ohio, which is a winner-take-all race on March 15. And the same goes for Rubio in Florida. Those three performances may draw just enough delegates from Trump to reveal a narrow path for a single candidate to win the nomination from under Trump—or at least open the possibility of the non-Trump candidates forcing a contested convention. If it sounds like a long shot, it’s because it is, but it’s the only home the Republican Party has left.

In the meantime, many in the GOP are preparing to go scorched-earth on Trump, who came under fire Sunday for declining to disavow David Duke or the Ku Klux Klan. Rubio has turned taking on Trump into the central theme of his campaign, peppering in insults to Trump’s skin tone and manhood between his policy lines. “We have to rally now not just to stop Donald Trump, but to save the conservative movement,” he told supporters Sunday. Meanwhile, voicing publicly what many in the party say privately, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, is pledging to vote for someone else if the general election comes down to Clinton and Trump.

But not everyone in the GOP is putting up a fight. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie turned heads—and drew intense backlash—for endorsing Trump Friday. Abandoning his call for expanding the GOP, his opposition to building a wall and a ban on Muslim immigration, Christie cast his support behind the candidate he deemed most electable in hopes of maintaining his political relevance. And in a blow to Ted Cruz, anti-immigration reform Sen. Jeff Sessions endorsed Trump, despite Cruz’s frequent name-checks of the conservative lawmaker.

Trump wants to be “associated” with “interesting quotes.” Governors who quit the campaign trail face a long road back to normalcy. And inside Jeb Bush‘s failed super PAC.

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

Jeb Bush’s Ambitions Paid Dividends for GOP Admaker Over the Years
Inside the failed Right to Rise effort to elect Bush [Washington Post]

Clinton Shifts Focus to Trump After South Carolina Win
A general election pivot after a commanding victory [Associated Press]

Donald Trump Promises to Make America Litigious Again
The 2016 contender adds rolling back First Amendment rights to his platform, TIME’s Philip Elliott reports

Christie Splits With His Past in Backing Trump
An abrupt departure from arguing for expanding the GOP tent [New York Times]

State House to White House? Not So Easy
After ending contests, governors face tricky issues, ex-governors seek new careers [Wall Street Journal]

Marco Rubio Finds Renewed Purpose in Taking On Trump
After spending much of the campaign trying to ignore him. [TIME]

Sound Off

“You know what they say about men with small hands … You can’t trust ‘em.” — Marco Rubio in Roanoke, Va. Sunday regarding Donald Trump

“Look, Mussolini was Mussolini. It’s okay to—it’s a very good quote, it’s a very interesting quote.” — Donald Trump defending his retweet of a quote from the Italian fascist

Bits and Bites

Alabama’s Jeff Sessions Becomes First Senator to Endorse Trump [NBC]

DNC Vice Chair Quits to Endorse Bernie Sanders [TIME]

Kasich Campaign Dials Back Chances in Michigan [Wall Street Journal]

Chris Christie Endorses Donald Trump for President [TIME]

Here’s How Twitter Reacted to Chris Christie Endorsing Donald Trump [TIME]

Trump Mortgage Failed. Here’s What That Says About the GOP Front-Runner. [Washington Post]

As Super Tuesday Looms, Sanders Faces Hard Realities of Delegate Numbers [Washington Post]

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