Republican Donald Trump rolled to wins in Michigan and Mississippi on Tuesday, adding to his delegate count and giving Ohio Gov. John Kasich a stinging slight in his own neighborhood. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, lost and was caught off balance as Democratic rival Bernie Sanders proved the pre-Election Day polls wrong in Michigan.
Tuesday’s voting was not likely to upend the race, which seems to be coasting toward giving the nominations to Trump and Clinton. The pathway there, however, might have twists ahead.
Kasich, Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida were unlikely to yield to Trump after again failing to overtake him. Kasich had hoped to have a strong showing in Michigan, another Midwest state with a struggling economy. Kasich instead seemed heading toward a second- or even third-place finish. That could prove problematic as the race shifts to a win-or-quit contest in his home state.
Cruz and Rubio largely ceded Tuesday’s contests to focus on bigger races that come next week. In the process, Rubio seemed likely to cede any delegates from both states, failing to pass a viability threshold. It was not what Rubio needed ahead of his make-or-break contest in his home state next week.
Trump’s win in Mississippi continued his streak, which now counts 14 victories in his column. Speaking to reporters in Florida, Trump crowed about his wins in Michigan and Mississippi and pointed to the victories as more evidence that he could redraw the electoral map in November if he is the nominee. He bragged about perhaps even being able to win reliably Democratic New York.
“I have a chance of New York. Could you imagine a state as big as New York?” he said as though he were shocked.
Clinton’s wide victory over Sanders in Mississippi came thanks to overwhelming support among black voters who were insufficient to save her in Michigan. Sanders’ populist attack on trade deals seemed broke through in Michigan, a state with an economy that is still slower to recover than other states. Clinton campaign aides had expected a tight race, but the loss was a stunner.
Trump and Clinton remained ahead in their races for delegates to the nominating convention. Even in loss, Clinton was essentially going to tie with Sanders in Michigan, and claim more delegates than Sanders in Mississippi. The candidates are now chasing the party insiders and activists more than states themselves. The byzantine rules in each party give even runners-up delegates, and Clinton’s superior political machine has proved more effective at running up the numbers. Republicans were now considering the very real possibility that they might arrive at their convention in Cleveland without a nominee.
Clinton, perhaps wrongly, took the optimistic route as she closed out her Michigan campaign with a Monday night rally. “It’s exciting to be here in Detroit, a city on the way back up,” Clinton said, a contrast to Sanders’ dour assessment of the state’s economy. “We are going to have a Renaissance in manufacturing,” she added. In the end, the doomsday tone might have been the better move.
The Clinton campaign had been camped out in Michigan in recent days, dispatching her husband and daughter to events, too. It proved insufficient, and Sanders’ win made clear the self-described democratic socialist was not even glancing at the exit.
Ahead of the voting, Clinton urged Democrats to stop flirting with Sanders and get behind her—and put the primary behind the party, too. “The sooner that I could be come your nominee, the more I can begin to turn my attention to the Republicans,” she said. She, like her top aides, thought Tuesday’s voting would end with different results.
The former Secretary of State’s win in Mississippi did not come as a surprise: the state has the highest percentage of black residents in the country, and Clinton has proven time and again that African-Americans are the bedrock of her support among Democrats. Her troubles in Michigan were a surprise based on public polling, but Clinton aides have been fretting about their internal numbers in recent days.
She won a remarkable 86% of black voters in Mississippi, according to CNN’s exit polls, continuing the pattern she has held in similar southern states like South Carolina and Alabama. Sanders performed best among white voters and college graduates. In Michigan, that number fell to fewer than two-thirds.
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Trump and Clinton are ahead in their races for delegates to the nominating convention. Those activists are what the candidates are now chasing, more than states themselves. The byzantine rules in each party give even runners-up delegates, but Clinton’s superior political machine has proved more effective at running up the numbers. Republicans were now considering the very real possibility that they might arrive at their convention in Cleveland without a nominee.
Clinton took the optimistic route as she closed out her Michigan campaign with a Monday night rally. “It’s exciting to be here in Detroit, a city on the way back up,” Clinton said, a contrast to Sanders’ dour assessment of the state’s economy. “We are going to have a Renaissance in manufacturing,” she added. The Clinton campaign has been camped out in Michigan in recent days, dispatching her husband and daughter to events, too. “We needed to spend the extra time, and it paid off,” said one senior adviser. Many in the upper ranks of Clinton’s campaign were trying to hasten Sanders from the race, and a loss in Michigan could be yet another nudge for him to leave the stage.
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Clinton urged Democrats to stop flirting with Sanders and get behind her—and put the primary behind the party, too. “The sooner that I could be come your nominee, the more I can begin to turn my attention to the Republicans,” she said. That didn’t stop her from criticizing Trump to a rowdy crowd of more than 800 people. “We cannot allow a person like that become President of the United States,” she said, sounding as though she was already the nominee. “We need to unify our country, not divide it.”
Republicans in Hawaii and Idaho were also voting Tuesday. Cruz carried the rural Western state with ease. It was never a state where candidates truly fought, so it was little more than a name-ID contest. Even so, it helped Cruz stop the Trump-spun narrative that he’s not winning. Trump, meantime, carried Hawaii.
Those states were, however, small chips ahead of March 15’s contests, which make an important shift. Under party rules next week, winners of these GOP contests start collecting all of the delegates as opposed to the contests before it when delegates were allocated in proportion to vote tallies. The shift to winner-take-all suddenly makes losing even more painful, and might usher some of these candidates from the race. Clinton and Trump alike were already looking forward to the morning after, March 16.
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