On the campaign trail: Super Tuesday

As the name certainly suggests, Super Tuesday is a big day in the American political system, and the results of Tuesday’s primaries are certain to affect the terrain on the 2016 campaign trail. On the first of March, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia all held their primary elections for both Democratic and Republican candidates, and, unsurprisingly, the conditions were strongly in favor of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, respectively. Hillary Clinton was expected to hold favor in all but two states throughout the primary elections on Tuesday, whereas Sanders was expected to have only Vermont, his home state, and Minnesota. Trump, meanwhile, was suspected of having a strong lead in all states aside from Ted Cruz’s home state of Texas.

So, how did the results of Super Tuesday’s Primary Elections meet prior expectations? Ultimately, there were a few exceptions to the expectations, but not many: Trump garnered a commanding lead on the side of the Republican Party, winning Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia, all by total popular votes of at least 33%. Interestingly, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz only secured four states between one another, with Cruz grabbing the delegates from three states and Rubio securing a victory in Minnesota. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, also won seven of all available states on Super Tuesday, receiving delegates from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Sanders, meanwhile, secured victories in Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and his home state of Vermont.

The results of Tuesday’s primary elections were likely precipitated by the most recent Republican and Democratic debates, but responses to the latest Republican debate made things a bit more interesting, if not more surprising, than they would otherwise have been. Specifically, it was Marco Rubio who made waves in the February 25th GOP debate, especially when he took it upon himself to try and throw a wrench in Donald Trump’s hopes of receiving the Republican nomination. Naturally, Rubio’s apparent hesitance to attack Trump clearly evaporated during the last GOP debate, presumably since it has become clear to establishment Republicans that Trump has frighteningly good odds of running off with the nomination.

Rubio’s attacks on Trump included, but were certainly not limited to, implications that Trump’s famous remarks regarding illegal immigration were hypocritical. “You’re the only person on this stage that’s ever been fined for hiring people to work on your project illegally,” Rubio remarked. Another attack on the part of Rubio consisted of an attack on Trump’s inherited wealth. “If he hadn’t inherited $200 million,” suggested Rubio, “you know where Donald Trump would be right now? Selling watches in Manhattan.”

Cruz was clearly feeling the pressure in the GOP’s February 25th debate as well, and also took the opportunity to directly attack Trump. Ultimately, it was clear that Rubio and Cruz realized rather the same thing about the final debate before Super Tuesday: it was the final chance for mainstream Republicans to shake Trump from their shoulders. Although Cruz ultimately did not prove quite as vocal as Rubio, he did fashion a jab in Trump’s direction regarding lawsuits alleging that “Trump University” defrauded its students. “I want you to think about . . . having the Republican nominee on the stand in court,” stated Cruz, “being cross-examined about whether he committed fraud.”

Ben Carson, meanwhile, had nearly dropped off of the radar altogether by the time of the latest GOP debate, with one of his more memorable statements during the debate being, “[c]an somebody attack me please?”

Unfortunately for Cruz and Rubio, however, their surprising and antagonistic performances in the February 25th GOP could not have been enough to slow the momentum of the Trump campaign. Their final debate before the Super Tuesday caucuses came only two days after Trump campaign achieved one of its most significant victories yet in the Nevada caucuses, in which Trump won more of the popular vote than Rubio and Cruz combined. Sensing that his several surprising victories consisted of a restructuring of the Republican Party altogether, Trump later remarked, “We are building a new Republican Party. A lot of new people are coming in… and we’re building a much bigger, much stronger Republican Party.”

The results of Super Tuesday on the Democratic side, however, may not have been quite as predictable as those of the Republican Party. The last Democratic debate, in fact, occurred on February 11th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, taking place only two days after Sanders’ considerable win in the New Hampshire primary. Although it has been a decent amount of time since the Democratic candidates took the debate stage, and although Sanders’ win suggested unprecedented forward momentum against a candidate that was formerly considered the inevitable candidate, Sanders’ victory in New Hampshire was followed by significant Clinton victories in both Nevada and South Carolina. Clearly, Clinton seems to have undergone a considerable change in forward momentum since New Hampshire.

The results of Super Tuesday, for better or worse, more than likely indicate who we may expect as Republican and Democratic candidates. Although it is also likely that the more determined and well-back candidates, such as Bernie Sanders, will continue to walk the campaign trail for a while longer, the results of Super Tuesday’s primaries have at least indicated that Trump is almost sure to run off with the Republican nomination, despite the damnedest of the Establishment Republicans.

-Austin Wash ’16, Senior Politics/Opinions Editor

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