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Politics
The Party Line is dedicated to examining regional issues and policies through the figures who give shape to them. These are critical, complex, and even downright confusing times we live in. There’s a lot to navigate nationally and in the Carolinas; whether it’s elections, debates on gay marriage, public school closings, or tax incentives for economic development. The Party Line’s goal is to offer a provocative, intelligent look at the issues and players behind the action; a view that ultimately offers the necessary insight for Carolina voters to hold public servants more accountable.

Some Thoughts on Super Tuesday and What's Ahead

Michael Bitzer
Michael Bitzer
/
WFAE

Donald Trump, while not completely engulfing his opponents with a tsunami, did extremely well on Super Tuesday. Most observers would normally designate any other candidate with similar success as the front-runner, working toward the status of presumptive nominee.Yet the declarations and the panic mood by some in the GOP of “he can’t be, he won’t be” belies the fact that, in the more important component of the presidential nomination battle, Trump is at the same delegate count, post-Super Tuesday, that Mitt Romney was in 2012.

In fact, Trump’s delegate count is running slightly ahead (a strict comparison between 2016 and 2012 isn’t quite comparable) of where Mitt Romney was in terms of the number of primaries and caucuses leading up to Super Tuesday. But the critical votes going forward pertain to the accumulation of delegates toward the 1237 threshold to capture the GOP nomination.

For the anti-Trump forces, Super Tuesday made it apparent that only Ted Cruz is the viable candidacy to bring the strongest challenge to the front runner. While capturing his home state was the true litmus test for whether Cruz could continue, the added benefit of winning Oklahoma and Alaska adds to Cruz’s narrative that his ability to beat Trump (granted, in states that were favorable to Cruz) will be the legitimacy that Cruz’s campaign will need to move forward.

Marco Rubio failed to gain momentum and credibility in challenging Trump. Finishing second and third in a variety of states (granted a close finish in Virginia) while only winning Minnesota (and appearing to be tied in the delegate allocation there) means whatever momentum Rubio was banking on should probably evaporate leading toward important contests on March 15.

And while Rubio is banking on his own home state advantage in Florida, recent polling seems to point towards another Trump win in where the delegate awarding is ‘winner take all.’ However, the rally of money, especially by wealthy donors who are petrified of a Trump candidacy, could keep Rubio in the contest to battle Cruz as the anti-Trump candidate.

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In the long run, though, that only helps Trump to keep a divided field moving into winner-take-all contests.

On the Democratic side, while Sanders was able to lock down his home state of Vermont and states like Colorado and Oklahoma, Clinton’s dominance of Southern states and what caught many as a surprise win in Massachusetts has all but locked the nomination for her.

With a smattering of contests between now and March 15, all eyes will turn to the contests in Ohio, Illinois, Florida, and North Carolina to see if the Trump dominance will continue, or does something dramatic happen to between now and then to reshape the field?

Based on what we’ve seen so far, don’t be surprised by anything.