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Super Tuesday II: The Defeat of Rubio and The Path to Chaos

Here's our roundup of Super Tuesday: Round Two

Keith Sonia

Naked Politic Blogger

Ohio and Florida, Missouri, Illinois, North Carolina – if you wanted to measure the pulse of the United States electorate, you could do far worse than these states. North Carolina has been decided on a razor’s edge the last two presidential elections, while Ohio and Florida are regarded as the ultimate swing states – without them, the path to 270 Electoral Votes, and victory, is extraordinarily narrow, as John Kerry, John McCain, and Mitt Romney have painfully realised in recent years.

On the Republican side, it was largely another romp for Donald Trump, the billionaire (maybe) who has seen his rallies descend into something out of some backwards Parliament, full of slurs and fisticuffs and rancour. He won a tight contest over Ted Cruz in Missouri, and comfortable victories in Illinois, North Carolina, and Florida. The latter victory proved the final insult for the former “Saviour of the GOP,” Marco Rubio. The Florida Senator suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Trump in his home state, a disaster for the latest establishment Republican candidate.

Rubio, who has already announced his plan to stand down from the Senate following the November election, hasn’t got the clearest way forward, politically. The animosity between frontrunner Trump and “Lil Marco” is unlikely to dissipate in any way that would allow for Rubio to join Trump on the ticket (also, there is plenty of reason to believe associating with candidate Trump in such formal fashion would be political suicide in the long-term). It’s possible that Rubio could run for Governor of Florida in 2018 as means to returning to political life, but for now, his defeat at the hands of Trump has knocked a once promising career off track and into a tailspin.

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The lone bright spot in the search for sanity in the Republican race was found in John Kasich’s win in Ohio. The Governor of the Buckeye State was able to hold off Trump and ensure that his campaign go forth, the last man standing on behalf of the few moderate Republicans still left at the forefront of American politics. Though Kasich’s win must have felt sweet, the Ohio Governor will need a miracle, and a nasty floor fight at the convention in Cleveland, to sniff the nomination. Instead, his win denies Trump an easy path to the 1,237 delegates the reality star-turned-professional bigot needs to lock everything up.

Though Trump is still favoured to be the Republican nominee, there have been a myriad of stories that have emerged in regards to plots by the conservative donor class to hijack the Republican convention and wrestle away the nomination from Trump. There have also been rumblings of a third-party plot, which could be a spectacular failure or, potentially, signal the death of the once proud Grand Old Party. Regardless, we haven’t seen this sort of political intrigue and machinery in decades. Trump has promised that if the nomination is taken from him, that Cleveland should prepare for riots – he probably isn’t wrong to suggest that. His supporters have clearly shown a troubling propensity for violence.

On the Democratic side of things, Hillary Clinton could hardly have had a better evening. There were rumblings of Ohio going the way of Michigan, where Bernie Sanders defied polls and won a shock victory to give his campaign a second wind. Those rumblings were quickly made to be unfounded, as Clinton was able to sweep the board, winning in all states, including big victories in Florida and North Carolina that heaped ever more delegates into her basket.

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For Sanders, the math is inevitable. He knows it. Though we are about to enter a stretch of states that should be ripe for the Vermont Senator’s picking, and despite the loud arguments to the contrary from his most ardent of supporters, Sanders will simply be unable to make up the ground he needs to overtake the former Secretary of State. Frankly, he got creamed one too many times in states with higher percentages of black voters, making his victories less impactful as it pertains to delegates.

Though Sanders is not going to end up nominee of a party he only just joined to enter this process, he should stay in the race a bit longer. He’s made Clinton a better candidate, and has forced the Democratic Party, and voters, to contemplate issues that were once too left, once too taboo, in the past. More and more traditional Democratic voters are asking for real action on issues of climate change, of social justice, or the cost of health care and higher education – and Clinton is being forced to take these questions very seriously. Credit for that belongs to Senator Sanders and his campaign.

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