First of all, I’m sorry:
But enough about PPFA. How do these candidates feel about Nevada and their situations less than one week out from Super Tuesday? Let’s go in reverse order of their Nevada finish.
5. John Kasich–3.6%: With 18 in the U.S. House of Representatives, and 5-plus in the Ohio Governor’s Mansion, John Kasich’s 23 years of political experience is more than the rest of the field combined. He helped balance the federal budget, is a successful and popular governor of a big purple state, and has talked about coming together as one nation.
Nevada awarded this resume with a last place finish.
While I thought he would finish fourth, his three to four percent of the vote last night is no surprise. He basically skipped South Carolina and Nevada as he focused on Super Tuesday states in an effort to set up Ohio. Punting these states reveals something about the Kasich Campaign: he’s not trying to win the nomination. At least, not in the traditional manner. At some point, Kasich transitioned into either hoping to earn enough delegates to force a convention, or, much more likely, Kasich is now running for the vice-presidency. If he gets into triple-delegate totals after Ohio, he could be very valuable to Marco Rubio at the convention. It’s also worth noting that a Rubio-Kasich ticket makes a lot of sense, including electorally (Florida and Ohio!), geographically (south and north), demographically (Latino and white), politically (conservative and nominally moderate), and experience-wise (young senator, experienced executive).
4. Ben Carson–4.8%: At least John Kasich has some semblance of a windy path to the convention and the objective of the vice-presidency. What is Dr. Carson doing? Still reciting the Constitution? Please drop out.
3. Ted Cruz–21.4%: He’s still the third most likely nominee, but he’s closer to Kasich as the fourth most likely nominee than he is to the two ahead of him. He wants to be the last man standing with Trump, but Rubio has now beat him in the last two states. Cruz is going to be dangerous for the “SEC Primary” on Super Tuesday; thanks to Texas and other evangelical states, he’ll earn a lot of delegates. Still, after that it’ll be increasingly difficult to see his path. It’s been said that he or Rubio should step aside, or even gang up, in order to stop Trump before it’s too late, but they generally hate each other, wouldn’t stand for being on the bottom of a ticket, and both still think they’re the best candidate to take Trump down.
2. Marco Rubio–23.9%: This was all part of his 3-5-2-2 strategy! Okay, maybe not.
He now has three moral victories, but sooner or later he’ll need an actual one. The best news for Rubio, I think, is that he continues to win late deciders. There are still a lot of late deciders out there (we’ve only had 4 of 56 contests), and Trump has for some time looked much stronger in the early states polls, whereas things balance out a bit in later states. (Make no mistake, he still leads in nearly every state, just not by as much.) The question, of course, is will Trump convert his February dominance into stronger polling numbers everywhere else? His national lead hasn’t grown at all in a couple months, and that includes polls conducted after each of the first three states, so that ceiling many people are counting on might be real, but we won’t know until later states vote.
1. Donald Trump–45.9%: *Shuts eyes tight* “This isn’t happening this isn’t happening this isn’t happening this isn’t happening this isn’t happening…” *Opens eyes slowly*
Shoot, that didn’t work.
With the February contests behind us, I’ll have a column in the next few days about Trump’s chances. Stay tuned.
Here are the states with their pledged, unpledged, and total delegates. (Some states will donate their unpledged delegates to the pledged total. Are you listening, Democrats??)
|March 1, 2016||Alabama||47 / 3 / 50|
|March 1, 2016||Alaska||25 / 3 / 28|
|March 1, 2016||Arkansas||37 / 3 / 40|
|March 1, 2016||Colorado||34 / 3 / 37|
|March 1, 2016||Georgia||73 / 3 / 76|
|March 1, 2016||Massachusetts||39 / 3 / 42|
|March 1, 2016||Minnesota||35 / 3 / 38|
|March 1, 2016||North Dakota||25 / 3 / 28|
|March 1, 2016||Oklahoma||40 / 3 / 43|
|March 1, 2016||Tennessee||55 / 3 / 58|
|March 1, 2016||Texas||152 / 3 / 155|
|March 1, 2016||Vermont||16 / 0 / 16|
|March 1, 2016||Virginia||46 / 3 / 49|
|March 1, 2016||Wyoming||26 / 3 / 29|
Those 14 states combine for over 650 pledged delegates, more than half the required amount needed for the nomination. This day is nicknamed the SEC, or Southeastern Conference, primary because about 450 of those delegates, or nearly 70 percent, come from states that could be construed as southern. The mother lode of the day is Texas; its 155 delegates are second only to California’s 172 as the primary’s biggest prize. Can Cruz win it to help slow down Trump? I sure hope so! A lot more on Super Tuesday is coming between now and the first, so now you have two things to stay tuned for.