Friends, Countrymen, Political Animals: Super Tuesday

Raffi Pounardjian NYURaffi Pounardjian, MBA Class of 2016

The Republicans

Since the last issue of the Oppy, Donald Trump won a decisive victory in South Carolina by 10 points, winning all of the state’s 50 delegates. His support came from across the ideological spectrum and across income and education levels. Marco Rubio came in second with 22.5% of the vote and essentially tied the third place finisher, Ted Cruz, who received 22.4%. Quite possibly the single most distressing piece of bad news of the night was for Ted Cruz who lost with the voters who were suppose to be the core of his support−Evangelicals−33%-27%. Donald Trump also won the Nevada caucus with 46% of the vote. Rubio again came in second with 24% of the vote and Ted Cruz came in third with 21%. Nevada was the first state with a significant Latino population and perhaps most surprisingly, Donald Trump won the Latino vote with 45% of their support−as much as the support of his two Latino rivals Rubio and Cruz who only won 27% and 18% of the vote respectively.

Candidate  – Delegates

  • Donald Trump  – 81
  • Ted Cruz  – 17
  • Marco Rubio – 17
  • John Kasich – 6
  • Ben Carson – 4
  • Jeb Bush – 4

(Source: Real Clear Politics)

The race now turns towards Super Tuesday when 13 states go to the polls. Since many of the states are conservative states in the south, this year’s Super Tuesday is being called the “SEC Primary.” While this should have been good news for Ted Cruz, he lags Donald Trump and Marco Rubio in nearly every state with recent polling. The only exceptions are his home state of Texas where he leads Trump by a mere 7 points according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls and Oklahoma where he is losing to Trump 29.5% to 22.5% and is only slightly ahead of Marco Rubio who has 21.0%. Donald Trump leads in every state except Texas and if the polls hold, the delegate math will make it much more difficult to stop him from winning the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination.

A bright spot for those who oppose Trump comes on March 15th when two key winner-take-all states−Ohio and Florida−vote. There is a chance that Kasich can prevent Trump from winning in Ohio and Rubio can stop him from winning in Florida. However, the latest poll in Ohio (conducted from 2/16 through 2/20) had Kasich trailing Trump 31%-26% and no state on the horizon appears to have the potential to give him a boost similar to the one he received after his second place finish in New Hampshire. Trump has led Florida since August and currently leads Marco Rubio 39%-19%. Barring major changes in Trump’s poll numbers (a scenario that many have predicted but has not happened since he entered the race) or all but one candidate dropping out, it looks increasingly likely that Trump will be the nominee.

The Democrats

Hillary Clinton has recovered somewhat from her large defeat in New Hampshire by winning the Nevada Caucus 53%- 47%, catching her up with Bernie Sanders in elected delegates. While both hold 51 of such delegates, Hillary Clinton holds a huge lead overall through the superdelegates who have pledged their support for her. However, these delegates always have the option of breaking their allegiance as many of them did for Barack Obama when he began winning more primaries and caucuses.

A very key and distressing piece of news for Hillary Clinton came out of the Nevada exit polls, which showed that she lost the Latino vote to Bernie Sanders 53%-45%. Because of Sanders’ strength with whites and overwhelming support from young people, Hillary Clinton had been relying on African-American and Latino votes to carry her to the nomination. Nevada showed that one of those two voting blocs may not be as firmly in her corner as once thought.

Candidate – Delegates  – Super Delegates – Total

  • Hillary Clinton – 51 – 453 – 504
  • Bernie Sanders – 51 – 20 – 71

(Source: Real Clear Politics)

Nevertheless, she has a 24 point lead in South Carolina and a 26 point lead over Sanders in the March 1st Texas primary. She leads Sanders in every other primary held on March 1st with significant polling with the exception of Massachusetts where they are statistically tied and Sanders’ home state of Vermont. She also leads in Florida by 39 points, although the most recent poll was conducted from 1/15 through 1/18. Her lead in Ohio is more significant where she leads Sanders 55%-40% in the most recent poll conducted from 2/16 through 2/20. Sander’s path to the nomination seems difficult given the fact that he is so far behind in the polling in the most delegate-rich states and because he can receive no benefit from additional candidates dropping out of the race. The only bright spots appear to be the fact that the Democrats do not have winner-take-all states and Hillary Clinton’s numbers are more flexible and prone to decline than they have been for Trump. Nationally, he has closed a major deficit early in the race to just a 5 point lead for Clinton in the most recent Real Clear Politics average. The race is not over, but his fortunes need to change relatively soon.

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