16 Mar 2016

'Mini Tuesday': Winners and losers

10:05 pm on 16 March 2016

ANALYSIS: Marco Rubio is gone, but Donald Trump still has work to do, while it was Hillary Clinton's day. Phil Smith looks at what 'Mini Tuesday' means for the US Presidential race.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Photo: AFP

Mini Tuesday is the day in the US presidential primaries with the second largest number of delegates up for grabs. For Republicans it's also the day that some states become 'winner-takes-all' and the stakes get higher. The big prizes are Florida and Ohio, and for two Republican contenders those states were their last chance saloon.


Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio Photo: AFP

Marco Rubio: Yet another mainstream candidate bit the dust when Senator Rubio was thrashed by Donald Trump in Florida. His home state was his last best hope, but he's been trailing in the polls there for months so only a miracle (or Michigan variety poor polling) could save him. Sadly for Senator Rubio, a distant second in his home state eliminates him from even vice-presidential consideration.

A day is a long time…: Just hours before the vote Marco Rubio vowed to continue regardless of today's result. He declared "I can't guarantee a win today. … but we are not 20 points behind. I mean, that's absurd. I think we're going to prove that here in the next few hours." He did prove it. He was 19 points behind. He later appeared to blame God for his loss.

John Kasich

John Kasich Photo: AFP

John Kasich: Governor Kasich is a moderate Republican with stronger appeal in states in the coming phase of the primary calendar. But to keep going he had to win the critical swing state Ohio, where he's Governor. The polls were tight but he kept his narrow lead to take all the delegates. So he'll keep fighting and become the party's new favourite candidate (their third so far), with all the cash and help that entails. He's now the only option remaining for the party bosses, who want anyone but Trump or Cruz.

It's a Three Way: If John Kasich had lost Ohio he would likely have quit, leaving behind a showdown between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, neither of whom appeals to the moderate Republican voter. Staying in the race splits the vote three ways and makes a brokered convention much more likely. Still, it could be to Mr Trump's advantage.

Delegate Count: Donald Trump: 666; Ted Cruz: 444; Marco Rubio 167; John Kasich 136, (approx). If Marco Rubio pulls out entirely his delegates will be released and become free agents. As delegates are usually chosen by the state party they presumably won't be supporting Donald Trump.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump Photo: AFP

Donald Trump: You might have heard of this guy. He cleaned up today as expected, but because John Kasich took all of Ohio's 66 delegates Mr Trump will have to do even better from now on if he wants a clear majority of delegates. Otherwise he only wins a plurality and a very messy convention.


It's the Delegates, Stupid: Headlines focus on winning states (even by a whisker) but the Democratic Party contests are all proportional and it's gaining delegates that counts.

Narrowly Winning is Losing: Senator Sanders started today well behind Hillary Clinton on delegates. Narrowly winning states doesn't help him at all, he needs big wins; but big wins are more Hillary Clinton territory and she won big again today.

Mini Tuesday is Hillary's: Ms Clinton picked up a slew of delegates from her big wins in Florida (140 to 62), North Carolina (64 to 27) and Ohio (88 to 39) including super delegates. Narrower margins in the other states split the delegates between them. The former Secretary moves further ahead every contest. Their total delegate counts are now approximately Hillary Clinton: 1600; Bernie Sanders 815, including superdelegates.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders Photo: AFP

What is in it for Bernie: If Bernie Sanders didn't have a lot of money and a shiny barrow to push he would drop out of this Sisyphean campaign now. But this isn't about winning for him anymore, it's about making use of the best megaphone he's ever likely to have and at the same time pulling Hillary Clinton's own platform to the left.

The Side Notes

Jerry Springer: The Republican debates have been compared to The Jerry Springer Show. It seems Mr Springer agrees. He told Politico "When I first started watching the Republican debates, I said that, you know, if they're going to do my show, they should start paying me."

Polling Recovers: Today's results are roughly in line with poll predictions. This will be a relief after the massive failure of polling in Michigan a week ago. Michigan was portrayed in headlines as a huge upset for Senator Sanders after polls predicted a 20-point loss. It must have felt great on the night but it was a failure of polling instead. Pollsters use screening questions to determine who is likely to turn up and vote. Screening in Michigan included the usually reliable 'Did you vote in the primary last time?' What no-one remembered was last time Hillary Clinton ran unopposed in Michigan and those who voted were far more likely to be Clinton supporters.

Supporters of Marco Rubio watch results come in.

Supporters of Marco Rubio watch results come in. Photo: AFP

Third Columnists?: Politico is reporting that Republicans are preparing to run a third party campaign against their own candidate. Winning outright might be beyond them if they did so, but they may hope to split the electoral college three ways so that the President has to be chosen by the House of Representatives, which they control. This is playing with fire. It's happened before (in surprisingly similar circumstance) and split the 1824 Democratic Republican Party so badly the Democratic Party was formed.

Yes M'lord Trump: In another distressing revelation about Mr Trump, his long-time butler has said The Donald likes his steak so well done it will "rock on the plate." Presumably he uses eating as a work-out.

It's My Party: House Speaker Paul Ryan who will be the chairperson of the Republican Party convention is keeping his options open, refusing to rule out being the eventual nominee despite not actually being a candidate.

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