US Presidential Race — Nevada and South Carolina again, childishness, Super Tuesday cometh

The Nevada Republican caucuses went to businessman Donald Trump last Tuesday.  Florida senator Marco Rubio ended 22 points behind in second, Texas senator Ted Cruz 2.5 points under that.  Ohio Governor John Kasich (he had no chance in Nevada and so, wisely spent nothing there) and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson finished in single digits.

To Cruz’s chagrin, 40% of the 40% of born-again or evangelical Christians that cast ballots did so for Trump.  Trump received 45% of the Hispanic/Latino vote which has been questioned by pundits and the media.  The sampling was very small for these closed caucuses – where one must vote as they are registered, Republicans in the Republican caucuses, for example.  And if anyone believes that Latinos would actually give even 35% of their votes to Trump in the general election, they are fooling themselves.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pummeled Vermont senator Bernie Sanders winning by nearly 50 points.  Black voters went out heavy – they were 61% of the overall vote, not the pre-vote estimate of 40% to 50%, and they gave a whopping 87% of their support to Clinton.

Bernie did try to make inroads with the African American community to try and siphon off some voters, and he failed.  No surprise there.  This is very bad news for the socialist as the next contests move further through the south on March 1, Super Tuesday, further into states with large blocs of black voters.

Aside from the contests noted above, there were more nasty words between the candidates.  More so among the Republicans as the top three in the polls, Trump, Rubio and Cruz traded barbs and very personal insults.

What had been happening between Trump and Ted Cruz and Trump and Jeb Bush and Trump and Rick Perry and Trump and Carly Fiorina and Trump and Rand Paul and Trump and Lindsey Graham and Trump and Scott Walker paled in comparison to Trump and Rubio last week, with a little tag team help from Cruz.

Yes I know Cruz and Rubio and Cruz and Trump went at it rough as well, but the real nasty stuff, the very personal stuff, not just one calling the other a liar which continued, was the Trump/Rubio reality show circus.  Jeb Bush told Donald Trump a number of times, “You can’t insult your way to the White House.”  Well, Trump is doing his best to prove that prediction false.

It started with the latest debate last Thursday night.  Now once again, let me say that I am against debate audiences.  Aside from the fact that any noise from the audience cumulatively takes away precious time from the forum, the candidates play to the audience within which supporters clap and shriek and guffaw almost on cue.  Or in Trump’s case, he attacks the audience and makes it part of the mix and the story.  Donald is right by the way; the audiences are made up of lobbyists and donors.  I say no more audiences!  But of course, there will be many more.

Rubio needed to get more aggressive toward The Donald and he did, ridiculing Trump.  Cruz went after Trump as well.  As I watched the theatrics, and yes, much of it was, I couldn’t help thinking that Trump was swatting at flies buzzing around him.  Because even as Trump was finally given some comeuppance, he is still the elephant in the room, the front runner by a lot, the big GOP kahuna.  And contrary to some pundits that claim had Rubio and Cruz been tough on Trump months ago Donald wouldn’t be where he is today, I think it would not have mattered.

Ah yes, memories of kindergarten.  Sheesh!  Was this a debate or a schoolyard taunting match?  “You are!”  “No, you are!”  Marco felt he had no choice but to get down to Donald’s level, giving as good as he gets from Trump, who seems to do nothing more that say how great he is and how everyone else sucks – specific solutions to serious problems be damned.  And Trump’s lack of specificity was on full display during the debate.  But will it matter to his supporters?  I very much doubt it.

John Kasich stayed on point, being substantive and refusing to get into the gutter with the three front runners.  It limited his time as first Trump interrupted Rubio and Cruz, and then those three interrupted each other.  Kasich is just not a candidate of insults and that doesn’t help him much with the angry mob.  Ben Carson, who cares.

I must add that this continued talk of deporting illegal immigrants is terrible.  So much time was spent on who could be tougher with the undocumented, it was very unseemly and even pathetic.  Aside from the fact that the growing Latino population will continue to get turned off by the harsh rhetoric, the Republican Party cannot hope to win nationally ever again should it be perceived, rightly and sadly, as the party of white people only.  Enough already!

Later in the week, Rubio made fun of Trump’s tweets’ misspellings, and his hair and makeup and tanned face, and called Trump a con artist, and as he did in the debate, specifically criticized Trump University, the businessman’s so-called real estate academy.  That “school” by the way, was purportedly designed to be a money making scheme for the New York businessman, no matter how hard Trump has tried to paint it as a terrific place of learning.  It was apparently a bait and switch scam plain and simple, where free seminars led to higher and higher upsells.

Here is a Rubio attack sampling: “Then he (Trump) asked for a full length mirror (backstage at the debate), maybe to make sure his pants weren’t wet.”

Trump made fun of Rubio’s ears, his sweating and his makeup, and called him a little boy and a lowlife.  He even mimicked Rubio drinking water – ridiculing him for taking a drink during his State of the Union response speech in 2013, and he did an impression of Rubio gasping for air, Marco being a choke artist according to Donald.  Trump now calls Rubio, Little Marco.

Here is a Trump attack sample: “It’s disgusting. (Rubio’s sweating.)  We need somebody that doesn’t have whatever it is that he’s got.”

Cruz finally fired someone in his campaign for shenanigans that had gone on, and surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, New Jersey governor and former candidate Chris Christie endorsed Donald Trump giving his campaign an air of “establishment” legitimacy.  You know Christie is hoping to be Trump’s VP pick or perhaps his Attorney General.

The two front runners continued to refuse to release information that could matter in their respective races, Clinton, her Wall Street speeches transcripts, and Trump, his 2014 and previous years’ tax returns.  Both sets of documents will probably show these very flawed candidates have lied yet again.  No one will be shocked, and their supporters will excuse it in some way, as they always do.

*            *            *

March 1, Super Tuesday, is when 14 states and one US territory will participate in the primary/caucuses process, awarding the most delegates in one day this election season – 595 out of the total 2,472 for the Republicans (with 1,237 needed to win), and 1,004 for the Democrats out of a total 4,763 (with 2,383 needed to win).  There are some differences in counts and there may be minor changes in the end.

Within the Super Tuesday states is the “SEC Primary,” called that because participating states Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas are within a college athletic conference known as the SEC (Southeastern Conference).  Others taking part on March 1, are Alaska, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming and American Samoa, most states’ delegates being chosen by voters as is typically done, a few not.  (For more on this, please see this link for the Democrats and this one for the Republicans.)

Democrats and Republicans are holding primaries in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia, and caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota.  In addition, Democrats alone are holding caucuses in American Samoa, and Republicans alone are holding caucuses in Alaska, North Dakota and Wyoming.

Also, on the Democratic side, about 130 or so party hack superdelegates will be designated, although most have already pledged support to Hillary Clinton.

All delegates will be proportionally allocated in some fashion, and it is possible a big win could give all of a state’s delegates to one candidate.  Super Tuesday’s biggest prize is Texas, where 155 Republican and 251 Democratic delegates will be awarded.  A lot of good information about the states’ processes, delegate counts, and even how much money has been raised and spent on behalf of each candidate can be found here for the Democrats, and here for the Republicans.

Clinton has 91 won delegates and 453 estimated pledged superdelegates, Sanders has 65 and 20.  The Republicans’ front runner Trump has 82 delegates and his nearest rival in the count, Cruz, has 17.  Counting campaigns and support groups, Clinton has spent about $111M thus far, Sanders about $82M.  Trump, Rubio, Cruz, Kasich and Carson about $26M, $61M, $62M, $18M and (for someone who should not be running) a whopping $68M respectively.

For those states that have had polling done on their behalf, on the Democratic side, Clinton leads big in all states except for Massachusetts and Vermont (Bernie’s home state). And she has a slight lead in Oklahoma.  In recent Republican polling, Trump leads by over 10 points in every state except for Arkansas and Texas where the latest polls show Cruz leading Trump by 4 and 11 points respectively.

There is more voting on both sides with other states that proportionately appropriate delegates this week, but Super Tuesday will tell a lot.

For the Democrats, I never thought Bernie had a shot even as he was coming razor thin close in Iowa and winning big in New Hampshire. Hillary may be halfway done or past what she needs for the nomination after Super Tuesday.  Sanders will most probably continue running till the end to add to the debate and perhaps play a role at the Democrats’ convention, and/or with the drafting of the party’s platform.

I believe Bernie never thought he could win and just wanted to play a role when he started, but as he saw he caught fire with disgruntled Democrats and young people, he figured what the heck, why not make it a true run?

I keep hearing news people and pundits ask the non-Trump candidates, “Don’t you need to win something and soon?”  Some pundits correctly know that winning states is not necessarily needed.  Because so many states divide the delegates up proportionately, it is possible, although improbable, that Trump will not have enough delegates to win outright by the convention.

Cruz could win all of his home state of Texas’ 155 delegates (see above for poll numbers) and Kasich all of his home state of Ohio’s winner-take-all 66 on March 15.  The latest Ohio polls show Trump ahead of Kasich by a little over the margin of error.  Unfortunately for Florida “native son” Rubio, the senator trails Trump by nearly 20 points on average in the winner-take-all Florida primary also on March 15, 99 delegates in all.

So here is the deal for the Republicans.  Were all three, Rubio, Cruz and Kasich to lose their home states to Trump, it is pretty much over.  It portends that Trump will get the delegates needed to win before the convention.  Should at least Texas and Ohio go to Cruz and Kasich, those wins (and who knows what else in this crazy year) could propel a more even proportional allocation possibly keeping Trump from winning on the first ballot at the convention.

If that brokered convention happens, Trump loses because ABT, “Anyone But Trump” will coalesce around either the number two guy or who the Republicans feel can win in November.  Of course, if that happens, Trump will go even more bananas than he is now.  Third party, who knows?

Enjoy the circus while you can.

About the Author
Shia Altman who hails from Baltimore, MD, now lives in Los Angeles. His Jewish studies, aerospace, and business and marketing background includes a BA from the University of Maryland and an MBA from the University of Baltimore. When not dabbling in Internet Marketing, Shia tutors Bar and Bat Mitzvah, and Judaic and Biblical Studies to both young and old.
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