New Orleans Nevada results are in with Hillary Clinton edging Bernie Sanders by 5 percentage points, but perhaps more tellingly leveraging huge support from African-Americans to put a stake through the heart of his campaign. A coming romp for Clinton in South Carolina could end everything but the shouting. Donald Trump rolled the field in the Republican primary in South Carolina with Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in a cage match for second place. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush suspended his campaign failing to have ever caught traction after a last gasp in Carolina.
An analysis of Bush has some tilting towards Ohio Governor Kasich with a trickle here and there to others, but not enough to threaten Trump. Florida’s rich haul will presumably go to Rubio just as Texas will go to Cruz. Nothing seems to be settling in any way that seems comforting for the Republican establishment, and it looks even worse for the rest of us. While Rubio tries to position himself as the more moderate, establishment candidate now, parsing his positions it is hard to find much substantive difference between him and Cruz on the issues. Perhaps his style is a little less combative, and he delivers the punch with a smile, but the pain is the same on one issue after another.
Even as the Clinton train builds steam and starts to pull away, it’s hard to feel confident in her as a campaigner and sense any increased passion for her candidacy. Increasingly, I find myself secretly rooting for Donald Trump, thinking he might be the easiest candidate for Hillary to beat in the general election. And, if not Trump, give me Cruz, since he has more negatives than Clinton and, if anything, is even stiffer on the campaign trail. I’m very scared that Rubio could beat Clinton. The Republican faithful and true believers might find it off-putting as Cruz labels him the “Republican Obama,” but it’s just that concept that makes me worry that he just might be exactly that, the Republican Obama who could come out of nowhere and beat Clinton to the White House.
Even rooting secretly for Trump, it’s still hard to believe that in the long march through the primaries he won’t still self-destruct, but so far he seems impervious to catastrophes that fell normal candidates. He’s also a question mark for many. His positions have bounced back and forth on all kinds of issues, so it’s possible to hope he’s not as much as a hater as the others whose records are clearer, and imagine people voting for him to send their own protest message to the party and the world.
The hard truth to get around is that as long as the Republicans have multiple candidates in the list, Trump can win with his 30% and let the rest live or die at 20% support. A two horse race like we find in Clinton-Sanders makes it harder for the candidate challenging the status quo in the party. Super-delegates from the ranks of the party electeds and big whoops are numerous and though the majority remain uncommitted, Clinton has a couple of hundred committed and at last count Sanders had less than ten on his side of the ledger.
It’s hard not to get the feeling that this year’s election cycle is going to be scary all the way down the line.