Ted_Cruz_by_Gage_Skidmore_9Cruz rising! At least, it seems that way. A lot of attention was paid to Kansas and his massive victory there, but it was really Maine that caught my interest. Jokes about the Canadian border aside, that’s really outside his jurisdiction. It’s important to note, however, that both Kansas and Maine are closed primaries, and closed primaries play to Cruz’s strengths. That could also explain his good showing in Minnesota. Which leaves the open question as to whether or not he can compete anywhere else in a primary system, which he will need to do in order to win the nomination outright. It’s… looking unlikely. It would seem to need both Rubio and Kasich to drop out, and while it’s possible that Rubio will after 3/15, Kasich has no real incentive to and seems relatively accepting of a Trump nomination if it’s not going to be him. So how does he Cruz get there?

The goal of #NeverTrump has shifted from trying to outright beat Trump and force a convention. That’s… far from ideal. Trump’s ceiling appears to be real – for now, at least – and seems to stand a decent chance of preventing him from getting to 1237.

Which brings us to the possible importance of Rubio and Kasich. Kasich in particular could be strong in the remaining states. He has no path to winning the nomination outright, but seems best positioned deny Trump the delegates that he needs until or unless Cruz can demonstrate a national viability that runs contrary to his entire campaign strategy.

Rubio is hurting pretty badly right now, and looks likely to lose in Florida a week from now (assuming he’s still in the race). He’s being hounded by a dour narrative and it appears his support is being eaten off at both ends by Cruz and Kasich. If he can win Florida, though, he’s back in the game to perform the role assigned to Kasich in the previous paragraph. It seems likely that even in the most optimistic of scenarios that Trump will have a plurality of delegates. However, if Trump can’t expand his share of the vote and #NeverTrump can point to a low plurality, and he starts losing, his winning at the convention seems far from assured. If Rubio or Kasich can have a good late run, they may be the beneficiary of recency bias and could actually get the nomination at a convention even with a lower delegate count. If we get to one.

On the docket today is Michigan, Mississippi, Idaho, and Hawaii. This is a pretty Trump-friendly state of affairs. Unless Kasich can perform a miracle, most polls have his opposition in Michigan pretty divided and while the delegates will be awarded proportionally, “winning states” feeds the narrative in a significant way. The opposition in Mississippi is less divided, but Mississippi has always been one of Trump’s best states. In a different universe, Rubio would be looking good in Idaho but he’s never polled well there and that’s an opportunity for Cruz. Rubio’s only opportunity is Hawaii, for which the returns will be too late to feed any narrative.


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3 Responses to States of the Primary: Hangover Tuesday

  1. Peter says:

    I would have thought Mississippi to be Cruz territory.

    • Michael Drew says:

      It seems to me we might just have been getting Cruz territory wrong. It kind of looks like it’s as much where intellectual conservatives congregate as where evangelicals do.

    • trumwill says:

      Cruz has been underperforming in the deep south in part because we forget that just because someone calls themselves an Evangelical doesn’t mean that they attend church regularly, thus Trump is getting Evangelicals while Cruz is getting churchgoers.

      Also, Mississippi is Mississippi. It’s remained one of his top states.

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