At the risk of sounding like a broken record after every election night, Trump is continuing to win but he can be beat if this becomes a two-man race. But that must happen very soon or it will be too late. Trump won Mississippi, Michigan, and Hawaii while Cruz won Idaho. However, in total, Trump only netted 14 more delegates over Ted Cruz. Trump is roughly 100 delegates ahead of Cruz. Here are the key takeaways:
1. There is No Rationale for Rubio’s Candidacy.The Florida Senator came in last in Mississippi and Michigan and got shut out of the delegate threshold. Rubio’s poor showing came despite the fact that he and his allies spent the most money in Michigan of any candidate and their allied super pacs. In the most egregious outcome of the night, Rubio got only 17% in Idaho and missed the delegate threshold but easily blocked Cruz from winning 50% and making Idaho winner-take-all. Cruz came just 4.5% within the 50% mark. This made the difference between Cruz netting 32 delegates over Trump and winning the night and netting just 6 delegates. When coupled with Rubio playing spoiler in Texas and other states only to come up empty himself, Cruz would now be in the lead if not for Rubio playing in states he could not win delegates. The entire rationale for Rubio’s staying in the race was to win Florida. In a perverted irony, Rubio left Florida (because he’s losing) to campaign in Idaho – only to play spoiler
2. Open Primaries:The twin victories in Michigan and Mississippi are good news for Donald Trump, but it continues the pattern of Cruz winning closed primaries and Trump winning those primaries open to non-registered Republicans. Idaho was a closed primary.
3. Trump Stalled But Not Receding:Headed into last night, and based on Saturday’s results and the Michigan debate last Thursday, some thought Trump might be bleeding some support. It’s clear that The Donald kept his substantial coalition in place. However, it’s also clear that Trump is only winning because of a divided field. Trump consistently gets about 37% in open primaries. In closed primaries he gets around 38-35%. In states like Mississippi that are tailored to his message Trump won almost 50%. That is another indication that his original coalition is intact.
4. Cruz Can Easily Win One on One:Meanwhile, it’s clear that almost everyone else would vote against Trump and consolidate behind Cruz in a two-man race. According to the Michigan exit poll, Cruz would have beaten Trump 46%-37%. Cruz barely spent a penny in last night’s contests, even though he is sitting on a large cash reserve. Cruz knew these states were proportional anyway and is saving his funds for when he can go up one-on-one against Trump. That means it is simply indefensible for others to remain in this race. They are single-handedly electing Trump.
Prez ad spending in Michigan from Feb 29-March 6, based on Kantar Media tracking: pic.twitter.com/eBk9jpLD9G
— Mi Campaign Finance (@MichiganCFN) March 8, 2016
5. Michigan Proves Trump’s floor is Essentially His Ceiling:
Michigan reflects the national trend. Trump is polling in the mid to upper 30s in most states. At the same time, the polls show that in a two-man race with Cruz, Trump would only increase his share of the vote to 41% while Cruz would win 54%. This is born out in the Michigan results. According to exist polls, a whopping 50% of Michigan voters believe Trump is dishonest.
6. Kasich is an Embarrassment:
As I noted yesterday, Kasich ceded half of the country in order to park himself in Michigan. He even joked and said if he stays a few days longer, he’ll have to pay taxes to the state. During his last campaign stop in New Hampshire, Kasich admittedthat Michigan was a must-win state. Yet, he came in third place behind Ted Cruz. In other words, Kasich needs to exit the race. By staying in the race to win Ohio, he will also play spoiler in Illinois and either deny Cruz the win or siphon off a lot of delegates in many of the state’s congressional districts. Trump is polling in the 30s in both Ohio and Illinois and can easily be defeated in a two-man race.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.