The people of Nevada and South Carolina have spoken and Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have won the Democratic and Republican caucuses respectively. Rather than analyse the specifics of the night’s events, I’ll use this piece to go through what I believe will be the long term result of these contests. Normally I use these articles to argue in favour of my own political positions, however I shall not be doing that this time. Instead I’ll say what I think will happen, rather than what I want; this is not going to be fun for me.
On the Republican side the result was depressingly predictable. Donald Trump won the South Carolina contest with 32.5% of the vote, Marco Rubio came in second with 22.5% of the vote, Cruz came in third with 22.3%, and Jeb Bush came in fourth with 7.8%. Due to the fact that this primary was a ‘winner-take-all’ race, Trump picked up all 50 of the available delegates, leaving the other candidates far behind in the race to the 1,237 in order to get the nomination.
Soon after the results became clear, former Governor of Florida, and former GOP frontrunner, Jeb Bush announced that he was going to suspend his campaign. This is significant as the GOP establishment are desperately trying to put all their support behind one candidate in order to prevent Ted Cruz or Donald Trump from winning the nomination. The presumptive establishment choice is Marco Rubio, and I’m sure that donors and GOP insiders will start leaning on John Kasich to also drop out of the race.
Here comes the depressing part. It is now a three-horse race between Rubio, Cruz, and Trump, but there is one clear frontrunner that I do not believe will be able to be caught. Here me now and, unfortunately, quote me later, Donald Trump will be the Republican Party’s nominee for President of the United States.
The race on the Democratic side is much more interesting. Hillary Clinton won the Nevada caucus by around 4% which is a decent margin of victory. Political pundits have framed the result in a context that I do not like, which is that a Clinton win in Nevada changes nothing but a Sanders win would have been devastating. While I agree that a Sanders win would have been devastating, I would dispute the assertion that a Clinton win changes nothing.
Clinton has said that she has a ‘firewall’ in the South and West which will secure her the nomination and, although there are a ton of cracks in it, Nevada chose Clinton. At this point the momentum that had been with the Sanders campaign after Iowa and New Hampshire will now be with the Clinton campaign and, despite the massive enthusiasm of Sanders supporters, she will probably win in South Carolina next week.
I want Sanders to win the Democratic nomination and eventually to win the Presidency but I have to confess that I thought that he might sneak a win in Nevada, and the fact that he didn’t makes it much harder to defeat Clinton in states that will vote in Super Tuesday. If the narrative had been that Sanders tied in Iowa, crushed Clinton in New Hampshire, and won in Nevada, South Carolina wouldn’t be as significant as Sanders would have had a lot of media coverage from all those results. With an indisputable win for Clinton in Nevada, Clinton now has the momentum going into South Carolina, and the win that she will almost certainly get there will benefit her on Super Tuesday.
Although I don’t want it to be the case I believe that Clinton has made it more likely that she will be the Democratic nominee and, if that is the case, she will become the President because as much as those on the far-right hate Clinton, Bernie Sanders supporters, independent voters and some establishment Republicans hate Donald Trump more. As a result we have to welcome Donald Trump’s continued success as it will secure the Democrats the White House in 2016, and possibly allow them to win back many Senate and House seats at the same time.
Polling tells us that Clinton would lose in a general election match up against Marco Rubio and may well lose to Ted Cruz. It is imperative therefore that, as much as we want Sanders to win, we have to make the case that the corporate shill that may well become the Democratic nominee is a better choice than an actual fascist.