Over the weekend a series of primary elections were held and on both sides the prospective winners performed worse than expected. On the Democratic side Bernie Sanders picked up three of the four states up for grabs- Kansas, Nebraska, Maine- whereas Clinton only won Louisiana. On the Republican side Trump won Louisiana and Kentucky, Ted Cruz won Maine and Kansas, and Marco Rubio picked up Puerto Rico. However what is distinctly missing from the national conversation is that Sanders has momentum and that Marco Rubio is not going to win the Republican nomination unless there is a brokered convention.
The breakdown of the Democratic race are as follows, but it is worth pointing out that, whilst all races have been called, the specific percentages may change as some precincts have still not reported:
Kansas: Sanders (67.7%), Clinton (32.3%)
Nebraska: Sanders (57.1%), Clinton (42.9%)
Louisiana: Clinton (71.1%), Sanders (23.2%)
Maine: Sanders (64.3%), Clinton (35.5%)
With all these results taken into account, the number of pledged delegates is: Clinton 676, Sanders 476. The weekend’s results illustrate a number of different things but one of the most important is that of the 20 states that have voted in the primary so far, 11 are incredibly conservative and will not vote for the Democratic nominee in a general election.
This is not the fault of the candidates but it does call into question the impartiality of the DNC, which has already been shown to be supportive of Clinton. Conventional wisdom has been that Clinton does well in conservative states, especially in the South, and therefore the idea that states like California and New Jersey, which will definitely support the Democratic nominee in the general election, may not have an influence on the process is ridiculous.
The Sanders campaign gained momentum from the weekend’s results and the Clinton campaign should be worried. As I said the conventional wisdom was that Clinton would do well in more conservative states, especially in those with a large population of ethnic minorities. This is illustrative of the disconnect in the minds of the establishment: Clinton does best in conservative states, Clinton does well with ethnic minorities, and Sanders does well with white people. Many of these conservative states, the ones which Clinton is supposed to do well in, are mostly white. Sanders won in Nebraska and Kansas yet Clinton is still seen as most likely to win in conservative states. Clearly something’s got to give.
In the Republican race Donald Trump was surprised when Ted Cruz picked up two of the four states up for grabs. The accolades were split between the two Republican frontrunners but, although Cruz’s campaign will surely pick up some momentum, I cannot help but think that this does nothing but delay the inevitable. The results were as follows:
Kansas: Cruz (48.2%), Trump (23.3%), Rubio (16.7%), Kasich (10.7%)
Kentucky: Trump (35.9%), Cruz (31.6%), Rubio (16.4%), Kasich (14.4%)
Louisiana: Trump (41.4%), Cruz (37.8%), Rubio (11.2%), Kasich (6.4%)
Maine: Cruz (45.9%), Trump (32.6%), Kasich (12.2%), Rubio (8.0%)
An honourable mention is that Marco Rubio won the GOP’s primary in Puerto Rico by 60 points, which meant that he won all of the territory’s 23 delegates. The total delegate count after these results came in are: Trump 384, Cruz 300, Rubio 151, Kasich 37. Considering how many states are still yet vote I am hopeful that this will not be the final result, but what I hope will be the case and what I think will happen are not in alignment.
The split of the states implies that there is a fight going on within the grassroots of the GOP between Trump and Cruz. Marco Rubio has clearly been castigated as a puppet of the establishment, for good reason, and irrespective of what the news pundits in the press and on TV say, Rubio will not get enough delegates to win the GOP nomination. Trump or Cruz will be the nominee unless something miraculous happens to change the current dynamic.
I have said that I believe that the Cruz campaign will have momentum coming out of these two states but take that with a pinch of salt. Trump is leading in many upcoming states by significant margins and the only state that is remotely close, Ohio, has Kasich vying to win his home state with the latest polls showing Cruz and Rubio very far back.
The thought of a brokered convention is trotted out every single race in order to generate some meaningless gossip about something that will probably not happen but if there was to be a year in which there was one, this would be it. The establishment have to choose very carefully what they are going to do. If they remain behind Rubio, Trump will win the candidacy. If they back Cruz, then they will probably be able to defeat Trump but they would then have to look the American people in the eye and endorse a nominee that they fundamentally disagree with on many issues.That is the drama that should be spoken about rather than this nonsense about brokered conventions and perpetuating the falsehood that Rubio still has a chance.
The results from the weekend were interesting because they continued to upset the apple-cart. Sanders was written off as unrealistic and unelectable but it seems that the Democratic Party’s base have other ideas. It appears that the Democratic base have heard what Sanders has to offer and they want a bit of socialism in their lives. If this is true and Sanders becomes the nominee, it will be a new era odd left-wing politics in America.
Cruz was correctly branded an extremist that couldn’t win the nomination but, in this era of Trump, has come across as sane enough for the establishment to throw their support behind him. But I guess the establishment are adhering to the old political maxim: ‘one first must get behind someone if you are going to stab them in the back’.