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Trump's Super Tuesday

The front-runner added to his lead, while Ted Cruz pulled ahead of a faltering Marco Rubio.

Philip Sears / Reuters

They call it Super Tuesday, but for everyone other than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, March 1 wasn’t a great night. The Democratic and Republican frontrunners racked up wins Tuesday, along with delegates, as each consolidated a lead.

Could it have been a better night for either of them? Absolutely. As expected, Clinton lost Vermont to favorite son Bernie Sanders, but she also lost in Oklahoma, Colorado, and Minnesota. Trump was the big winner among the Republicans, but he lost states he was expected to win and saw his margin of victory slip below what polls had predicted in others.

Even as the election results were rolling in, a debate raged over just how good a night it was for Trump. It’s undeniable—despite the protestations of anti-Trump pundits—that winning more states is better than winning fewer. As the clock struck midnight on the east coast, Trump could claim victories in Georgia, Alabama, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Virginia, and Arkansas. He even squeezed out a win in Vermont, where John Kasich came in a close second. Proportional-allocation rules for delegates, however, mean that although Trump will win the most delegates, his rivals will also take quite a few. According to New York Times projections, Trump was likely to take more than 200 delegates, trailed by Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. That would give Trump more than 400 delegates, but he’s still a long way short of the 1,237 needed to lock up the nomination. The problem for the other candidates, and for the many Republicans who find Trump unacceptable, is that none of his rivals is close to him.

It was a pretty good night for Cruz, who won his home state of Texas and scored a victory in the neighboring state of Oklahoma, too. Or at least it was a good night, scored against the expectations Tuesday morning. It wasn’t that long ago, however, that Cruz’s advocates were touting the many contests in Southern states—the “SEC Primary”—as his firewall, where he would clean up in states heavy on evangelical voters. Judged against those expectations, it was a disappointing evening for the Cruz team. Looking ahead, he faces a stretch of states that aren’t likely to be as friendly to him. Still, Cruz used his remarks in suburban Houston to paint himself as the only hope for stopping Trump.

“God bless the Lone Star State. And God bless the great state of Oklahoma,” Cruz said. “So long as the field remains divided, Donald Trump’s path to the nomination remains more likely, and that would be a disaster for Republicans, for conservatives, and for the nation. After tonight, we have seen that our campaign is the only campaign that has beaten, that can beat, and that will beat Donald Trump.”

Without naming Rubio or John Kasich directly, Cruz called on both of them to leave the race. “The candidates who have not yet won a state, who have not yet won significant delegates, I ask you to prayerfully considered coming together, united,” he said.

As those comments suggested, things were bleaker for Rubio, who had a roller-coaster evening. Early in the night, analysis—or was it wishful thinking?—suggested Rubio might be able to win in Virginia, a state with a high concentration of well-educated, wealthier, establishment-friendly Republicans in Northern Virginia. In the end, though, Rubio couldn’t pull out the win there. The Florida senator finally notched a win in Minnesota late Tuesday—his first victory of the campaign. But in several states, Rubio was in danger of failing to cross the 20-percent threshold the party imposes to win any of the statewide delegates allocated on a proportional basis.

Yet when Rubio came out to speak, early in the night, he once again struck the same triumphant pose he has employed time and again, as his campaign finished second or third in contest after contest. “When I am president of the United States, we will not just save the American dream, we will expand it to more people than ever!” he said.

The most telling moment in his speech, however, came a few moments later. "Five days ago, we began to explain to the American people that Donald Trump is a con artist," Rubio said, alluding to the onslaught of opposition research, insults, and barnyard jokes he has directed at the GOP frontrunner, starting with Thursday’s debate. Why did that take so long, though? It may have been too late to save the Republican Party from Trump, and if it wasn’t, it may have been too late to save Rubio. His case as the Trump alternative depends not on beating Trump outright, but on depriving him of an outright victory with delegates ahead of the Republican convention, then wresting the nomination from him there. Rubio’s moment of truth comes on March 15, when Florida votes. If he can’t win the Sunshine State, his campaign is likely over.

Trump leads in polls there so far, and he taunted Rubio by holding his election-night celebration at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach. Backed by a meek Chris Christie, Trump boasted, joked, meandered, argued, and cajoled, taking questions from reporters and taking shots at Rubio. While Trump could have won more states, and he could have won by larger margins, the victories for both Rubio and Cruz mean neither man seems likely to leave the race. So far, division among Republicans has served Trump well.

Sanders called it an early night, capitalizing on his victory in Vermont. He gave a speech that almost sounded like a requiem for his impressive run. “This campaign is not just about electing a president; it is about transforming America,” he said. “It is about making our great country the nation that we know it has the potential to be. It is about dealing with some unpleasant truths that exist in America today and having he guts to confront those truths.”

Yet Sanders aides promised to fight on to the convention, and later results showed that he had won several states. In addition to Oklahoma, Sanders won in Colorado and in Minnesota—a state he’d campaigned in heavily, as he did in the Sooner State. But he lost to Clinton in Massachusetts, another state where he’d concentrated his energies.

Clinton, meanwhile, didn’t quite pull off the clean sweep of non-Vermont states that she’d hoped for, but she scored wins across the South, including in Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Texas. She is projected to take roughly double Sanders’s delegate total. Clinton has turned her attentions to the general election and to Donald Trump.

“[Our] work is not to make America great again. America never stopped being great. We have to make America whole,” Clinton said. “I believe what we need in America today is more love and kindness.” She delivered some fiery lines as well. "If you cheat your employees, exploit consumers, pollute our environment, or rip off the taxpayers we are going to hold you accountable.”

The story of the night remains the Republican side, though, and Trump’s strong showing. As the dust clears Wednesday, there will be renewed calls for both John Kasich and Ben Carson to leave the race. Kasich insists he has no plans to go anywhere until at least the March 15 elections, when he promises to win Ohio and hopes Rubio loses Florida. Pressure on Kasich and Carson to bow out is nothing new. Rubio, however, will have to work hard to prove that he’s still a viable candidate after a not-so-super Tuesday.

David Graham

Updates

This live blog has concluded

In an interview with CNN, Ted Cruz calls tonight's results "a winnowing process," but even strong prompting from Wolf Blitzer can't get him to name Marco Rubio in particular—or, for that matter, Kasich or Carson. He remained laser-focused on Trump. "I am the only candidate who has beaten Donald three times," he said. "The path to beating him is for us to unify.”

In an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN, Marco Rubio claimed that he wasn't worried about Donald Trump's overwhelming success tonight. Why? Because, Rubio said, the Republican establishment simply won't be throwing its weight behind a candidate as unworthy as Trump. But actually, Ronald Brownstein recently wrote, it might be time for conservatives to recognize Trump as the successful, complex candidate he is: “If Trump can beat Cruz [on Super Tuesday] in heavily blue-collar and evangelical states on one side, and top Kasich and Rubio in white collar, less culturally conservative states on the other, it will grow increasingly daunting for any candidate to coalesce a coalition large enough to stop the front-runner.”

CNN has now called the Minnesota caucuses for Bernie Sanders, giving him his fourth win of the night. Clinton has won the other seven, mostly larger states.

Rubio's win in Minnesota is a rare bright spot for him, but he's still facing a rough road in the overall delegate hunt. The Florida senator is still below the 20-percent threshold in three states: Alabama with 18 percent of the vote, Massachusetts with 18 percent, and Texas with 17 percent. He's also dangerously close to it in Tennessee with 21 percent and Vermont with 20 percent.

Clinton's win in Massachusetts could be predictive, ​The Wall Street Journal reported earlier today, citing how "closely watched" the state's race has been. "The outcome in the solidly Democratic state could foreshadow the direction of a party that has been divided between Mr. Sanders’s idealism and Mrs. Clinton’s pragmatism.” One state this victory could foreshadow if Sanders stays in the race till April? Maryland, which has a similar number of Democratic delegates and is similarly true blue.

Marco Rubio is projected to win Minnesota—his first win in the presidential primary race thus far. The Florida senator sent out a press release to reporters earlier in the evening dubbing the campaign the “underdogs” in the race and seemingly putting the onus on Florida to keep him in the race. “Florida, I know you’re ready. The pundits say we’re underdogs, I’ll accept that. We’ve all been underdogs. This is a community of underdogs. This is a state of underdogs. This is a country of underdogs. But we will win,” Rubio said in the statement.

As Elaine noted, Minnesota could save Rubio from a shutout, and the North Star State's demographics might be just the mix he needed. It's highly educated, and the majority of its voters live in the urban and suburban area surrounding Minneapolis, where Rubio is leading Cruz by a decent margin. The Florida senator also picked up a boatload of state-level endorsements.

"Tonight we basically fought Donald Trump to a draw,” said Marco Rubio, in an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN. Tapper asks him if he's in denial.

I just checked the transcript of Marco Rubio's speech to supporters in Miami tonight, and the senator, who has not won a state tonight, said "When I am president..." 10 times. Rubio's on CNN right now talking to Jake Tapper, saying that he's "prepared all along for an extended haul." "We have more support than ever before," he said.

How much is Trump's rise convulsing the GOP? Here's South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham last week at the Washington Press Club Foundation dinner:

And here's Graham tonight after Trump's dominant performance:

Bernie Sanders has won his third state of the night, as MSNBC declares him the winner of the caucuses in Colorado. He won Oklahoma and his home state of Vermont earlier in the evening, and he is currently leading in Minnesota among the early returns from the caucuses there.

Television news tonight has been filled with pillars of the Republican establishment who are positively aghast at the looming nomination of Donald Trump. On MSNBC, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay told Chris Matthews that the party could simply deny Trump the nomination at the convention if delegates broke away from him, even if he was the clear choice of a majority of voters in the primaries. On CBS, Senator Lindsey Graham said Republicans were "about to lose to the most dishonest politician in America, Hillary Clinton." He said several times and without equivocation that Republicans would simply lose if Trump won the nomination, because, he said, "dishonest beats crazy."

Marco Rubio might just score his first victory of the campaign in Minnesota, where he is currently leading Ted Cruz 37.3 to 28 percent, with 79 percent of poll results in.

In rattling off a list of Trump's ​boo​-inducing policies, Cruz alleged that Trump "funded the Gang of Eight," referring to the team of senators—including rival Marco Rubio—who collaborated on a failed 2013 immigration reform bill. By contrast, Cruz "led the successful opposition" to their "amnesty plan." The history of Cruz's opposition to the bill is muddled; FactCheck.org has a nice rundown of why.

But what was noticeably missing from Cruz's speech tonight was an argument once central to proving his immigration bona fides: that Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, an immigration hard-liner, has defended Cruz's opposition to the bill. Cruz can't invoke Sessions anymore because his fellow senator recently announced he's endorsing Trump. In a statement released by the Trump campaign Sunday, Sessions said that “Trump’s trade and immigration plans will revitalize our shrinking middle class, keeping jobs and wealth and income inside the United States of America. Trump understands that a nation must always place the interests of its own people first.”

Tonight, Donald Trump railed against Marco Rubio in his speech, pinning him as a loser who hasn’t won any states yet. And Cruz went after Trump, reiterating that his campaign is the only one that’s beaten the Republican front-runner. The candidates that haven’t received a mention? John Kasich and Ben Carson. According to Todd Starnes, Carson has reiterated that he’s not dropping out of the race, which is in line with what the neurosurgeon’s advisor said earlier today—that Carson won’t drop out until a candidate reaches the delegate count for the nomination.

"Five years ago, I promised the people of Texas that I would fight with every breath in my body to stop Obamacare," Cruz says. According to the EPA, the average person takes between 17,280 and 23,040 breaths a day.  Let's say it takes President Cruz his first 100 days in office to begin to follow through on that—that's between 1.7 million and 2.3 million breaths!

Trump and Cruz both want to unify the GOP, but for two very different reasons. "I am a unifier," Trump said in his speech earlier. "I would love to see the Republican party and everybody get together." Cruz called for a unified party, too. "That is the only way to beat Donald Trump," he said.

“American shouldn't have a president whose words would make you feel embarrassed if you repeated them," Cruz says in a knock against Trump, after quoting JFK and FDR.

Cruz asks the Republicans who have not won states or significant delegates to "prayerfully consider" coming together—i.e. dropping out of the race and supporting him. The trouble with this request is that as Trump has pointed out, Cruz is the most disliked Republican in the field among party leaders and the other candidates.

Speaking in his home state of Texas after winning its primary by a sizable margin, Senator Ted Cruz declares that “so long as the field remains divided, Donald Trump’s path to the nomination remains more likely. And that would be a disaster for Republicans, conservatives, and the nation.” He calls his campaign the only one that "can beat, has beat, and will beat Donald Trump.”

Many candidates are finding reason to cheer tonight. Trump and Clinton are racking up the wins. Ted Cruz pulled out two victors, as did Bernie Sanders. But I want to take a moment to salute a candidate who’s often been overlooked this year: former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore.

For months, pundits wondered how to tell whether Gilmore was actually running. He was squeezed out of most debates, and hardly traveled or campaigned. He was beloved by reporters for his eagerness to answer any question; he told my colleague Nora Kelly that Hillary Clinton is just as much of a socialist as Bernie Sanders. And then, just like that, he dropped out of the race.

But tonight, Jim Gilmore finally received the recognition he so craved. In Chelsea, Massachusetts, 366 voters cast their ballots for Gilmore, according to the Boston Globe’s tally, which would give him 47 percent of the vote—and, so far as I know, his first recorded win in any jurisdiction.

The key to winning, it seems, was dropping out entirely. Maybe Gilmore knew what he was doing all along.

Update: Although the official returns clearly show Gilmore in the lead, Jeff Blehar of Decision Desk HQ suggests that they’re likely one row off—which would make Chelsea’s results more in line with those of surrounding jurisdictions. If so, Gilmore has once again been left out in the cold.

Asked whether or not he trusts the Republican National Committee, Trump plays nice, mostly. “I like the RNC. I don't know that I've been treated fairly or not. I can't tell you that.” But he’s confident that, after tonight’s showing, the party would be crazy to turn him down. "If I'm going to win all of those states with tremendous numbers … I think it's awfully hard to say that's not the person we want to lead the party."

Trump hit Rubio for not winning any states tonight, but Rubio is also dangerously close to falling below the 20 percent viability thresholds in a number of races. He's at 17 percent in Alabama, 18 percent in Massachusetts, 19 percent in Texas, and 19 percent in Vermont. Even in Georgia and Tennessee, he's hovering just slightly above the threshold, at 22 and 20 percent respectively. There are a lot of votes still to be counted tonight, but it's going to be a nailbiter for the Rubio campaign as the race pivots into a delegate slugfest.

Trump on his relations with Congress, where Republican leaders have distanced themselves from his rhetoric: "Paul Ryan, I don't know him, but I'm going to get along great with him. And if I don't, he's going to have to pay a big price, okay?"

Donald Trump is asked about David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan who recently endorsed the candidate. As Yoni reported on Sunday, back in 2000, Trump roundly condemned Duke. But in an interview with Jake Tapper this past Sunday, Trump dodged a question about whether he would repudiate support from Duke and white-supremacist groups. "I mean, I don’t know what group you’re talking about. You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about," he said in the interview. Tonight, he gave a somewhat more straightforward answer. "I said I disavow," he said. "How many times do I have to disavow?"

For the last week, an energized Marco Rubio has tormented Donald Trump—sending a steady stream of playground taunts in his direction. His supporters cheered his new combativeness, delighted that someone was finally sticking it to The Donald.

But looking at the map tonight, it’s hard to see how it helped him. He hasn’t won any more states than Jeb Bush, who also tangled with Trump, to no apparent electoral advantage. Ted Cruz, meanwhile, has maintained a laser-like focus on his core voters—fighting to retain church-going southern evangelicals, by pointing out all the ways in which Trump’s views differ from their own. That effort appears to have paid off for Cruz in Oklahoma and Texas, even without his mocking the size of Trump’s hands, or any other part of his anatomy.

But Cruz lost the other Southern states up for grabs tonight, which he’d long counted on winning. He hasn’t demonstrated the ability to expand beyond his base of support. Even with the lion’s share of Texas’s huge trove of delegates, he trails far behind Trump—and doesn’t appear to have a shot of taking Florida, Ohio, or the other winner-take-all contests coming up on the calendar. That leaves him in the same spot as Rubio—with little prospect of actually winning, just hoping to deny Trump an outright majority of the delegates.

With Chris Christie standing behind him, Donald Trump delivered a victory speech from Palm Beach, Florida, calling the night "an amazing evening." Trump quickly launched into an attack on Hillary Clinton, a reminder that the frontrunners on both sides of the aisle are increasingly looking toward the general election and anticipating an intense fight. "She wants to make America whole again, and I'm trying to figure out what is that all about," Trump said reacting to Clinton's speech earlier in the night.

Trump pit his promises against Clinton's, setting up a battle of the slogans. "Make America Great Again is gonna be much better than making America whole again," he promised. Trump congratulated Ted Cruz on winning Texas, but didn't offer much praise for Marco Rubio. "He had a tough night," Trump said of his Republican rival. "He is a lightweight as I've said many times before.”

"I don't know that she's going to be allowed to run," Trump says of Hillary Clinton, continuing his strategy of questioning the very legitimacy of his opponents, beginning with President Obama. Does he really think she'll be sitting in jail come the fall?

Donald Trump declares: “We have expanded the Republican Party.” Is that true? As yet, I’d say it’s unclear. He seems to have brought in new voters. But how many existing voters will flee the GOP if he’s the nominee?

Trump is asked about threats from conservatives like Senator Ben Sasse about the possibility of supporting a third-party candidate instead of Trump. "They can always do that, and then they'll just lose everything," he replies.

Listening to Donald Trump’s promise to campaign hard in Florida, I’m struck by this thought: Ted Cruz won his home state tonight––and Marco Rubio could still lose his. That reality ought to factor into the intra-Republican debate about whether Senator Cruz or Senator Rubio is the better Trump-stopper.

A day ago, Chris Christie refused to take any "off-topic" questions at a press conference where reporters wanted to know exactly why, after months of bashing Donald Trump, Christie had suddenly endorsed him for president. Now, Christie is in Palm Beach, Florida, introducing Trump's speech to supporters. "He has shown himself to be tough and strong and bold. He's shown himself to be a fighter," Christie said. "A leader who speaks plainly to the American people. He has listened to the American people. The American people are listening to him. And he's bringing the country together. That, ladies and gentlemen, is not a campaign. It's a movement."

Jake Tapper just called Ted Cruz's win in Oklahoma "huge," arguing that Cruz now has enough ammunition to argue convincingly that he, not Rubio, is the viable alternative to Trump. But Aaron Blake at The Washington Post says Cruz's success in Oklahoma may actually indicate weakness: It's possible he's just a regional pick. While Cruz has heavily courted the evangelical Christian vote, his efforts haven't amounted to much in the South, which has favored Trump. "Thus far, evangelicals in other parts of the country just aren't giving him the support he needs," Blake writes.

Chris Christie speaking from Palm Beach: "Tonight, Donald Trump is the clear winner on Super Tuesday, but the win is important for our country. Tonight Donald Trump has won Georgia and Massachusetts, Alabama and Virginia, and he's also won the great state of Tennessee. Tonight is the beginning of Donald Trump bringing the Republican party together for a big victory this November." And tonight is the beginning of him bringing the nation together, too, Christie adds.

If you're surprised that Bernie has taken my home state of Oklahoma, don't be. In the last twenty years the state has changed from blue to red. (As recently as 2008, the state senate was split evenly.) If you've resisted that trend and are still a Democrat in Oklahoma, you're likely a diehard liberal. I once described to a Californian that being a liberal in Oklahoma is like a secret handshake, what being a dedicated conservative must feel like in California. Oklahoma Bernie supporters even created their own brand of salsa, Feel the Bern.

We're still waiting for results from Minnesota, Alaska, and most of Arkansas, but it's worth taking a step back and looking at just how disappointing the results are so far for Marco Rubio, who has become the GOP establishment's choice to take on Donald Trump. He's lost the entire South to Trump as well as Texas and Oklahoma to Cruz. And it looks like he'll pick up more third-place finishes than second. He fared the best in Virginia, where he finished a few points behind Trump. But that was due almost entirely to his dominance in the Northern Virginia precincts just outside Washington D.C., where as Yoni noted, the Republican establishment literally lives. Put another way: Rubio won the Beltway, and only the Beltway. And that will be a powerful argument that Cruz can make for why he is the more viable candidate to take on Trump in the weeks ahead.

Fox is reporting that Florida Governor Rick Scott will endorse Donald Trump tonight—a report that his spokeswoman quickly shot down. If such an endorsement does materialize, though, it’d be pretty amazing. First, it’d be amazing if a two-term Republican governor were to back Trump for president. But it’s also striking that Trump would want Scott’s backing. Just a few years ago, Scott had plummeted to a stunningly low 26 percent approval rating. But then Scott rebounded and won reelection, and he has since compared himself to Trump, praising him in an op-ed for "capturing the frustration of many Americans after seven years of President Obama’s very intentional government takeover of the U.S. economy.” Both men share a history in business—and controversial business records, too.

On the Democratic front, 65 percent of Latino voters backed Hillary Clinton in Texas in comparison to Bernie Sanders’s 34 percent. Texas has one of the “largest Hispanic statewide eligible voter shares” in the country, according to the Pew Research Center.  The exit polls in the state tonight are far more clear than they were following the Nevada Democratic caucuses. Then, the polls were a point of contention between the two candidates after they showed the Vermont senator with a lead among Latinos. Sanders has struggled to gain traction with minority voters, and tonight’s results reflect that.

Vermont isn't among the highest-profile Republican races tonight, but Trump and Kasich are in a tight duel for the victory there nonetheless. With 43 percent of the vote in, the New York billionaire leads the Ohio governor 33 percent to 30 percent. Trailing in third place, once again, is Marco Rubio. With 19.3 percent of the vote, he's currently slated to fall below the 20 percent viability threshold in the state, so he’d claim none of its 16 delegates.

After winning his home state of Vermont earlier in the evening, Bernie Sanders has now won Oklahoma. It might not seem like a natural fit for the self-described Democratic socialist candidate, but the Sanders campaign had been hoping he would pull out a victory in the state. “Oklahoma is a place where there is a tremendous amount of outsider, anti-establishment sentiment in the electorate,” Sanders's top strategist Tad Devine told USA Today, explaining the campaign's rationale. Expect Team Sanders to point to the victory in Oklahoma as evidence of broad appeal.

One question coming into tonight was who Latino voters would back in the Republican race. In the Nevada Republican caucuses, Donald Trump had a commanding lead, leaving Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio trailing behind. In Texas, though, it looks as though Cruz has come out ahead. According to CNN’s exit polls, 31 percent of Latinos backed Cruz, followed by 28 percent for Trump and 27 percent for Rubio. Latinos made up 10 percent of the state’s GOP primary voters.

Rubio's tough night is underscored by how few people will see him: He began his Election Night speech while Hillary Clinton was still speaking, and after showing him for a few minutes, all three cable news channels cut away before he was done.

Right now, Marco Rubio is running at around 19 percent statewide in Texas. If he fails to break 20 percent, he won’t get any of the state’s 44 at-large delegates; if he does, he might grab a few from Trump and Cruz. As Anderson Cooper just said on CNN, "He’s not only running against Trump and Cruz. He’s running against math."

The bulk of the Republican winner-take-all contests are still on the horizon, and they’ll keep this thing nominally competitive for some time at least. There are 391 winner-take-all delegates left, including those in Florida, Ohio, and Arizona. These contests represent a third of all remaining delegates. For Rubio, Florida still represents a long-shot chance to close the gap on March 15. It is, as my colleague Nora notes, the location of several campaign speeches.

However, the Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, and Mississippi primaries between now and then might dilute that long shot even more.

A burst of good news for Cruz tonight. Not only has he won Texas, but he's taken Oklahoma as well. Up until just minutes ago, the race in Oklahoma was too close to call.

Ted Cruz really needed a win in Texas, and it looks like he got it with several networks calling the state for the Lone Star State senator. Earlier in the day, Cruz candidly told reporters in Houston that "any candidate who cannot win his home state has real problems." If the senator had lost Texas, it would have been hard for Cruz's campaign to argue that he had a viable path forward to win the GOP nomination. Now, Cruz can point to his Texas win as evidence that he deserves to stay in the race.

Speaking as a Californian, and with no offense intended toward folks in sparsely populated Alaska and Nevada, I’d love to see future election cycles that incorporated more West Coast voters and their sensibilities earlier in the primary process. Texas has a culture all its own, and I’m glad it votes on Super Tuesday. But if I had my druthers, California or Colorado would move up its primary and do more to shape races on both sides of the partisan divide.

Both Fox and NBC are calling Texas for Cruz. It's a must-win victory for the senator as his campaign noted over the past few days. But since the state allocates delegates proportionally, Rubio's third-place performance may actually be crucial here. He's currently sitting at 19.5 percent of the vote with 33 percent of precincts reporting. If he doesn't break the 20 percent threshold, he doesn't get any delegates from the state—and Cruz and Trump get even more.

As expected, Texas is called for Hillary Clinton as soon as the polls closed at 9 p.m. Eastern

Clinton is speaking tonight from Florida—Miami, specifically—which isn't voting until March 15. Her choice of location could be interpreted as a signal of her confidence in Tuesday's results, that she's already moving on to the next big contests. Her Republican counterpart, Donald Trump, is similarly in the Sunshine State, celebrating at his Mar-a-Lago property in Palm Beach.

Hillary Clinton declares to cheering supporters: “What a Super Tuesday!” She has won five states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia. This is Clinton country dating back to the 1990s, when Bill Clinton rose from the Arkansas governor’s mansion to the presidency. “This country belongs to all of us, not just those at the top,” Clinton says. “America prospers when we all prosper. America is strong when we’re all strong.” Taking a shot at Donald Trump, she declares that the work before us is not “to make America great again,” because “America never stopped being great.” The crowd chants, “USA, USA, USA.”

Clinton victorious, from Florida: "I congratulate Senator Sanders for his strong showing and campaigning." She thanks her supporters, surrogates, and online donors—"most" of whom, she notes, gave "less than $100." It's an obvious nod to Sanders' small-dollar donor base.

Donald Trump is now projected to win Virginia. John Kasich raked in more than 66,000 votes in Virginia—if they’d gone to Rubio, they would’ve given him the state. With two Republican establishment figures in the mix, it’s been particularly difficult for support to coalesce behind one candidate—one reason for Rubio’s defeat. Meanwhile, Kasich is looking to upcoming races in the Midwest to keep his campaign afloat. Tonight’s results may increase the pressure on Kasich to exit the race.

Georgia has already been called for Trump, who’s piled up 45 percent of the vote with 12 percent of the precincts reporting. But more could develop tonight: If he gets more the 50 percent of the vote statewide, he automatically gets all of the state's 76 delegates. It's similar to how the votes fell in South Carolina, where Trump won every delegate by leading in every congressional district. But this time, it could be easier; Georgia delegate rules would award every delegate to Trump, even at the congressional district level, if he gets a majority across the state.

Clinton has to be breathing a not-entirely-unexpected sigh of relief that she has won her adopted home state of Arkansas, where her husband served as governor for two terms. At a campaign stop in Pine Bluff last week, she told voters that “Arkansas runs deep in me.” She said at the time that she was “so grateful and so proud to have Arkansas connections, and I will do whatever I can as president to be a good partner to this state.”

The votes are being counted, but in a race this closely contested, it’s likely to be the delegate count that ultimately matters.

The crew at the New York Times’ Upshot blog—Amanda Cox, Josh Katz, and Kevin Quealy—has built a real-time estimator of the total hauls for each candidate that bounces back and forth as the results come in. At the moment, it shows Trump hovering around 290 for the night, Cruz at around 145, Rubio at 95, Kasich at 25, and Carson at 15. (By the time you visit the site, those numbers will have changed again.) There’s still room for some substantial shifts. But those results would put Trump about a third of the way toward the 1,237 he’ll need to secured the Republican nomination.

Needless to say, any victories for Ted Cruz beyond Texas tonight would be big for him, given that many had been close to writing off his campaign given Rubio's strong finish in South Carolina. He now has a shot at Arkansas and Oklahoma, according to the early returns and projections.

Exit polls are showing Donald Trump with a commanding lead in some Southern states, which Ted Cruz was also banking on for its swath of evangelical voters. In Alabama, 45 percent of evangelical voters back Trump, with Cruz trailing behind at 19 percent, according to exit polls. But in Oklahoma, Cruz takes the lead at 37 percent. How this plays out tonight could sway the race. As my colleague Ronald Brownstein has noted, Trump’s broad appeal could “grow increasingly daunting for any candidate to coalesce a coalition large enough to stop the front-runner.”

Alex Wong / Getty       

One name you’re not seeing much on the network big boards is Ben Carson’s. He has won only a handle of delegates to date, and his Super Tuesday pickings appear slim: He hasn’t pulled more than 6 percent of the vote in any state currently reporting returns. Accordingly, he’s not getting a lot of airtime. (Fellow long-shot John Kasich, on the other hand, was name-checked earlier by anchors about a possible stronger-than-expected showing in Massachusetts, and he had an early bump in Vermont.)

But the retired neurosurgeon has talked a strong game, and aides say he’s “galvanized about staying in.” No word yet on if he’ll return to Florida for a breather, a habit of his after losses.

Stewart F. House / Getty       

Exit polls in Oklahoma show Cruz with 32 percent of the vote, followed by Rubio and Trump tied with 27 percent. If you're hoping GOP voters will defeat Trump once they unite behind a single candidate, this isn't a good sign for consolidation any time soon. Cruz pinned his hopes on winning his home state of Texas, where polls haven’t closed yet. If he pulls off a victory there as well as one in Oklahoma, he could make a strong case to keep going in hopes of becoming the eventual anti-Trump candidate.

Justin Sullivan / Getty      

Coming into Super Tuesday, Hillary Clinton was expected to ride a wave of support among black voters who helped her secure a victory in the South Carolina Democratic primary. That appears to be the case tonight. In Virginia, 82 percent of African American voters backed Clinton in comparison with Bernie Sanders’s 18 percent, according to exit polls. In Georgia, Clinton won 83 percent. The former secretary of state has been projected the winner of both states. And in Tennessee, where Clinton has also been projected the winner, she secured 82 percent support among black voter compared with Sanders’s 12 percent.

Ron Jenkins / Getty

ABC News reports Hillary Clinton has overwhelmingly won American Samoa, the U.S. territory in the South Pacific where 11 delegates are at stake for the Democrats. (Republicans will compete for its nine delegates at a later contest, on March 22.) Clinton won 73 percent to Bernie Sanders’s 27 percent. Earlier today, Clinton called into the territory’s sole caucus site to ask voters for their support. Clinton won there in 2008, pulling 57 percent to Barack Obama’s 42 percent. Because of its territory status, American Samoa won’t participate in the general, but registered Democrats and Republicans can vote in the nominating contests.

As the polls close in four states at 8 p.m., MSNBC calls Massachusetts for Donald Trump, says it’s “too early to call” between Clinton and Sanders

MSNBC calls Alabama and Tennessee for Trump and Clinton.

J Pat Carter / Getty

The dust hasn’t yet settled on the results of Super Tuesday, but Bernie Sanders seems ready to call it a night. Not long after media outlets declared a victory for Sanders in his home state of Vermont, the Democratic presidential candidate gave a speech proclaiming that he plans to fight on in the presidential primary race, even if he faces long odds. Sanders reminded voters that, at the end of the night, many states will not yet have picked winners in the Democratic primary, promising that his campaign will “take our fight for economic justice, for social justice, for environmental sanity, for a world of peace, to every one of those states.”

Sanders’s speech was timed strategically, allowing the senator to revel in his Vermont victory before results from other states where he likely faces defeat trickle in. “You know we want to win in every part of the country, that goes without saying,” Sanders said. “But it does say something and means so much to me that the people who know me best … have voted so strongly to put us in the White House.”

Of course, winning isn’t everything. “What I have said,” the Vermont senator yelled out, “is that this campaign is not just about electing a president, it is about making a political revolution.” Sanders stressed that his political revolution is about unity, warning that we must “not allow the Donald Trumps of the world to divide us.” Reminding his followers what’s at stake, Sanders hit on familiar themes, promising to fight against the billionaire class, and tackle economic inequality. His promises were met with enthusiastic applause. For now, Sanders will keep on fighting.

According to ABC’s early exit polls results, about four in 10 GOP primary voters in Georgia, Virginia, and Texas support deporting undocumented immigrants versus offering a route to legal status. Republican presidential candidates have sparred over the issue of immigration on the debate stage but have come short of mentioning what they would do to fix it. As ABC notes, these results may be a good sign for Marco Rubio in Virginia. Rubio has been particularly vulnerable on the issue since waffling on his support of immigration reform in 2013. Donald Trump’s position on immigration has fueled his surge. In addition to building a wall, he’s also called for the deportation of undocumented immigrants.

Virginia exit polls underscore that voters who view health care as the most important issue are breaking strongly toward Clinton. Is Sanders’s plan connecting at all in the states that need additional health-care reform the most?

The five remaining Republican candidates have been emphatic in their disdain for Washington insiders. But how do Washington insiders feel about them?

The GOP in the District of Columbia won’t meet until March 12. But no matter. Most of the city’s Republican elite lives across the Potomac in northern Virginia, anyway. A decade ago, during the Bush administration, The New Republic proclaimed that the suburban mansions of McLean had displaced the salons of Georgetown as the “new home of America’s ruling class.”

Exit polls tonight show Ted Cruz drawing an anemic 13 percent support in the D.C. suburbs, and Trump just 18 percent. They trail John Kasich, who piles up an impressive 24 percent. And at the top of the heap is the favored candidate of the conservative establishment, Marco Rubio, polling an impressive 40 percent.

The problem for Rubio is the same one he faces across the map: not enough white-collar professionals to lock up the race. The same exit poll shows him a few points behind Trump statewide. In western and central Virginia, where Trump amasses 44 percent of the vote, Kasich barely registers at 4 percent.

Results like these help explain one of Washington’s great riddles: Why didn’t the GOP’s leadership see this coming? Why didn’t it do more to stop Trump? The answer, it seems, is that if the nation looked like their neighborhoods, Rubio and Kasich would be battling it out, with Trump a distant afterthought. In McLean, everything looked just the way they expected. But the rest of America doesn’t look like McLean.

Spencer Platt / Getty

In a story published this morning, my colleague Clare reported on Sanders’s substantial fundraising operation, writing how the “campaign has worked hard to translate voter enthusiasm and anger into donations, and Sanders has seized on opportune moments to make appeals.” Tonight, the campaign saw such an opportune moment when the networks called Vermont for the senator. In a fundraising email sent just minutes after the polls closed and the state’s race was called,  Sanders asked voters for a small donation, $2.70, writing how the campaign has snagged its “first victory of the night.” The margin “should be impressive as well,” which means “a lot of delegates” for the campaign. “I think we are going to do quite well tonight.”

Tom Pennington / Getty

In former presidential candidate news: Six New Jersey newspapers have published identical editorials calling for Chris Christie to resign as governor. They criticized Christie’s recent endorsement of Donald Trump, a rival he spent months trash-talking before dropping out of the race last month after a poor showing in New Hampshire. The editorial boards don’t mince words: “What an embarrassment. What an utter disgrace,” they wrote. “We’re fed up with Gov. Chris Christie’s arrogance.”

Greetings from Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s golf estate in Palm Beach, Florida, where he is scheduled to address the media at 9 p.m. Reporters are crammed into a small, ornate, gilt-bedecked ballroom, and the sun has set on the palm trees and manicured grounds outside. Here’s a picture:

CNN’s exit poll has Trump at 40 percent in Georgia, followed by Cruz at 24 percent and Rubio at 23 percent. That looks like a resounding victory, but Georgia’s delegates are awarded proportionally. If both Cruz and Rubio creep above the 20 percent threshold when votes come in, both candidates could cut into Trump’s delegate haul from the state.

Don’t expect any kind of concession from Bernie Sanders tonight no matter how well Clinton does. Appearing on CNN, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver says the Vermont senator is “going all the way to the convention.” Campaigns routinely say that, of course, but it probably means at least that Sanders will fight on past tonight.

Virginia is too close to call between Trump and Rubio, according to MSNBC. Meanwhile, in Vermont, MSNBC says the race is “too early to call,” but it says Trump is battling John Kasich there. A Vermont victory for Kasich would be a surprise, as he was not expected to win any Super Tuesday states.

As the clock strikes 7 p.m., CNN projects that Clinton is the winner of Georgia and Virginia, and that Sanders takes his home state of Vermont.

While Republican primary voters may be ready to embrace an outsider candidate, Democratic primary voters appear to be looking for just the opposite. That’s one of the takeaways from an ABC News analysis of exit poll results from the Democratic primary in Super Tuesday states. “Democratic primary voters overwhelmingly want the next president to be someone with political experience rather than someone from outside the political establishment,” ABC reports. That trend will likely help Hillary Clinton win votes. Another trend that could help Clinton, who has positioned herself as the president’s political heir, while potentially dealing a blow to her rival Bernie Sanders: “With the exception of Vermont, more voters across today’s primaries want to see a continuation of Obama’s policies (four in 10 to seven in 10), than would like a more liberal agenda implemented.”

The New York Times came out with a useful map this week showing when voting ends in Super Tuesday states. The first polls to close—at 7 p.m. ET—are in Vermont, Virginia, and Georgia. We can probably expect the networks to call these races well before other states’ voting ends. The last state to close up shop today will be Alaska, whose GOP caucus-going will end at midnight East Coast time. FiveThirtyEight doesn’t anticipate a blowout for any one candidate in Alaska, though, so it advises East Coasters to go to bed rather than wait for those results.

ABC News is out with an analysis of early exit poll results from the Republican primary race in Super Tuesday states. The results so far indicate that plenty of voters are dissatisfied with the political status quo and looking for an outsider candidate, a trend that stands to benefit Donald Trump, a contender who has appealed to voters by railing against the political establishment and promising he’s not a typical politician. Excluding Texas and Vermont, “at least half of voters in preliminary exit poll results across the Super Tuesday states want the next president to be from outside the political establishment,” ABC reports. Frustration with Washington looks like a theme of the night as well. “Many GOP primary voters also are angry with the government in Washington, DC.,” the analysis concludes, “ranging from a third in Massachusetts to half in Texas, and nearly all of them are at least dissatisfied.”

In some states, including Virginia and Georgia, candidates who've already dropped out of the race are still included on ballots today. In Virginia, candidates who've exited the race have to contact the state's elections department and formally withdraw in order for their names to be removed​, Washingtonian reports. (Martin O'Malley, for example, didn't do that, and thus voters can still cast their ballots for him.) In Georgia, according to a report from Macon’s ​The Telegraph​, the secretary of state “did not authorize changes in the ballot, which is printed weeks in advance,” so there many extra candidates listed. For voters who've diligently kept track of the once-bloated primary, these extra names probably aren't a big deal. But they almost certainly will cause confusion for some voters.

And at least in Georgia, polling workers aren't permitted to tell voters which candidates have dropped out. Instead, one county supervisor says they can double-check who's in the running online or by calling the secretary of state's office directly. That's troublesome for voters without ready access to technology or the patience to delay their vote while they find out more. "I hate it because if they vote for any of the candidates who have withdrawn, it's just a wasted vote," the official told the ​Telegraph​.

Ben Carson’s campaign doesn’t want you to forget that he’s still running for president.

The Republican presidential candidate wants to convene a meeting of the candidates out of concern over a “lack of civility” in the GOP primary race, his campaign announced on Tuesday. Carson’s show of concern is in keeping with his denunciation of “hateful rhetoric” on both sides of the aisle last year. But the move also reads as a last-ditch effort to gin up publicity for a candidate whose campaign chairman recently told the Washington Examiner: “We clearly don’t know. We don’t have a well defined path to victory.”  

Carson’s chiding of the Republican field comes amid a flare-up of insult-trading among the candidates ahead of Super Tuesday. “This race has taken a turn for the worse, to the point of embarrassment on the world stage,” Carson said in a statement released by his campaign. He warned that “a house divided cannot stand,” and called for a show of GOP unity. According to the campaign, Carson started “reaching out to each candidate personally by phone” on Tuesday in an attempt to arrange the rendezvous, which he hopes will take place ahead of the Republican primary debate set for Thursday. No word yet on whether the meeting, if it happens, will take place in a storage closet.

Mary Katherine Ham says on CNN that Donald Trump is the story today: “We’re talking about the things he might not win.” For that reason, Republicans opposed to the frontrunner are coming to terms with the possibility that he will be their nominee––and some are rallying around the hashtag #neverTrump, a phenomenon Megan McArdle delved into in a fascinating column yesterday. In it, she summarizes the scores of emails she received from these Republicans. "These people are not quietly concerned about Trump. They are appalled, repulsed, afraid and dismayed that their party could have let this happen,” she explained. "They wrote in the strongest possible language, and many were adamant that they would not stay home on Election Day, but in fact would vote for Hillary Clinton in the general and perhaps leave the Republican Party for good.”

Acknowledging that her correspondents aren’t anything like a scientific sample, she added, "I got everything from college students to Midwestern farmers to military intelligence officers to former officials in Republican administrations, one of whom said he would “tattoo #NeverTrump” on a rather delicate part of his anatomy if it would keep Donald J. Trump from becoming the nominee. They were from all segments of the party—urban professionals, yes, but also stalwart evangelicals, neoconservatives, libertarians, Tea Partiers, the whole patchwork of ideological groups of which the Republican coalition is made."

I wonder how big their faction is.

Back in January, Marco Rubio’s team touted what National Review charitably termed an “an unconventional path to winning the GOP primary contest.” It involved finishing third in Iowa, second in New Hampshire, and first in South Carolina. The Florida senator was trying to convince backers and funders to stick with him, even if he got shellacked in the Hawkeye State. His “3-2-1” strategy promised to make a virtue of losing.

He executed the first step flawlessly, getting drubbed in Iowa by Cruz and Trump. In New Hampshire, instead of just losing to one rival, he over-performed—losing to four. And in South Carolina, where he was supposed to stop losing? Donald Trump almost doubled his share of the vote, and he finished second. By the time the results were tallied in Nevada, he’d gone from 3-2-1 to 3-5-2-2.

Now Rubio is looking at a bleak electoral landscape. Politico reports that his campaign spent Tuesday morning trying to lower expectations among his backers—sketching one scenario in which he walks away from the day’s voting with fewer than 100 delegates. It quotes one source saying the campaign emphasized “their convention strategy was not contingent on winning any states.” The new pitch is that Rubio can be an effective spoiler, keeping Trump from securing the requisite 1,237 delegates before the end of April, and forcing the race into a convention floor fight.

Trump promises supporters that “we will have so much winning if I get elected, that you may get bored with winning.” If they do, apparently, they can turn to Rubio for a change of pace.

In many states that are voting today, the presidential candidates are not the only ones on the ballot. Members of the House and Senate are facing primary elections, and while these don’t get nearly as much attention as the White House race, just ask former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor about the perils of overlooking them.

Two primaries to watch are those involving Senator Richard Shelby in Alabama and Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, who just recently succeeded Speaker Paul Ryan as chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee. Shelby, 81, is the Republican chairman of the Banking Committee who was first elected to the Senate as a Democrat in 1986. (He switched to the GOP in 1994.) He has spent heavily to fend off four primary challengers, and the Washington Post reported that the national GOP campaign committee quietly sent staffers to Alabama to help him across the finish line.

A reliable but not fanatical conservative serving his 10th House term, Brady is also facing multiple challengers from the right in his Texas district. The risk for him is that if he does not win an outright majority of the vote, he’ll be forced into a runoff election in May. Two years ago, conservatives in Texas used the runoff rules to knock off 91-year-old Ralph Hall, who was then the oldest member of the House.

Although health care polls behind the economy and foreign policy among the issues for Democratic voters, Clinton beats the rest of the field in voter trust on health care issues.

Why is that important? Super Tuesday states aren’t very healthy. Five of the Super Tuesday states are among the 10 lowest-ranking states on America’s Health Rankings. Aside from Arkansas, they are also states that did not expand Medicaid to all low-income adults as per the original intent of the Affordable Care Act. South Carolina is also on both of these lists, and Clinton won it with ease.

It may seem curious that people left behind so thoroughly by one health-care reform might reject another shot at it, but the CNN poll underscores that low-income people in these states might not have the risk tolerance in the primaries to accept a thinly explained and experimental approach such as Sanders’s Medicare-for-all.

Pundits have proven to be dismal predictors of this race, and polling's limits are well-known. But Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, an ex-Google data whiz who contributes to The New York Times, found an intriguing new prognostication tool: Google's search results.

As Justin Wolfers noted for the Times, Google search trends can now be tracked with incredible granularity compared to previous elections. It's now possible to see which candidate names are looked up most often in a specific state while the polls are open. But even more interestingly, there's a solid correlation between those trends and the actual outcomes of the races. Check out the graph in the tweet below.

Uncanny, right? But others have thrown cold water on their predictive power, especially in upcoming states.

The Republican political strategist Patrick Ruffini pointed out on Twitter that voters in the early states might be more enthusiastic than elsewhere, and that there were significant divergences between the search trends and the actual results in Nevada's caucuses last month. With a large and diverse glut of states voting on Super Tuesday, tonight should be a good test of search trends' forecasting utility.

Purported results of early exit poll results are starting to be shared on social media.

There are a variety of reasons to take these numbers with a healthy dose of skepticism—which is why we’re not sharing them here. For starters, the official numbers haven’t been released by members of the consortium of news organizations that gathers them—and the results being shared are so varied, that some are certainly false. But even the real numbers would be of limited utility right now.

They’re only being gathered in nine of the states that are voting today, so they won’t reveal the full national picture. They rely on interviewers, who approach voters as they exit the polls. Many voters decline to take the time to fill out detailed surveys, and that skews the data. The results will eventually be adjusted to reflect the actual composition of the electorate, as votes are tallied, but at this stage, they’re just raw numbers. They’re compiled in a series of waves; evening voters may break in a different direction. Moreover, in some Super Tuesday states, early voting and absentee ballots are popular. The exit polls there are supplemented with telephone surveys, then blended based on expected turnout. But that introduces even more untested assumptions into the mix.

As actual numbers get released by the networks, pay attention to the demographic questions, and to those about voter sentiment—and try to ignore the horserace figures until the votes are actually counted. Exit polls are quite useful for understanding what’s already happened, but they’re a lousy tool for predicting who will finish ahead in a tight race.

Ted Cruz and his family went to a polling location Houston, Texas to cast their ballot.

As David noted, Cruz has a lot riding on today’s results, particularly in his home state of Texas.

Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico governor running to be the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee, floats an idea for candidate-less voters out there: They should take a look at his campaign.

Given Johnson's ideological leanings, he could be speaking to a large swath of voters disappointed in what the two major parties are offering this cycle. His social liberalism—he's pro-gay marriage, pro-abortion rights (up till a later point in a woman's pregnancy), and enthusiastically pro-marijuana legalization—could appeal to disaffected Democrats, who can't stomach supporting another Clinton or a big-government, Democratic socialist-backed revolution. Yet his fiscal conservatism—he's known for railing against the national debt and the current tax system—could play to Republican voters who feel they've been left with no options. One group that could potentially see Johnson as an option: former Rand Paul supporters who appreciated the senator's libertarian leanings.

Earlier this year, Johnson told me he has “no delusions of grandeur” about his 2016 bid, his second run at the presidency. But he wants to make sure his voice is heard at the most competitive level available.

Earlier, I wrote about where Marco Rubio has the best chances to pull out a win on Tuesday. How about Bernie Sanders?

The Vermonter has a much better shot at notching at least one win on Tuesday. One reason is that demonym: Sanders’s own home state is voting, and according to FiveThirtyEight, he has a greater than 99 percent chance of winning there. Unfortunately for Sanders, there are only 26 delegates to be split among the candidates.

But Sanders has also been putting in some quality time in several other states that vote today, especially Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Minnesota. Those are very different states—one New England, one Midwestern, one at the edge of the Great Plains—with disparate political landscapes. What they have in common is a heavy share of white voters in the Democratic electorate, which has been Sanders’s strength so far. Massachusetts, of course, is a special test. It’s notoriously liberal, and it’s also the home of Elizabeth Warren, the progressive hero whose decision not to run for president opened up a path for Sanders. As one Bay State Democrat told The Wall Street Journal, “If Bernie can’t win in Massachusetts, where does he win?”

On the eve of Super Tuesday, the New Hampshire Union Leader released an editorial apologizing for its endorsement of Chris Christie:

Watching Christie kiss the Donald’s ring this weekend — and make excuses for the man Christie himself had said was unfit for the presidency — demonstrated how wrong we were. Rather than standing up to the bully, Christie bent his knee. In doing so, he rejected the very principles of his campaign that attracted our support.

The publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader, Joseph W. McQuaid, who has criticized Donald Trump in the past, penned the editorial.

Trump won the New Hampshire primary in February, and last week received the endorsement of the New Jersey governor in what was a pivotal moment for the race. Christie, who dropped out after a sixth-place finish in the state’s primary, has been one of the real-estate mogul’s biggest “establishment” gets.

It’s powerful conventional wisdom that Donald Trump is set for a great day today, and any day that’s good for Trump is probably bad for Marco Rubio. What are the potential bright spots for the Florida senator—and leading anti-Trump contender—on Super Tuesday?

One possibility is Minnesota. Nate Cohn tabs it as Rubio’s best shot for a win, pointing to Rubio’s tight finish in Iowa, a demographically similar state, as essential. Rubio also has strong institutional support in Minnesota (though where doesn’t he?). But the case partly depends on low turnout, which hasn’t been the trend so far in this primary. In any event, Rubio’s stopping off in Minneapolis today.

Another hope for Rubio isn’t a state: It’s a commonwealth. As National Journal’s Adam Wollner reports, Virginia is full of the wealthier, better-educated voters who have formed the core of Rubio’s support throughout the race. But much of the rest of the state is more rural and working class—in other words, just the folks who tend to break for Trump.

Either of these are tenuous hopes, though. Rubio isn’t favored to win a single state. It could be a long night for the Floridian. At least he’s well accustomed to coming in behind the leader by now.

Conventional wisdom has it that Hillary Clinton is the Democrats’ best bet in the general election. She’s experienced, establishment, and most importantly, not a socialist. And yet, according to the latest CNN/ORC poll, things are not at all so clear cut. In fact, it’s Sanders who has the edge. Although both Clinton and Sanders each beat Trump in a general-election matchup, Clinton does so by 8 points; Sanders by a whopping 17 points. What’s more, Sanders handily beats Ted Cruz by 12 points and Marco Rubio by 8. But Clinton? She loses to both Cruz and Rubio—albeit by razor-thin margins.

It brings to mind Christopher Cook’s pragmatic case for the revolutionary in these pages, in which he argues that Clinton’s exaltation of bipartisan-compromise politics gives away too much before negotiations even begin—and that Sanders’s sincerity and progressive platform at least strive for greatness. The question is: Will the upstart senator from Vermont lose his shot the nomination before he ever has a chance to win the general?

James Lawler Duggan / Reuters

Today in strange bedfellows, Louis Farrakhan has kind words for Donald Trump. The longtime Nation of Islam leader’s reasons are plainly anti-Semitic. Trump “is the only member who has stood in front of Jewish community, and said I don’t want your money. Any time a man can say to those who control the politics of America, ‘I don’t want your money,’ that means you can’t control me,” Farrakhan said, according to an Anti-Defamation League transcript.

Farrakhan is apparently referring to Trump’s painful appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition, where he said he supported Israel but didn’t want attendees’ money, and made several anti-Semitic jokes. (Trump’s stance on Israel, where it is discernible, appears tougher than other Republicans’.) But Farrakhan stopped short of endorsing the Republican. “Not that I’m for Mr. Trump, but I like what I’m looking at.” Sure, Trump has spoken about banning Muslims from the country, and has flirted with former KKK leader David Duke, but Farrakhan’s bigotry toward Jews is strong enough to make him overlook those statements. It reminds me of nothing so much as when Esquire found a set of white supremacists who, for various reasons, were surprisingly O.K. with Barack Obama.

Paul Ryan seemed to give Super Tuesday voters an implicit warning this morning: Don't vote for Trump. Ryan, no fan of the Republican frontrunner, must be watching his the House Republican caucus with dismay in the last week, as four of his colleagues publicly endorsed Trump. And at a House leadership press briefing Tuesday, Ryan condemned Trump’s recent waffling on the endorsement of former KKK leader David Duke and other white supremacist groups, and reminded reporters that “there is a lot at stake” as voters hit the polls today.

Ryan said that while he tries to stay out of the “day-to-day ups and downs of the primary,” he'll speak up when something on the trail “runs counter” to the ideals of the Republican party and the country. Today was such a day.

“I want to be very clear about something: If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry,” Ryan said. “This party does not prey on people's prejudices. We appeal to their highest ideals. This is the party of Lincoln. We believe all people are created equal in the eyes of God and our government. This is fundamental. And if someone wants to be our nominee, they must understand this.”

But despite his visible agitation Tuesday, Ryan insisted to a reporter his plans for endorsement haven't changed: He’s still going to back the Republican nominee. Ryan will be in quite the bind if that nominee ends up being Trump.

David Becker / Reuters

You can tell how confident Hillary Clinton’s campaign is—and how confident Democrats are about her prospects—by the fact that even before Super Tuesday polls have closed, there’s already plenty of speculation about whom she might choose as a running mate. On Monday, Yahoo reported that one name floating around in leftist circles is Tom Perez, the secretary of labor and former head of the civil-rights division at the Department of Justice.

Perez has his positives—because he’s a strong progressive, choosing him might help to motivate members of the Elizabeth Warren-Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party upset about a Sanders primary loss. But it might be wise to be skeptical. One of Clinton’s signal weaknesses is as a campaigner. She just doesn’t have the stump skill that some other politicians do. And Perez is an unproven quantity in that respect. He’s only held one elected office—and that was on the Montgomery County Council in Maryland. The last time either party chose a running mate with so little elected experience was when Democrat George McGovern tabbed Sargent Shriver as his running mate in 1972. They got shellacked by Richard Nixon.

Mike Stone / Reuters

Minority voters are likely to play a significant role in today’s nominating contests. On the Democratic front, Hillary Clinton is hoping that African American voters will help her secure the nomination. In South Carolina, she garnered 87 percent of the black vote, giving her campaign momentum coming into Super Tuesday. She’ll be looking to secure a similar victory in southern states, like Georgia and Alabama.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, two Cuban American senators are trying to gain traction with Latino voters. In the Nevada Republican caucuses, exit polls showed Donald Trump with a commanding lead among Latinos, but that’s not necessarily representative of how Latinos will vote across the country. (They made up only 8 percent of caucus goers in Nevada.) Still, it suggested that Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio can’t take their support for granted.

Their votes will be particularly important in states like Texas where Latinos make up about 28 percent of eligible voters.

Mike Stone / Reuters

Is Tuesday the end of the line for Ted Cruz? The Texas senator has run a fantastic campaign, and he’s gotten much farther than many pundits—or the colleagues who loathe him in Washington—would have predicted. But the limitations of his strategy are starting to become clear. Cruz had three tricks up his sleeve: powerful financial backing, the chance to piggyback on Donald Trump, and evangelical voters. The first holds. The second got him a long way, but at some point he finally had to break with Trump, and so far he hasn’t been able to get out ahead of him. The third has been the real problem. Even in South Carolina, with its high proportion of evangelicals, Cruz only managed a third-place finish.

That makes Super Tuesday effectively make or break. As Katie Glueck reports today, the “SEC Primary” was always intended to be Cruz’s firewall—a set of Southern, religious states that would save him even if the first few contests didn’t go well. Instead, Glueck writes:

Cruz walks into March 1 on his heels. He failed spectacularly in South Carolina, the first test of his appeal in the South, and is now on the defensive even in his home state of Texas. And if polls are to be believed, he could lose it all on Tuesday to Donald Trump.

If Cruz wins only Texas—and especially if he loses it—his shot at the nomination is probably over. But don’t expect him to drop out, warns Joshua Green: “Dropping out would violate the logic of Cruz's whole political career. And anyone acquainted with his character and ambition should probably assume, as I do, that he won’t.” One major reason: Losing in 2016 but putting up a good fight would be perfect positioning for a 2020 run.

Bernie Sanders isn't keeping his Super Tuesday vote secret. The Democratic presidential candidate proudly proudly declared that he voted for himself, a moment captured on video by reporters. “I will tell you, after a lot of thought, I voted for me for president,” Sanders told the crowd immediately after snapping a selfie with someone at a polling place in Burlington, Vermont.

Sanders faces an uphill climb today as voters pick winners in the Democratic primary contest in a number of states. Clinton unquestionably has momentum coming off of her recent South Carolina primary win and it remains to be seen if Sanders can expand his appeal. For now, however, Sanders is projecting confidence. When asked how he was feeling, Sanders replied: “Feeling great.”


It wasn’t supposed to be like this.