Tuesday night was a very good night for Donald Trump—but was it good enough?
The entertainer consolidated his lead in the Republican Party and drove Marco Rubio to drop out of the race. Trump scored a huge win in Florida, taking the state’s 99 delegates and humiliating Rubio, a son of the Sunshine State who couldn’t win at home. But Trump’s failure to beat John Kasich in Ohio will prolong the race—and increases the odds that Trump will not win the 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the GOP nomination outright over Kasich and Senator Ted Cruz. Falling short would lead the party to a contested convention with unpredictable and volatile results.
Republicans are left to choose what sort of catastrophic conclusion they’d like for the primary campaign: a Donald Trump nomination? Or a fractious, chaotic contested convention? On Tuesday, GOP voters lurched uneasily toward the latter.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton notched a signature win in Ohio, holding back a fierce, late charge from Bernie Sanders mounted after since his shocking upset win in Michigan on March 8. Clinton also triumphed in Florida, North Carolina, and Illinois. While Clinton’s aides have argued that she already has a prohibitive delegate lead, Tuesday’s results should convince many outsiders they are correct.
Shortly after 8 p.m., Rubio came on stage in Miami and delivered his concession, an impassioned plea for hope and optimism—a speech to remind listeners why he was seen at one time as a Hispanic Barack Obama. Without naming Trump, Rubio harshly criticized the frontrunner’s divisive rhetoric. “From a political standpoint, the easiest thing to have done in this campaign is to ... make people angrier, to make people more frustrated,” he said. “But I chose a different route, and I’m proud of that. In a year like this, that would have been the easiest way to win. But that is not what’s best for America.” (Rubio’s plea for civility was somewhat undermined by boos as he congratulated Trump on his win.)
Rubio rose to the Senate as an insurgent outsider defying party bosses, but later became the doomed hope of those same bosses in the presidential campaign. He had harsh words for a Republican establishment that he accused of being “more interested in winning elections than solving problems or standing by principles.” It’s a strange end to Rubio’s campaign. A man heralded as a rare political talent was unable to turn that into votes, and he even saw it turn into a liability, as rivals derided him as robotic rather than polished. Rubio ultimately won only Minnesota, Puerto Rico, and D.C. His future in politics is cloudy: He’s young and charismatic, but also just got obliterated and will leave the Senate in January.
As Rubio bowed out, Trump was watching as positive results poured in at his Mar a Lago resort 70 miles north in Palm Beach. Though billed a press conference, Trump’s event was really a victory party. The candidate came on stage flanked by his family and by Corey Lewandowski, his embattled campaign manager, who is accused of assaulting a reporter. It was a more relaxed event than the charged, violent affairs his recent rallies have been.
By many standards, Trump had a great night. He blew Rubio out in Florida. He beat Ted Cruz out in North Carolina, where delegates are allocated proportionally. He won in Illinois, the site of his disastrous, aborted rally on Friday night, and in Missouri. But missing out on Ohio means it will be harder for Trump to reach the 1,237-delegate tally by the end of the primary campaign. He’ll need to win nearly 60 percent of all the outstanding delegates, or else he’ll have to defend his lead in Cleveland.
Ted Cruz was largely an afterthought. He was headed for a loss in a Missouri nailbiter, likely to lose to Trump by just a few thousand votes out of nearly a million cast. He was farther back everywhere else. Cruz gave a tough speech in Houston, rejecting Kasich as a Trump alternative. “"Only two campaigns have a plausible path to the nomination," he said. "Nobody else has any mathematical possibility whatsoever."
Kasich, meanwhile, delivered a jubilant and somewhat disjointed speech in Berea, a Cleveland suburb. He presented himself as the sunny, hard-working alternative to Trump, though at times he sounded more like a man who had just won reelection as governor than as a prospective president. Kasich still faces major obstacles. Though he delivered the impressive Ohio win with a late charge to overtake Trump—Kasich takes home all 66 delegates—it’s still the first state he’s won, and he had a huge advantage coming in. Kasich has his own political liabilities. He might be kicked off the ballot in Pennsylvania for failing to gather enough valid signatures. Kasich is in desperate need of cash, though his aides believe that establishment money will come his way with Rubio out. Even then, Kasich’s hopes depend on the nomination being decided at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. Calling that path tenuous significantly understates things, but practically no one would have predicted last fall that Kasich would be the establishment’s last, best hope.
Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, saw some of his last, best hopes slip away. The Sanders campaign has been a see-saw affair: from longshot gadfly to serious threat; from New Hampshire triumph to South Carolina collapse; from a tough southern swing to a stunning upset in Michigan. Things swung back downward Tuesday. Sanders’s fans had argued that the Michigan results showed Clinton couldn’t win in the Midwest, that she was a paper tiger who could only win in Southern red states. Her win in Ohio demolishes that argument. Sanders’s imprecations against fat cats and free trade didn’t work as well as in Michigan, and Clinton was able to win even in the post-industrial Mahoning Valley. Sanders also lost in North Carolina—a state he’d been expected to lose, but which he visited in recent days—and in Florida. In a pair of close races, Clinton seemed headed toward a narrow win in Illinois, and Sanders a narrow win in Missouri.
Those tight races are likely to produce a roughly equal delegate split between the two of them. That’s not really enough for Sanders, who needs to make up lots of ground on Clinton. Her aides have insisted for a week that any talk about the Democratic nomination was nothing more than talk. Whoever won a given state, they said, Clinton’s delegate lead was already practically insurmountable. Her wins on Tuesday will likely convince many doubters. Sanders has bounced back before, but the coming contests don’t seem especially promising for him.
That means the big story of the night is Trump’s triumphs and what they portend for the Republican race. Promises of impending anti-Trump cavalry have repeatedly gone unfulfilled, and the brigades that have arrived have found their efforts futile. The next few weeks will show just how serious the Republican Party’s inner circles are about a contested convention. Do they risk destroying the party by snatching the nomination away from the clear leader? Or do they risk destroying the party by allowing Trump to take the nomination? Expect to hear a great deal about the ins and outs of GOP rules, how to interpret them, and who they might help in the coming days. A week ago, Rubio told a crowd, “I believe with all my heart that the winner of the Florida primary ... will be the nominee of the Republican Party.” Rubio won’t be either of those, but to his chagrin, he might still be right.
Things could change, but Missouri looks like it could be a narrow victory for Trump. He leads Cruz by 3,000 votes with 89 percent of precincts reporting. Most of Missouri's delegates will be allocated by congressional district, but 12 of them will go to the statewide winner. Neither candidate can write them off as this race turns into a delegate-by-delegate brawl.
The vote is close in Missouri. It might stay that way. This appears to be a game of inches, and whoever wins statewide will automatically get 12 delegates.
But where Trump and Cruz find their support will matter a lot more. See, Missouri awards five delegates for every congressional district a candidate wins. Right now, the two men are too close to call in at least three districts, according to The Green Papers. How the remaining vote falls in the next few hours could swing 15 delegates one way or another.
More news from the front lines of Trump coverage: Politico’s Ben Schreckinger was escorted off the property at Mar-a-Lago.
POLITICO is far from alone among media organizations being denied entry to Trump events. The Des Moines Register, Univision, Fusion, The Huffington Post, and BuzzFeed have all been denied credentials to Trump's events, often after publishing critical stories about the campaign. In January, New York Times reporter Trip Gabriel was ejected from an event in Iowa after writing about Trump's weak ground game in the state, which he eventually lost to Ted Cruz.
There has been a lot of talk about delegate math and the fact that Trump hasn’t captured half of the votes yet. CNN’s John King calculated that, at best, he’d have to win 60 percent of the remaining votes to avoid a contested convention. It’s tempting to think that Trump’s odds of winning outright are fading, especially given the virtual tie between Trump and Cruz in Missouri right now.
However, that math misses the critical part of the next phase of the Republican primaries: Many states are winner-take-all. Of the remaining delegates, 543 belong to winner-take-all states, with some truly winner-take-all at a state level and some based on districts, including the big fish of California. And an additional 163 delegates are in majority-takes-all states, where state and congressional delegates are all given to the winner if the winner takes more than 50 percent of the vote.
The remaining math still provides a strong possible pathway for an outright nomination. A clean sweep in the winner-take-all states and a good showing in most districts, while unlikely, could see Trump coast into the nomination. Assuming he only captures 70 percent of winner-take-all and majority-take-all delegates, he only would need to pick up about half of the remaining delegates to secure the nomination. It’s certainly within the realm of possibility.
Ted Cruz tried to put a positive spin on what was, at best, a mediocre night for his campaign. He is running neck-and-neck with Trump in Missouri but has lost to him and John Kasich elsewhere. “Tonight was a good night,” he said nonetheless, speaking to supporters in Houston. “Tonight, we continued to gain delegates and continued our march to 1,237.” Cruz paid tribute to Marco Rubio, congratulating him on a strong race and saying he could paint “a tapestry” in his speeches. And then he went straight for Rubio’s supporters. “To those who supported Marco, who worked so hard, we welcome you with open arms,” Cruz said. He ignored Kasich altogether and told Republicans they now had a clear choice. “Only two campaigns have a plausible path to the nomination,” he said. “Nobody else has any mathematical possibility whatsoever.” Yet with Trump’s victories tonight, it’s getter more and more difficult for Cruz to win the nomination without forcing a contested convention.
With a razor-thin margin separating Cruz and Trump, what a mystery Missouri has turned out to be. The dividing lines, according to CNN’s exit polls:
Age: Cruz won voters under 60; Trump won the vote of everyone older.
Education & income: Trump fought Cruz to a draw among people with a high-school education or less, and beat him among voters who attended some college. But Cruz cleaned the floor with him among the college-educated.
Income: Interesting blip, Cruz won folks making under $50,000 and above $100,000, but Trump captured the middle.
Religion: No surprise here... Cruz handily beat Trump among evangelicals.
Time decided: Cruz was by far the most popular pick for voters who made up their minds in the last week or the last few days. Trump voters decided on him more than a month ago.
The opulent scene at Mar-a-Lago. Watching Trump from way back in the room. MSNBC’s Trump reporter said, “I’ve never seen so many diamonds in my life.”
Tonight has been a good night for John Kasich, and tomorrow, he’s off to Pennsylvania… where he might not even be a candidate. The campaign needed 2,000 signatures to appear on the state’s ballot, and it gathered 2,184—but 192 were found invalid, putting him beneath the threshold.
Kasich’s defense? The objection (to his Pennsylvania paperwork) was filed at 5:13 p.m. on the day of the filing deadline—making it 13 minutes too late, his lawyers say. They’re now making that point before the state’s Commonwealth Court, which will decide if 5 p.m. was really the deadline.
Then again, Marco Rubio’s defeat in Florida might just give the Ohio governor a pass. The petition challenger is a Rubio supporter, and the attorney representing him is the brother of Rubio’s Pennsylvania campaign chair. They very well could drop the whole matter.
Coming off wins in Florida, North Carolina, and Missouri, Donald Trump had many people to thank Tuesday night for his success in the race so far. Ben Carson, Chris Christie, and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi for their endorsements. His wife, Melania, for her support from the campaign's beginning. And he called out House Speaker Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell for their “tremendous” and “great” conversations, respectively.
But perhaps the most striking acknowledgment went to his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who stood at Trump’s right hand. “Corey, good job, Corey,” Trump said, before praising the many wins the campaign has racked up.
Lewandowski’s placement on the stage, and the nod from Trump, are surprising even in this nutso primary campaign. Just days ago, a Breitbart reporter named Michelle Fields alleged that Lewandowski assaulted her at a Trump event. (The Washington Post has a rundown of what happened after here. ) The incident, many in the media felt, was a physical manifestation of the Trump campaign’s hostility to the press. That Trump would include him on the stage is a signal the GOP front-runner isn’t paying Lewandowski’s critics any mind.
Trump also had noticeably kind words for Marco Rubio in his speech, which didn’t include a Q&A as these victory events typically have. “To win by that kind of number [in Florida] is incredible,” Trump said, before noting the “really tough campaign” Rubio had waged. “He’s tough, he’s smart, and he’s got a great future.” It was quite the change from weeks of “Little Marco” denigrations.
As he wrapped up his shorter-than-usual speech, Trump went back to where it all began: an insistence on winning. “We’re gonna win, win, win, and we’re not stopping,” Trump said. “We’re going to have great victories for our country.”
Bernie Sanders went after Donald Trump aggressively in a speech to supporters in Phoenix, Arizona. Sanders declared that Trump will never become president because Americans won’t tolerate “insults to Mexicans, Muslims, or women.” Sanders denounced the GOP presidential front-runner for leading “the so-called birther effort,” describing it as “an ugly, ugly attempt to undermine the legitimacy of the presidency of Barack Obama.” Then Sanders pointed to what he portrayed as a racist double standard. “President Obama’s father was born in Kenya. My father was born in Poland. But nobody asks me for my birth certificate,” Sanders said to loud applause. “I kinda think, maybe, it has something to do with the fact that my skin color is a little bit different than the president’s.”
Tonight has not gone well for Bernie Sanders. Clinton has already notched victories in Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio. But you wouldn’t know that from listening to Sanders’s speech where he took the occasion to reiterate many popular elements of his stump speech. Sanders railed against income equality, called for criminal justice and immigration reform, and pushed for action to fight against global warming.
It makes sense for Sanders to take any air time he can get to continue to introduce himself to voters. But no amount of optimism can erase the fact that his prospects for the Democratic nomination look increasingly dim this evening. Sanders is already trailing far behind Clinton in the delegate count, and his rival will add to her lead tonight. The challenge for Sanders will be to continue to make the case that he remains a viable candidate. It won’t be easy. The one bright spot for Sanders in the evening is currently his slight lead over Clinton in Missouri, a state that has not yet been called. Illinois has also not yet been decided, but Clinton leads Sanders there. For now, though, Sanders remains sunny. He ended a winding, lengthy speech tonight by predicting that his campaign will win Arizona next week “if the voter turnout is high, let’s make it high.”
CNN and the AP are calling the Republican primary in North Carolina for Trump, but the drama isn’t quite over in the Tar Heel State. North Carolina is a proportional state, with delegates divided by vote percentages to all candidates. An analysis by The New York Times shows Ted Cruz only 4 percentage points behind Trump, and The Green Papers show him only three delegates behind.
Interestingly, exit polls in North Carolina showed that six out of ten Republican voters believe foreign trade costs Americans jobs. This is an important issue in North Carolina, which has seen some of the worst effects of a textile and industry job decline. But interestingly, exit polls show these voters favored Trump, who has admittedly exploited the same kind of business loopholes that they may believe are costing jobs. Perhaps they believe that a person so familiar with the things they oppose would know best how to fix them?
North Carolina had the largest share of evangelical voters of the states today, at almost two-thirds of the Republican voters. Economic issues dominated their concerns, with most voters declaring that they were “falling behind” economically and seeking change.
Trump won big among the state’s famous moderate and even liberal Republican voters, but there are some signs in the exit polls that it could be a critical state in the general election if an independent candidate does run to the moderate side of Trump. With news of some Republican leaders exploring third-party options, four in ten Republican voters in the North Carolina exit polls say they would consider a third-party candidate in November if the Democratic and Republican options are Clinton and Trump. North Carolina might still be a player for the #NeverTrump movement.
Trump just said he had a “great conversation” today on the phone with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—whose only characterization of the talk to reporters was that he urged Trump to condemn the violence that has broken out at his rallies. No mention of that from Trump.
It seemed as though Trump was playing to the crowd inside his ballroom in Mar-a-Lago just then. Filled with wealthy members of his country club, this is a much different audience than the blue-collar people who seem to make up most of his rallies. “We need the rich in order to make the country great, I’m sorry to tell you,” he said at one point. And then he told a long story about the indignity of having to watch attack ads aimed at him during the commercial breaks at the close of the professional golf tournament held earlier this month at his course in Doral, Florida.
Tonight may be one of John Kasich’s few moments basking in electoral success, thanks to his home state of Ohio. With a big case on abortion pending at the Supreme Court, it’s worth noting that Kasich—who has sometimes been billed as a moderate in a race filled with otherwise extreme rhetoric—signed a bill that effectively defunds Planned Parenthood’s health services late last month. This includes money for HIV testing, cancer screenings, and programs aimed at preventing domestic violence. The law prohibits certain state funds from going to organizations that perform or promote abortions; while Planned Parenthood wasn’t mentioned, its authors recognized that it would be the organization most affected, according to the AP.
This may seem like a savvy political move for Kasich following this fall’s controversy over Planned Parenthood’s fetal-tissue donation practices. It’s in line with his past political stances on abortion, and it’s also in line with his faith. Kasich belongs to the Anglican Church in North America, a conservative break-off group from the Episcopal Church of the United States. In contrast to the Episcopal Church, which opposes government restrictions on abortion, the ACNA opposes abortion. Laura Turner has a great round-up of the way Kasich’s faith may shape his views on a host of other issues, including immigration and gay marriage.
Donald Trump is projected the winner of Illinois, according to projections by ABC and NBC. It’s the second state Trump takes tonight. The demographic in the state gave Trump a leg up—it’s largely white and the majority of voters do not have a college degree.
Beyond the presidential race, there’s an upset worth noting in Illinois. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that incumbent Cook County District Attorney Anita Alvarez has conceded the race to challenger Kim Foxx. As Vann noted earlier tonight, Alvarez came under intense criticism for her office’s handling of the Laquan McDonald killing last year. Her defeat tonight is a testament to the organizing of black and progressive activists in the Chicago area and a warning to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has faced similar intense criticism over McDonald’s death.
A sunnier-than-thou John Kasich beamed Tuesday night as he took the stage at an Ohio campaign rally to chants of “U.S.A.! U.S.A!”
“You better believe it’s about America,” Kasich said to the crowd in response—it’s about “pulling us together, not pulling us apart.”
Kasich’s message of unity has grown louder in recent weeks, as the once under-the-radar candidate polled competitively against Trump in Ohio, and it started to look like he could wrest Ohio’s delegates from the front-runner. A victory in the Buckeye State makes Trump’s road to the nomination harder, and the establishment had crossed its fingers crossed that Kasich’s popularity would carry the day.
“I love ya,” Kasich told the Ohio voters who gave him the win, at the top of a typically rambling speech. He later added: “It’s been my intention to make you proud.”
Kasich promised that he’d be at the GOP convention in Cleveland in July to secure the party’s nomination. Once he’s in Washington, his “shock-and-awe” agenda in his first 100 days will push the famously gridlocked city into action. And he pledged, as he has in recent speeches, that his tone won’t be changing in response to the divisive front-runner’s: “I want to remind you again tonight that I will not take the low road to the highest office in the land.”
Trump supporters have so far heckled two Republican victory speeches tonight, starting when a protester repeatedly shouted, “Vote Trump!” during Marco Rubio’s exit speech. Another audience member wearing a Trump hat interrupted John Kasich, as he began begin his celebration speech in Ohio, and was escorted out. But both candidates handled the hecklers with patience (especially Rubio, who was being harassed as he was attempting to graciously quit the race), but the interactions immediately called to mind the current Republican front-runner’s dealings with dissenters at some of his recent rallies.
President Obama hasn’t endorsed in the Democratic primary to succeed him, but he did endorse a Democrat in a down-ballot race—much further down the ballot, actually. And it looks like his candidate is going to win. In his home state of Illinois, the president took the rare step of backing a challenger to an incumbent state representative, Democrat Ken Dunkin. Obama aired a radio ad in support of Dunkin’s opponent, Juliana Stratton, citing her support for tougher gun laws and improving the juvenile-justice system. But according to the Chicago Tribune and other local outlets, the real reason Obama is backing Stratton is because Dunkin has Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan on key votes, in some cases denying the party a veto-proof majority against Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, whose allies are backing Dunkin. Obama hinted at his position when he spoke to the Illinois General Assembly last month, where he told the incumbent, “We'll talk later, Dunkin.” With about 60 percent of the precincts reporting, Stratton is up by a 2-to-1 margin and appears headed for victory—thanks in part, perhaps, to Obama.
One thing we’re going to hear a lot more about in the coming weeks? Rule 40(b)
(b) Each candidate for nomination for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States shall demonstrate the support of a majority of the delegates from each of eight (8) or more states, severally, prior to the presentation of the name of that candidate for nomination. Notwithstanding any other provisions of these rules or any rule of the House of Representatives, to demonstrate the support required of this paragraph a certificate evidencing the affirmative written support of the required number of permanently seated delegates from each of the eight (8) or more states shall have been submitted to the secretary of the convention not later than one (1) hour prior to the placing of the names of candidates for nomination pursuant to this rule and the established order of business.
Translated into English, it means that the only candidates who can receive votes at the Republican National Convention are those who can demonstrate, an hour before voting on the floor begins, that they command the support of the majority of the delegates from eight states. That’s not just true of the first ballot, when most delegates are bound to support specific candidates—it’s true of every subsequent ballot, as well.
The rule was put into place by the Romney campaign in 2012, to keep Ron Paul—and every other candidate—from receiving any votes on the convention floor, as a way of reinforcing party unity.
Now, it seems poised to have some unintended effects. With his defeat in Ohio, Donald Trump now faces a difficult path to accumulating an outright majority of delegates. Coming into tonight, Ted Cruz has won eight states—but only commands a majority of delegates in three of them. And Kasich has only Ohio.
Now, it’s a long way to the convention. Trump could win outright. Cruz or Kasich could go on a tear. Supporters of Rubio in Minnesota, Washington, D.C., or Puerto Rico could throw their weight behind Cruz or Kasich. Even if only Trump clears the hurdle, the Standing Committee on Rules, the RNC itself, Convention, or the Convention Rules Committee could meet and amend the rule.
But amending the rules to block Trump carries its own risks. And it seems likely that an obscure procedural rule intend to maintain a façade of unity is about to become a focal point of debate.
In her victory speech in Florida, Hillary Clinton weighed in on immigration, saying deportations should end. It’s a divergence from the Obama administration, which recently carried out a wave of deportation raids and has over time surpassed former U.S. presidents in the number of deportations. But the message might resonate in a state where 20 percent of Latinos cast their vote in the Democratic primary.
Hillary Clinton took a victory lap speaking to supporters in West Palm Beach, Florida. “We are moving closer to securing the Democratic Party nomination and winning this election in November,” a smiling Clinton declared to cheers and applause. She congratulated her rival, Bernie Sanders, for the “vigorous campaign he’s waging,” but didn’t seem too anxious at the threat.
Clinton is having a very good night. Media outlets have already declared Clinton the winner in Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina. The victories will add to Clinton’s commanding delegate lead, making it that much harder for Sanders to catch up. Clinton’s victory in Ohio is particularly significant given that the Sanders campaign had eyed the Rust Belt state as a place where voters might flock to the Vermont senator’s economic populist message. The win allows Clinton’s campaign to argue that Sanders’s upset victory in the Michigan Democratic primary may have been more of a one-off event than the start of a trend. Illinois and Missouri haven’t been called yet, but Clinton holds a lead in both states.
Clinton quickly pivoted to make a general-election pitch during her Florida speech, taking on Donald Trump in the process. “We should be breaking down barriers, not building walls,” Clinton said, adding: “We’re not going to succeed by dividing this country between us and them.” The candidate spoke of the high stakes in the election in a bid to energize her supporters. “Tonight it’s clearer than ever that this may be one of the most consequential campaigns of our lifetimes,” Clinton said soberly. “The next president will walk into the Oval Office next January, sit down at that desk and start making decisions that will affect the lives and the livelihoods of everyone in this country, indeed everyone on this planet.”
“That doesn’t make him strong. It makes him wrong,” Hillary Clinton says of Donald Trump, stirring echoes of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who liked to say back in the day: “When people are insecure, they’d rather have somebody who is strong and wrong than someone who’s weak and right.”
Everyone has a Unifying Theory of Trump Supporters. Is it a pernicious mix of laziness and entitlement, as the guys at National Review write? Is it resentment about a world that has passed them up, as Molly writes? Is it the North Carolina microcosm, as David writes? Is it the promises of big action and big government, as Yoni writes? Is it his World Wrestling Federation past, as Vann writes? Probably all are true at once. But as Vox, Politico, and other outfits have reported, a small group of political scientists, including the University of North Carolina’s Jonathan Weiler, think the crucial commonality among Trump supporters comes to this: They are authoritarians.
On Sunday’s GPS, Fareed Zakaria spoke with Weiler about his research and his prescient 2009 book, Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics (coauthored with Marc Hetherington). What makes Weiler’s work fascinating is that he can predict a Trump voter with astonishing accuracy across demographic lines. “They believe very strongly in a need for social order as traditionally defined,” says Weiler. “And they feel very fearful and resentful toward groups and social norms that might challenge that traditional order.”
Though research into mass authoritarianism is not new—after World War II, people really wanted fascism explained—Weiler says that what is new is the focus on the people who respond to authoritarianism more so than the authoritarian leader’s personality itself. Weiler examined the “particular personality type [who] … feel a strong need for order, who want to ensure that people who are not like them are, sort of, put in their place, and want clear, simple solutions to complicated problems.” OK, so far, so familiar.
How does Weiler suss out these personalities? This is where things get really interesting. He asks four parenting questions—about the kinds of attributes people want their children to have. People who prioritize respect for elders, obedience, and good manners over creativity, individuality, and curiosity tend to be more authoritarian. Weiler’s colleague Matt McWilliams, from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, did a survey in December that included the four parenting questions, and “to a striking degree … how people answer these four parenting questions was by far the best predicator of their support for Donald Trump.” Better than gender, better than income, better than education, or demographics writ large—the parenting questions are a “much stronger” predictor of Trump supporters.
So, what about those bitter white working-class voters we’ve been hearing so much about? “The truth is white, working-class voters who are low on authoritarianism—and they exist—they don’t like Trump at all. And college-educated voters who are high on authoritarianism like Trump a lot.” In fact, Weiler says, “The degree to which working-class status explains Trump, it kind of—it goes away.” Hear that? It goes away.
Of course, now another group of political scientists is saying that in fact the authoritarians are following Ted Cruz, not Trump. Trump’s supporters they say are, well, the populists the media says they are. Like I said, everyone has a theory.
Weiler wrapped up his analysis by saying that “the Republican Party in particular has cultivated a base that sees the world” through this authoritarian mind-set, and “they are now beholden to that base, and they need to reflect the worldview and the concerns and the fears of that base.” In other words, at least as far as the Weiler brand of political scientists are concerned, Trump may just be the start of a bigger phenomenon.
The end of Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign is a good time to re-read this paragraph from the Republican Party’s autopsy of the 2012 presidential campaign.
If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.
Rubio initially followed the playbook: The Florida senator, as part of the so-called Gang of Eight, pushed a 2013 bill that would have granted a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. With his Cuban heritage and Tea Party credentials, Rubio positioned himself as a new face for the party. But he backed away from his own bill under pressure from anti-reform conservatives who dominate the GOP nomination fight.
Four years later, the GOP front-runner is now pledging to deport more than 11 million undocumented immigrants and build a wall across the southern border. As the nominee, Donald Trump would cremate the autopsy.
Hillary Clinton hasn’t neutralized the Bernie Sanders threat yet, and she still faces tight races in Illinois and Missouri. But the Democrat won the biggest prize on the board Tuesday, triumphing in the Ohio primary.
Just a week ago, it was a foregone conclusion that Clinton would win in Ohio. Then came Bernie Sanders’s shocking upset win in Michigan, which called into question both the veracity of polling and the Clinton’s ability to win in the industrial Midwest. Her more trade-friendly policies seemed to pale before Sanders’s fiery economic populism and opposition to free-trade deals. Both campaigns focused heavily on the state over the last few days.
In the end, Clinton put up the W anyway. Initial results told the story: Almost every county in the state was headed Clinton’s way. Sanders did well in Athens County, a crunchy Appalachian area home to Ohio University, and around Toledo. But Clinton cleaned up even around Youngstown and in other areas where opposition to trade is especially strong. Sanders apparently wasn’t able to break through there.
Though Illinois and Missouri could complicate matters, Clinton’s win in Ohio helps put to rest a key Sanders criticism: that Clinton could only win in the South, in red states she’d never win in a general election. Her win in Ohio, generally the nation’s pivotal battleground state, shows she has got geographic range. And more importantly in material terms, it hands her another batch of delegates to add to her sizable lead.
It’s not often that a sitting governor is an underdog in his home state, but that’s just what John Kasich faced on Tuesday. The Buckeye State’s leader had promised to drop out if he didn’t win at home, and polls early in the year suggested he was on track to do that. But a funny thing happened starting in early March: Kasich suddenly took back the lead in polls from Donald Trump. He was able to ride that narrow lead to a victory Tuesday.
It’s a huge win for Kasich—his first of the season, and good for all 66 of the state’s delegates. How did Kasich do it? For one, he managed to peak at just the right moment, the crowning achievement of a campaign that few analysts gave much change. The timing of Trump’s tumble in Ohio also suggests voters there may have been turned off by the ugly turn in Trump’s rhetoric and at his events in the last week—a classic assertion of Midwest civility.
“I don’t think Trump plays all that well here, to be honest,” said David B. Cohen, a professor of political science at the University of Akron. “There’s a lot of evidence that there’s white, blue-collar support for Trump, but I think the ugliness that Trump has spouted really doesn’t play all that well in the state of Ohio. It turns a lot of people off.”
Results from Ohio showed that Trump did well in Appalachia and in far Northeast Ohio, around Youngstown—areas that have been hit by a bad economy and industrial loss, where Trump’s anti-free-trade program had a willing audience. He also did well in Southern Ohio, which is demographically more similar to Southern states Trump has won. But the rest of the state was Kasich country.
Kasich can’t win the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination, but he hopes this win will propel him to the Republican National Convention in July, where he can still win the nomination in a contested nomination. And as it happens, that convention will be in Cleveland.
A note on the geography of Kasich’s win in Ohio: Most of the counties he is losing to Trump just happen to lie above the rich vein of Marcellus and Utica shale that runs alongside state’s eastern border. These are the communities that benefited the most from the fracking boom, and they’ve now had to cut back as drilling companies idle their rigs amid a glut of natural gas and cheap oil. Kasich pushed for higher taxes on gas drilling when the industry was hot and was rebuffed; it seems likely that cost him some support tonight.
We don’t focus much on local and state primaries during this live blog, but they are happening as well and one of the most important is the reelection bid for Anita Alvarez, the state’s attorney for Cook County, Illinois. Alvarez has faced sustained protests calling for her resignation in the wake of mass police scandals in Chicago and her office’s handling of the death of Laquan McDonald, who was shot 17 times and killed by an officer in 2014. Senator Sanders has tapped into the local outrage against Alvarez and Mayor Rahm Emanuel in his bid for Illinois, and people at the polls have told me that, in Chicago, Sanders supporters and Alvarez opposers are one and the same.
Early returns have Alvarez behind challenger Kim Foxx in the Cook County state’s attorney Democratic primary. With almost 500 precincts reporting, Alvarez trails Foxx 60 percent to 30 percent, what seems to be a difficult deficit to overcome.
Marco Rubio wanted to shape America from the White House enough to participate in a long, hard, ultimately fruitless campaign. But he has no interest in seeking reelection to the Senate, despite the significant power that comes with that perch, and the launching pad it could provide for a future presidential run. I wonder what it is about the body that he hates so much. And I hope that his fellow Tea Party senator, Rand Paul, takes a different course, doubling down on the legislative institution.
At the outset of his speech, Rubio’s supporters booed when he congratulated Trump on his victory. “I want you to know, there’s nothing more that you could have done,” he said. And without taking additional shots at Trump, he warned: “The politics of resentment of other people are not just going to leave us a fractured party. They’re going to leave us a fractured nation.”
Out of humiliation, Marco Rubio spoke for the Washington establishment when he said America is experiencing a political tsunami—“and we should have seen this coming.”
Rubio and his fellow Republicans in Washington dismissed Donald Trump’s appeal from the start and moved too slowly to blunt it. Few Democrats predicted populist frustration would threaten Hillary Clinton’s coronation, which now seems back on track after moving to the left to counter socialist Bernie Sanders.
His candidacy crushed in his home state of Florida, Rubio spoke to voters across the spectrum who feel disconnected from both parties. “There are millions of Americans who are tired of being looked down upon,” he said.
Marco Rubio ended his campaign for the presidency Tuesday night after losing his home state of Florida by a wide margin to Donald Trump. His eyes appeared welled with tears as he addressed supporters, and the Florida senator said that 2016 was “not the year for a hopeful and optimistic message.”
“After tonight while it is clear that we are on the right side this year, we were not on the winning side,” Rubio said toward the end of a speech in which he restated the themes of his campaign and bemoaned the vitriolic tone that had drowned out his message. He urged Americans, “Do not give in to the fear. Do not give in to the frustration.”
Hillary Clinton is the winner of the North Carolina Democratic primary, according to projections from CBS and NBC. As Vann noted earlier, the demographic layout shown by early exit-poll results appeared to play to Clinton’s advantage. Results showed the black voters, whom Clinton has fared well with, made up about a third of the voters in the state’s Democratic primary.
With Florida lost, even the CNN commentators supportive of Marco Rubio are now referring to him in the past tense. And the Florida exit poll numbers aren’t pretty.
He was popular among Hispanics, particularly those of Cuban descent—no surprise there, given his own Cuban roots and hawkish views on Castro.
But Trump outclassed him nearly everywhere else, even among the highly educated, typically his weakness. On every issue category, poll respondents picked Trump. His biggest lead? Immigration. Indeed, Rubio couldn't even manage much of a lead over Trump among voters who favor giving undocumented immigrants legal status: 37 percent of them went for the junior senator, who has pushed immigration reform, and 36 percent went for the candidate who wants to build a taller wall between the United States and Mexico.
As Rubio just told his supporters, “There’s nothing more you could have done.”
As the polls close in Illinois and Missouri, NBC projects that Illinois is too close to call between Clinton and Sanders and that Missouri is too early to call—an indication the race might not be close. And on the Republican side, Illinois is too close to call between Trump and Cruz, while Missouri is too early to call.
Florida is for front-runners. Both Trump and Clinton have won the state, according to projections from CNN. Trump will automatically gain the state’s 99 delegates, and Clinton’s will be allocated proportional to her win. Trump had roughly 45 percent of the vote, with over 70 percent of votes reported at the top of the hour; Rubio, in second, had 27 percent. Clinton’s lead was even more striking. With more than 70 percent of votes reported, she had 65 percent of the vote to Sanders’s 32.
They may both be victors, but the consequences of their victories are very different. Sanders never pinned his hopes on the Sunshine State, so Clinton’s decisive win mustn’t sting too much. As Priscilla noted earlier, he was likely at a disadvantage with the state’s closed primary, which locked out independents who didn’t switch party affiliations ahead of time. And he was expected to be more competitive in Rust Belt states, especially after his upset last week in Michigan.
But Trump’s victory is a significant (perhaps campaign-ending) blow to Rubio, who was born and raised in south Florida. Though the candidate insisted this morning that he’d continue in the race whether he won Florida or not, it’s hard to see how the campaign could recover—in the eyes of donors and voters—from such a demoralizing loss. The Rubio campaign had suggested in recent days that he was the only candidate who could beat Trump in the state. Not only does Trump get the biggest delegate slice of the night tonight, but if he wins Ohio, too, his lead will be staggering. Ahead of calling the state, CNN reported that Rubio was only winning in his home county of Miami-Dade. Though that area is the state’s most populous, its votes weren’t nearly enough.
CNN’s exit polls are coming in fast, and so far, they project decent margins for Kasich and Clinton in Ohio, predicting 45 percent for the Ohio governor and 53 percent for the former secretary of state.
Kasich, who has yet to claim a primary win but who has campaigned as a unifying alternative to Donald Trump, appears to have broad appeal across multiple categories in his home state. Exit polls show him performing well among both conservative and moderate voters, and he’s popular among both whites and nonwhites. Trump, who polled at 38 percent, has an edge with very poor and less-educated voters; he also was the pick of voters who say their families are “falling behind” financially, as well as the “very conservative.”
Clinton, as expected, polled better with older voters, and she has a commanding lead on Sanders among black residents. That’s a contrast to Michigan, where higher-than-expected black support for Sanders gave him the edge he needed to win the state. Sanders, who polled at 46 percent. continues to be the choice candidate for voters primarily worried about income inequality, and in that regard, Ohio is no different.
Exit polls in North Carolina show a race that’s too close to call, with Donald Trump and Ted Cruz vying for first, at 39-35. That’s a little unexpected—every poll so far has shown Trump with a solid lead, often in double digits. But Cruz spent some time in the state over the last few days and seemed to be making a run of it—with exits suggesting that may have been worth his while, especially since the Old North State allocates its delegates proportionally. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has a sizeable lead over Bernie Sanders, as expected.
Clinton's up by 30 pts in North Carolina in the early vote, 36 pts in FL. If it held, that would cancel all of Sanders' wins this year.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) March 15, 2016
So far, with a third of precincts reporting, Florida is Donald Trump country, with the New York billionaire taking 48 percent of the vote. Though few urban counties have delivered results, early returns indicate he’s leading strongly in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, home to St. Petersburg and Tampa. With those results in mind, the markets appear to have already made up their minds—bettors on PredictIt essentially give Trump a 98 percent chance of winning.
Priscilla mentioned the importance of voter turnout earlier, noting how crucial it is to Sanders's aspirations in Florida. But Clinton, too, is counting on big numbers. Asked by CBS what a "good" night would be for her campaign, Clinton said, simply, that a "good night is Democrats ... turning out to vote for me. That's what I'm hoping for across all these states." Clinton said there's "talk" of voter complacency, assumptions that Clinton will be the nominee, and voters not turning out. But "we just can't afford that," she said.
While primary voters headed to the polls on Tuesday, the country’s elected leadership in Washington was, in one fashion or another, urging Donald Trump to condemn violence at his campaign rallies much more strongly. Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell each voiced concerns during separate press conferences in the Capitol. Unprompted by reporters, McConnell said that he had spoken to Trump about the violence during a phone call earlier Tuesday and “recommended” to him that “it might be a good idea to condemn that and discourage it no matter what the source of it is.” And although President Obama has made fun of the fact that Trump has seemingly hijacked the Republican primary, he devoted most of a speech Tuesday celebrating St. Patrick’s Day to decrying the entire tone of the presidential campaign.
“We have heard vulgar and divisive rhetoric aimed at women and minorities, at Americans who don’t look like us, or pray like us, or vote like we do,” he said. “We’ve seen misguided attempts to shut down that speech, however offensive it may be. We live in a country where free speech is one of the most important rights that we hold.”
Obama never mentioned Trump’s name, but it was clear to whom he was referring. He criticized party leaders for staying silent about it, although he praised Ryan—who was also in attendance—for speaking out. The rhetoric and the images broadcast around the world, he said, were damaging America’s brand. “While some may be more to blame than others for the current climate, all of us are responsible for reversing it,” Obama said. “For it is a cycle that is not an accurate reflection of America. And it has to stop. And I say that not because it’s a matter of ‘political correctness,’ it’s about the way that corrosive behavior can undermine our democracy, and our society, and even our economy.”
Bernie Sanders’s biggest problem right now isn’t the raw number of states he’s losing to Hillary Clinton—it’s the margin by which he’s letting them slip away. The Democratic primaries allocate their delegates proportionately, and those blowout wins have more than offset Sanders’s other victories. So the early returns from Florida have got to be discouraging. With 16 percent of the vote tallied, Clinton leads 62 to 35. That’s the sort of result that could lead to a repeat of the results last week—when Sanders scored an upset victory in Michigan, only to fall even further behind in the tally of pledged delegates.
367 pledged delegates are up for grabs today for the GOP candidates. But not all delegate allocation rules are equal. Here's how the six March 15 races will work:
Florida: 99 delegates are at stake today in the Sunshine State. Florida and Ohio are also the first winner-take-all states, making both states key battlegrounds for Trump to assure his nomination—or for his rivals to thwart it. In an ironic twist, the Florida Republican Party shifted its primary to a winner-take-all format to boost the native-son candidacies of Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. Now that decision could help crown their nemesis.
Illinois: With 69 delegates available, the Land of Lincoln is a rich target for his party's candidates. 15 of those delegates go to the statewide winner, while the other 54 are allocated evenly among the state's 18 congressional districts. But it gets even more complicated than that. Republican voters in Illinois cast their ballots for individual delegates, not for the candidates themselves. Those delegates can either pledge themselves to support a specific candidate or declare themselves uncommitted on the ballot. The delegate counts will likely track with the overall results, but anything can happen.
Missouri: 52 delegates are at stake here. 12 of them go to the winner of the statewide vote. The other 40 delegates are divided among the state's eight congressional districts. Whoever receives the most votes in a district receives all five delegates from it. There's no method of proportional allocation here, so whoever wins a plurality across the state could win all of its delegates. But it's not a true winner-take-all state like Florida and Ohio. A second-place candidate could also chip away at a winner's gains by edging ahead in a few districts.
Northern Marianas Islands: Each of the territory's nine delegates are elected and appointed individually: six during today's caucus and three by virtue of their RNC positions. But all of them must support the presidential candidate chosen by today's caucus for the first ballot at the convention.
North Carolina: All of the state's 72 delegates are allocated proportionally. But unlike many other states in the GOP race so far, North Carolina doesn't use a viability threshold. None of the candidates will go home empty-handed here, and strong performances by the other three contenders could significantly cut into an overall winner's haul.
Ohio: The Buckeye State, along with Florida, is the first winner-take-all state in the GOP race. All 66 delegates will go to the candidate who wins the most votes. For Donald Trump, it's a chance to solidify his lead and guarantee his nomination. For his rivals, especially Ohio Governor John Kasich, it's one of the last, best chances to slow Trump's march to Cleveland.
Earlier today I noted that not many North Carolina Republicans have embraced Donald Trump. But score one for The Donald: Representative Renee Ellmers said she cast a vote for the entertainer. Ellmers was visiting polling places even though votes in congressional races in the Old North State won’t matter, thanks to a new redistricting plan just instituted, after a court struck down the old map.
That redistricting plan might have something to do with Ellmers’s choice of a candidate, too. Ellmers entered the House in the 2010 Tea Party wave, but has been criticized by some activists for being too moderate on some issues, especially abortion. She’s now set to face off against Representative George Holding in an incumbent vs. incumbent race. Casting her lot with Trump, who’s expected to carry North Carolina, could help her establish some outsider cred. The congressional primary will be on June 7.
The first results are now rolling in from Florida, which held ten days of early voting, and conducts extensive absentee balloting. And, as expected, Trump is out to an early lead. With the first 5 percent reporting, Trump has 47. 9 percent, to Rubio’s 22.5 percent, with Cruz and Kasich trailing.
Take that with a very large grain of salt, though. Trump has typically done much better in early balloting than with same-day voting. That’s often been chalked up to whatever particular controversial thing he’s said in the days just before a particular election. But exit polls have also consistently shown that voters who made their minds up early favor Trump by greater margins than those who decided at the last moment.
Taken together, those findings suggest that the Republican electorate is divided between pro-Trump and anti-Trump factions. Many Trump supporters are locked in. The anti-Trump voters? They may wait until the final moments before they decide which of the alternatives they find most appealing. A month ago, they might have supported Ben Carson, or Jeb Bush, or Chris Christie. If so, they’ve needed to settle on new alternatives. So it’s reasonable to expect that Trump’s early margin will tighten as the evening goes along.
Voter turnout has been a key element in the presidential primary thus far, particularly for candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders who have made a point of mobilizing voters. Today’s elections are no exception. In North Carolina, the New York Times reports “steady voter turnout,” but voters in the state are also given 10 days of early voting, and they came out in droves. North Carolina’s Board of Elections said that “almost 11 percent of the state’s 6.5 million registered voters cast ballots,” according to The News & Observer.
In Florida, Marco Rubio is also dependent on voter turnout, particularly in his hometown of Miami. Early exit poll results show the Florida senator garnering one-third of his support from the area. It’s a crucial state for Rubio who is seeking to prove he still stands a chance against front-runner Donald Trump.
On the Democratic front, Bernie Sanders may also be at a disadvantage in Florida. The state is a closed primary state, meaning that only voters registered as either Democrat or Republican can cast a ballot. Independents, whom Sanders has fared well with, in the state have to change their registration to Democrat in order to vote. According to USA Today, many young Florida voters failed to change their registration months ago, leaving out a demographic that has largely backed the Vermont senator.
But they’re not the only ones sitting out. The Tampa Bay Times estimates 3.2 million registered voters in the state won’t be able to participate. It’s not the first closed election to take place thus far. Some of the others include the Iowa caucus, the Nevada caucus, Oklahoma primary, and the Alaska caucus.
Jumping back to Trump's win in the Northern Mariana Islands for a minute: Those nine delegates may have been the easiest he ever picked up. The islands have the highest delegates-per-resident ratio of the entire GOP field, bolstered by a small population and RNC rules that allot a minimum number of delegates to every jurisdiction. Because of it, Trump could spend a relatively low amount in outreach and get an oversized edge on the convention leaderboard.
Hillary Clinton also took advantage of this, reportedly juicing up her vote count by targeting 50 people on the island through Facebook.
As you'd expect, the United States' other island territories—American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands—also have favorable ratios, followed closely by low-population states like Wyoming and North Dakota. If a single Republican candidate swept all the island territories (excluding Puerto Rico), they'd get 36 delegates, which is worth more than nearly half of the mainland states.
Early exit poll results show just how much of a demographic uphill battle today is for Bernie Sanders. Black voters make up at least 20 percent of the voters in each Democratic primary today, and make up about a third of the voters in the crucial states of Florida, Illinois, and North Carolina.
Granted, Sanders had a surprising showing in Michigan among black voters, which helped propel him to an unlikely win. But Hillary Clinton has still consistently polled much better among black voters nationally. Today is a day unlike most days with multiple elections for Sanders, as he has usually been able to lean on states with large white populations to stem the tide of Clinton's gains with minorities.
On the Republican front, about two-thirds of all voters support a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants, with three-quarters of all such voters supporting a ban in Missouri, according to early exit polls results. Most of these voters do not favor deporting immigrants who are already here. These numbers are consistent with exit polls in some previous states and provide a real glimpse into the climate that drives Donald Trump's support. Late last year, Trump called for a temporary ban of all Muslims entering the United States.
Jeb Bush has been awfully quiet lately. Multiple media outlets reported last week that Bush had plans to meet with three of his former GOP presidential rivals, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich. (Donald Trump's name was notably absent from the list.) The itinerary fueled speculation that the former Florida governor might be planning to make an endorsement ahead of the Florida primary.
But Bush has yet to publicly throw his weight behind any particular candidate. That silence could mean any number of things. It might reflect a calculation that endorsements haven't seemed to carry much weight this election cycle. It might also be interpreted as evidence of lingering bad blood between Bush and his former rivals, or at the very least a lack of enthusiasm on the part of the former governor.
A programming note: The first polls to close tonight will be in Florida at 7 p.m. ET, though some will stay open till 8 p.m. ET. Ohio and North Carolina are next, at 7:30 p.m. ET. And Missouri and Illinois won't stop voting till 8 p.m. ET. The good news? As Yoni noted earlier today, North Carolina, Ohio, and Florida are loaded with absentee ballots this cycle, and the Associated Press reports counting in those first two states could be quick.
The Florida airwaves are an open firefight, but the candidates are choosing strange targets.
Marco Rubio, who has made his home state his final stand, has aired nearly 2,000 ads against Donald Trump, counting those paid for by friendly Super PACs. That makes sense; Trump is the frontrunner, and he's pushed more than 350 ads against Rubio in return, according to the Political TV Ad Archive.
But Rubio's allies have also unloaded substantial firepower against John Kasich—476 ads, most in the past week or so—who isn't even campaigning in Florida. In doing so, they've ignored Ted Cruz, whose camp responded by funding at least 80 anti-Rubio commercials in the Sunshine State.
It’s hard to discern Rubio's strategy here. Obviously, Rubio and Trump are going to tussle. But why ignore Cruz, the more pressing threat in delegates? And Bashing Kasich looks ridiculous when the Rubio campaign is actively encouraging its supporters to vote for him in Ohio, even if they're afraid he'll bleed off the support they need to defeat Trump at home.
In Chicago, it’s a tight race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. The New York Times reports that some voters at the polls are torn between the two candidates. “This primary was extraordinarily tough,” James Nelson, 31, told the Times, adding that he sides more with Sanders but cast his vote for Clinton because he was searching for a person that “could get stuff done.” Sanders spent much of his time campaigning in the city leading up to Illinois’ primary, directing most of his attacks toward Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Hillary Clinton supporter.
As the Chicago Sun-Times notes, Sanders campaign “has been working to link Clinton with Mayor Rahm Emanuel,” also airing ads criticizing the state’s “political climate.” And on the eve of Illinois’ primary, Sanders stuck to a regular talking point, saying “It looks to me like Chicago and Illinois are ready for a political revolution and that is what we are going to see tomorrow.” Despite being from the Chicago suburbs, Clinton is still facing a tough race with Sanders—and she’s prepping for it. On Tuesday, Clinton encouraged her backers to do all they can to rally support. “Do not rest,” she said.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, who have not endorsed any candidate, have also cast their ballot in Illinois, where Obama served in the state senate until winning a U.S. Senate seat. According to McClatchy’s Anita Kumar, the two voted absentee in the state’s Democratic primary.
"The differences between residents in Bonifay in north Florida and those in Broward County in south Florida are about as stark as voters in Birmingham, Alabama, with those in Boston, Massachusetts." That’s from a colorful Associated Press report out today describing ideological differences among Republican voters in Florida. The party chair in one northern county said Trump might do well in north Florida because of its similarities with Georgia and Alabama—two states Trump won on (the first) Super Tuesday. Rubio, by contrast, could do well in the south, where he's from and where most of the state's voters live.
The 2012 primary map could provide some clues about tonight's results, too. Back then, Newt Gingrich, a favorite of Christian conservatives who wield influence in the American south, took most of the northern counties; given Trump's appeal to this community, he could do well, too. Mitt Romney—who, like Rubio, is more mainstream—did well across southern Florida, particularly in Miami-Dade County where he got roughly 60 percent of the vote. He ended up taking the state.
Think these differences are really strange? So do officials in South Miami, who've passed largely symbolic resolutions calling for the state to be split in two. They have a singular concern: "South Florida issues" related to the environment "do not receive the support of Tallahassee," one resolution reads. As a New Jerseyan born and raised, I can sympathize with in-state tensions. South Jersey FTW.
On Sunday, I wrote about the ways in which Donald Trump has scrambled the conventional dividing lines in American politics, by fusing Democratic support for an active, interventionist government and strong social insurance, with Republican hostility to welfare and wealth transfers. There’s a wealth of academic research to suggest that Trump’s platform aligns with the views of white, ethnocentric voters—that largely blue-collar portion of the electorate that expresses strong attitudes of racial resentment—more perfectly than the platform of either party. So far, at least, that’s helped deliver to him a plurality of the vote in most Republican primaries.
An essay in the new National Review unloads on these voters, and their discontents. Kevin D. Williamson writes that they are clinging to the lie that they “have been victimized by outside forces.” They “may be struggling to make it in the global economy, but what they really are shut out of is the traditional family.” There is, he suggests, nothing wrong with the Rust Belt that a good dose of personal responsibility won’t cure:
Nothing happened to them. There wasn’t some awful disaster. There wasn’t a war or a famine or a plague or a foreign occupation. Even the economic changes of the past few decades do very little to explain the dysfunction and negligence—and the incomprehensible malice—of poor white America. So the gypsum business in Garbutt ain’t what it used to be. There is more to life in the 21st century than wallboard and cheap sentimentality about how the Man closed the factories down.
The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs. Forget your goddamned gypsum, and, if he has a problem with that, forget Ed Burke, too. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.
It’s not just Williamson, either. His colleague David French quickly chimed in to add that, “millions of Americans aren’t doing their best. Indeed, they’re barely trying.”
It’s easy to dismiss this as the sneering condescension of elite journalists. But Williamson has reported extensively from these communities, and been consistent in his advocacy of the politics of personal responsibility. Whatever the flaws in his language or evidence, his essay might also be read as an anguished, angry rebuke, offered because Williamson cares deeply about what he’s seen, and not because he doesn’t.
What the essay makes clear, though, is that the conservative movement is at the point of rupture. Williamson, and the magazine for which he writes, have had little patience for Trump and his politics of resentment. They speak for a conservatism grounded in principle, and are no longer shy about applying it even to loyal Republican voters.
But if copies of National Review find their way to Garbutt, they seem unlikely to persuade the locals of the errors of their ways. The essay calls the invocation of Burkean conservatism in defense of the faded industrial hamlet, an “indulgence of absurd sentimentality;” it points to the overall economic benefits of trade; and it blames health-care costs for the stagnation of wages.
This is not how Trump supporters see the world. They’re strongly attached to their local communities, which have disproportionately borne the costs of free trade, even as its benefits are distributed more broadly and skew toward the top of the income scale. Williamson draws no line between handouts and social insurance, but that distinction is key to ethnocentric white voters, who are both more critical of welfare and more supportive of social insurance than the general public.
Those differences, whatever their merits, are deep-seated and real. They’ve been present for decades—they fueled, for example, Pat Buchanan’s 1992 presidential campaign—but Trump has forced them out into the open in unprecedented fashion. Today, Republican primary voters in five states are headed to the polls, to take sides in that dispute. And whatever the outcome of today’s voting, or of the nominating contest, it seems unlikely that they will easily be patched up again. Writers like Williamson are making it painfully clear how they feel about Trump’s supporters, and neither Trump nor his fans have been shy about returning that favor.
The trouble is that when this election is done, Americans can’t simply take Williamson’s advice—we lack the luxury of packing up in a U-Haul and starting over somewhere else.
It sure looks like the Florida primary could be Marco Rubio's last stand, but the senator is signaling that he'll stay in the race no matter what happens in his home state tonight. “Tomorrow our plan is to be in Utah campaigning irrespective of tonight,” Rubio told a Florida radio station on Tuesday in a clip unearthed by BuzzFeed.
Despite his show of confidence, though, Rubio openly admitted he may not win Florida. “I can't guarantee a win today,” he said, adding: “We expect to win tonight.” So how does he explain the fact that he's trailing Donald Trump in the polls? “All these polls are out of control. They're crazy. They're way out of whack.”
Butterfly ballot, meet ... whatever you call this. Republicans in Ohio are facing a ballot that asks them to vote for president twice—one for an at-large delegate, and one for a delegate in their district. As if that weren’t confusing enough, the pairing dates from when the Buckeye State divided its delegates up proportionally. Starting this year, however, Ohio is a winner-take-all state. But the state never changed a requirement that both be listed. (You can see the ballot here.)
As a result, only the at-large delegates will be counted. “Why give people two options for president if one doesn’t count? I don’t get it,” a conservative advocate complained to the AP. “Beyond that, people are already voting in Ohio. When were they planning to tell people? Do the candidates even know about this? There are a lot of unanswered questions.”
It’s hard to disagree. (There are also several candidates who are no longer running but did not formally withdraw in time who are listed.) Who knows how this might affect voters. Someone who voted in district but not at-large would apparently have wasted a vote. Luckily, at-large is listed first. On Twitter, Trump fans are raising the alarm.
ThinkProgress cites an increase in provisional early primary voting in college towns as evidence that North Carolina's voter ID laws are indeed restricting access to the ballot. The law, which requires an in-state ID for any registered voter who has been in the state for 90 days or more, has a disproportionate impact on college students, many of whom have out-of-state IDs, and on those with no ID at all. The process for receiving a license or suitable ID carries with it a real time and money cost, and some students are being saved by the "reasonable impediment" rule, that states that voters can cast provisional ballots if they have met certain hardships that prevent receipt of a proper ID. The story of Ethelene Douglas, an 85-year-old black woman who had to go through a two-year gantlet in order to vote, showcases the difficulties.
This is important as even more restrictive voter registration and polling rules will be rolled out for the general election. And although turnout in the primaries is not a good predictor of turnout in general elections, the stories of students and of people like Douglas are key to understanding the true impact of voting laws in a world in which the Voting Rights Act is now relatively toothless.
Following up on Nora's point about the importance of Ohio, the state could also be a test of Bernie Sanders's staying power in the Rust Belt. The Sanders campaign was elated after pulling off a major upset by wining the Michigan Democratic primary earlier in the month, and has pointed to the victory as proof that the Vermont Senator's anti-trade deal and populist economic message are resonating with voters. Today, Sanders has a chance to show that the Michigan upset wasn't a fluke. Polls show Sanders faces a steep climb in the Midwestern states of Ohio, Illinois and Missouri, but a strong showing in those contests would help bolster Sanders's pitch that his economic platform appeals to voters in the region.
Ohio will decide today how easy Trump's path to the Republican convention might be. But the presidential primary isn't the only contest of consequence in the state. Ohio's voters will also be choosing a potential replacement for former House Speaker John Boehner, who left Congress in October after repeated battles with the more conservative members of his caucus. There are 15 Republicans running in the 8th District primary. The Cincinnati Enquirer has more on why this race matters: “The GOP primary is crucial because Boehner's district, which includes Butler County, is deeply conservative and considered a safe seat for Republicans, which means the primary winner would be the favorite to win the general election this fall.”
It may be a safe Republican seat, but that doesn't mean that Boehner’s would-be successors are embracing his record. Politico reports that the former speaker has hardly come up on the trail. And while he endorsed Kasich for president over the weekend, he hasn't weighed in on the candidates vying for his former seat.
John Kasich, like many of his fellow Ohioans, is at the polls this morning. The Ohio governor officially cast his ballot in Genoa Township, Ohio. Kasich is in a tight race in the state. Should he emerge as the victor, it’ll give him momentum moving forward in the presidential primary. But if he loses, it might drive him out of the race.
John Kasich casts his vote in Genoa Township, Ohio pic.twitter.com/wZk50jdZpp— Thomas Kaplan (@thomaskaplan) March 15, 2016
Ben Carson is proving to be every bit as predictable and steady a surrogate for Donald Trump as he was a candidate for president. Which is to say: not especially.
In an interview with Newsmax, Carson tried to assure those nervous about Trump by pointing out it’s only a short commitment: “Even if Donald Trump turns out not to be such a great president, which I don't think is the case, I think he's going to surround himself with really good people, but even if he didn't, we're only looking at four years as opposed to multiple generations and perhaps the loss of the American dream forever.”
At another point in the interview, he told Steve Malzberg, “Is there another scenario that I would have preferred? Yes. But that scenario isn’t available.” Malzberg asked, “With one of the other candidates, you mean?” “Yeah,” Carson replied.
As if these tepid endorsements weren’t bad enough, Carson said in the same interview that he’d been tapped for a role in the prospective Trump administration:
Carson: I do believe, and certainly in my discussions with Donald Trump, he does love America and he does want to be successful. And, he will surround himself with very good people.
Steve Malzberg: And will one of them be Dr. Ben Carson?
Carson: I will be doing things as well, yes.
Malzberg: In the administration.
Carson: Uh, certainly in an advisory capacity.
Malzberg: That’s been determined? You’ve, when you sat down with him that was discussed?
Later, Carson added, “We haven’t hammered out all the details … I’m not going to reveal any details about it right now because all of this is still pretty liquid.”
“Advisory” is an important, and opaque, word here. Does that mean some informal role? Or something paid? It’s a violation of federal law to offer someone a job in exchange for a political endorsement:
Whoever, being a candidate, directly or indirectly promises or pledges the appointment, or the use of his influence or support for the appointment of any person to any public or private position or employment, for the purpose of procuring support in his candidacy shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if the violation was willful, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
Carson previously said he was “willing” to be Trump’s running mate if it helped Trump win. Asked about Carson’s remarks, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign said: “As stated by both Mr. Trump and Dr. Carson during Friday's press conference, no role had been promised or even discussed. Both only stated that Dr. Carson will be involved with the campaign going forward.”
The first results of the day are in: Donald Trump has "overwhelmingly" won the North Mariana Islands' GOP caucuses. The U.S. commonwealth, north of Guam in the Pacific Ocean, has nine delegates. The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump was expected to win, since he won the endorsement of the commonwealth's governor late last week. Ted Cruz came in second place, with a particularly strong showing on the island of Tinian. A GOP leader in the territory told the WSJ that “there was some confusion on Tinian about whether Mr. Cruz was related to a senator in the local legislature who has the same last name.”
Hillary Clinton won the commonwealth's Democratic caucuses on Saturday, snagging four delegates to Bernie Sanders’s two.
My colleague Molly Ball went sorting through her enormous stack of spiral-bound notebooks, filled with campaign-trail reporting, to illustrate the profound sense of grievance that many Trump supporters are eager to share. At its root, she writes, is anger at perceived double standards—that racial minorities are able to do things that white people are not:
“Democrats won’t renounce hate groups like Black Lives Matter, which are just as extreme on the other side as the Klan,” Randy Lawson, a 48-year-old business owner in Moulton, Alabama, told me.
“The Black Panthers stood outside voting booths and turned people away and the administration didn't prosecute them,” said Clayton Burns, who owns a timber company in Tifton, Georgia. “For Barack Obama to side with the Black Panthers would be like my president siding with the KKK. The outspoken racial groups, the media doesn't ask Hillary or Bernie to disavow them.”
John Kasich’s political fortunes appear to be rising as swiftly as Marco Rubio’s are declining. Kasich is the sitting governor of Ohio, where his own popularity and a rebounding economy have helped him hold Donald Trump at bay. The two are tied in the polls, leaving the outcome of Tuesday’s race very much in doubt. Meanwhile Rubio, the junior senator from Florida, trails far behind Donald Trump in his own home state. Unless he can pull off an improbable upset, the sun may set on his once-promising candidacy.
Both states feature winner-take-all primaries; the candidate with the most votes will walk away with all 66 delegates in Ohio, and all 99 in Florida. If Trump takes both contests, he’ll be on track to secure a clear majority before the Republican National Convention. If he loses either, that becomes substantially less likely. And if he loses both, it becomes all but impossible. Voters also head to the polls in Illinois, North Carolina, and Missouri.
The same five states are holding Democratic contests today. Bernie Sanders is looking to repeat his stunning upset in Michigan a week ago, where he made inroads with black voters and garnered support from blue-collar whites, adding those groups to his more typical coalition of very young and very liberal voters. His best shots are probably Illinois, where recent polls show him in a very tight race, and Ohio, where the margin is wider but narrowing. Clinton will count on running up enormous margins in the Southern contests—North Carolina, Missouri, and Florida—to continue to widen her substantial lead in pledged delegates, even if one or both Midwestern states slip away.
The day’s voting kicked off in Florida, where polls opened at 7 a.m. Eastern. But these elections have actually been underway since February 17, when Ohio and Illinois opened precinct doors for early voting. By Monday evening, more than 400,000 ballots had been cast in Ohio, 710,260 in North Carolina, and over 2 million early and absentee votes returned in Florida. Those numbers reflect extraordinary interest in both races, but also a challenge for candidates like Kasich and Sanders who’ve enjoyed late surges—many of the votes they need were cast before they hit the peak of their popularity.
Follow along with us throughout the day, as we bring you reports from the primaries and caucuses, and vote tallies as they become available. Read up on the race with our 2016 Distilled election dashboard, find out more about the candidates by using our 2016 Cheat Sheet.