Notes from the primaries: Last chance to stop Trump?

Super Tuesday two will indicate whether Clinton and Trump are weathering challenges or being weakened by them.


Both parties face meaningful elections today, the second Super Tuesday of the 2016 race for president. Five big states vote – Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio.

The polls are close in enough states that we really don’t know what is going to happen. And after polls missed so badly last Tuesday in Michigan, it would be wise to question whether inexpensive polls of large states can accurately capture a volatile and unpredictable election every time.

Having said that, the likely outcome is that Trump and Clinton win enough delegates to keep the march to their nominations on track. The big questions: can Sanders replicate his big Michigan win, and prevail in the Midwestern states of Illinois, Missouri and Ohio to offset Clinton’s likely wins in Florida and North Carolina? And can anyone defeat Trump outside of Ohio?

A lot of the spin tonight will depend on how many states Clinton and Trump win, and whether it appears they are weathering their challenges, or being weakened by them.

As we gather to watch the results come in, we’ll be keeping two stats from Sanders’ Michigan win in mind: he won the white vote 57/42, and received 30 per cent of the African-American vote. If he can keep those margins in the coming states, he will do well tonight. If not, will be a good night for Clinton.

Successful Insurgents

Regardless of what happens tonight, we have to take a moment to reflect on the success of the three insurgent newcomers to the national political stage – Cruz, Sanders and Trump. Running for president is no easy thing, and for the three of them – with very limited national political experience – to get this far against experienced and talented opponents has been remarkable to see.

To me it speaks to the power of the ‘system is broken’ narrative that each of them are carrying in their own way this election. It’s a narrative so powerful that it is propelling these candidates far beyond where anyone believed they would go. I’ve discussed the need for Clinton to adopt a more direct narrative around this sentiment, and have several quotes addressing the issue in Ryan Lizza’s thoughtful new piece in the New Yorker.

The loss of faith in establishment politics here in the US is very similar to what we are seeing in Europe today. Is it a crisis of the ‘West’ itself: an end to 20th century politics here and in Europe? Is it something passing or something grave?

Commentators here and in Europe should be spending more time exploring the similarities of what we are experiencing today, as indeed the challenges appear to be similar in scope and scale.

new piece by the very able Alex Seitz-Wald of MSNBC reminds us that none of the remaining four leading candidates for US President support the Trans-Pacific Parternship, an ominous sign for the global order indeed.

More on the 2016 Election

  • Our tally of the Presidential primary debates audiences, which finds the GOP far outperforming the Democrats
  • Why it is time to take Trump seriously
  • Clinton should become a champion of political and electoral reform
  • My in-depth interview with conservative author Matt Lewis on what the GOP can learn from a generation of reform and success on the center-left
  • My long form magazine piece on the descent of the GOP into a reactionary mess, anticipating the rise of Trump

Simon Rosenberg is the founder of the think tank NDN/NPI. In the run up to the US election Left Foot Forward is reposting his weekly analysis of the campaign trail as a UK exclusive. You can find previous columns here

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