The U.S. presidential hopefuls faced their biggest test during Super Tuesday on March 1.
The results, following elections in 12 states and one territory, cemented Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton as frontrunners for their respective parties.
The billionaire real estate tycoon won primaries in Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Virginia, Arkansas and Vermont, while the former secretary of state came out on top in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Arkansas, Texas and Massachusetts.
Kyle Kondik, political expert at University of Virginia Center for Politics, and Fletcher McClellan, professor of political science at Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania explain what impact the Super Tuesday results have on the race for the White House.
Kyle Kondik, political expert at University of Virginia Center for Politics:
What have we learned from Super Tuesday?
– Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump went in to Super Tuesday favored to be their respective party nominees. Nothing that happened changed that. Both Clinton and Trump won the bulk of the states contested and they added to their lead in delegates.
Does a Clinton-Trump presidential race look even more likely?
– Probably. Clinton is a very big favorite for the Democratic nomination. Trump is leading but he’s also not a sure thing because he has so divided the Republican Party.
Who are the biggest losers?
– Bernie Sanders continues to fall further behind Hillary Clinton, and while he did win some states, losing Massachusetts — a state that’s part of his northeastern base where he needed to do well — had to have been a blow...And despite doing well in the Northeast, John Kasich finished behind Carson in several states. Marco Rubio finally won a state, but he fell short of winning delegates in Alabama, Texas, and Vermont because he didn’t win a high enough share of the vote.
Does Bernie Sanders have a chance to compete with Clinton after Super Tuesday?
– Sanders has plenty of money and his disproportionately youthful backers are very enthusiastic. So he can continue to campaign for as long as he wants, accumulating delegates and influence at the convention in shaping the platform. But the nomination is out of reach, just as it probably has been all along.
Speaking in Texas, Cruz urged other Republicans to quit the race and join him against Mr Trump. Is this a possible scenario?
– Not as yet. It seems likely that Marco Rubio and John Kasich will stay in until at least March 15, when their home states of Florida and Ohio vote. Cruz held up on his home turf. Now we’ll see if the others can. Perhaps an alliance of Rubio, Cruz, and Kasich can prevent Trump from winning a majority of delegates and pushing this race to the convention in Cleveland, which would be chaos.
Trump gave a press conference, where he pledged to be a unifying, diplomatic voice. Is he really a unifier, in your opinion?
– There’s no such thing as a unifier in American politics, and even if there were, it wouldn’t be someone like Trump. A substantial majority of Americans dislike Trump, and he’s a polarizing figure even in his own party. And he has said so many outrageous and offensive things that he will continue to be an incredibly divisive candidate.
What can we expect in the future?
– This is the heart of the primary season. There are many contests in the first half of March, culminating in a second Super Tuesday on March 15, when five major states vote — Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio. The other candidates need to deny Trump victories on March 15 or he might have an even clearer path to the nomination.
Fletcher McClellan, professor of political science at Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania:
What are the lessons from Super Tuesday?
– Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have emerged as the clear front-runners for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations, respectively. Both candidates have substantial leads in the delegate count. Unless the probe of Clinton’s emails yields charges of criminal activity, she is well on the way toward the nomination. Trump still has work to do, but as long as two or three opponents remain in the race, he is in a position to steamroll through the next two weeks of primaries and caucuses.
What do the results mean for the rest of the U.S. and for the world?
– Super Tuesday signals trends in the presidential race, but the picture won’t become crystal clear until March 15, when Florida and Ohio hold winner-take-all primaries. Trump has a chance to effectively eliminate Senator Rubio and Governor Kasich by winning in their respective home states. He was unable to defeat Senator Cruz in his home state of Texas last night, so Cruz remains in the race for now.
How was the performance of Sanders?
Senator Sanders was unable to crack the Clinton firewall in the South. He has fared especially poorly with African-American voters. His loss in Massachusetts, one of the most liberal states in the U.S. and a neighbor to his home state of Vermont, was devastating. Unless he can broaden his appeal beyond young, white, college-educated voters, he will lose the upcoming primaries in large, diverse states such as Florida.
Could he stay in the race?
– Sanders can stay in the race. He won four states on Super Tuesday in different regions of the country —Vermont, Colorado, Minnesota and Oklahoma — so he can claim continued success. There will be a few opportunities for him to win down the road, especially in caucus states. He is still raising a lot of money. I expect him to continue until he is mathematically eliminated from the race, turning his attention from winning the nomination to spreading his message as far and wide as he can.
What about Rubio?
– Senator Rubio won his first delegate selection contest last night (the Minnesota caucus), he is running out of time. Not only did he finish third in many Super Tuesday events, he was unable to get over 20 percent of the votes in some states, which means he will get no delegates from states such as Texas.
Is Trump on his way to wining the Republican nomination?
– There is genuine concern among Republican leaders that Trump will lead the party to an electoral disaster in November. He has gone out of his way to denigrate or marginalize women, Latinos, Muslims and the disabled, and he has been wishy-washy in denouncing white supremacist groups. Conservative hard-liners don’t think he is conservative enough. Many question whether he has the temperament to be commander-in-chief. We have yet to see serious examinations of his record as a businessman. Some Republican leaders, such as Senator Sasse of Nebraska, are declaring that they will not support Trump if he is nominated and are calling for the organization of a third-party. That said, I do believe that most Republican voters will fall in line behind Trump, if for no other reason than they are frightened of a Hillary Clinton presidency.
– Over the next week, there are contests in Louisiana, Kentucky and Mississippi, which should be good news for Trump and Cruz. The next big state is Michigan, which will vote on March 8. This will be a test for Trump’s challengers, especially Kasich, who has focused on his neighboring state, and Rubio, whose claim to being the most electable Republican candidate is being sorely tested.
– By Dmitry Belyaev