Winners & Losers From Super Tuesday 3.0

Winners & Losers From Super Tuesday 3.0
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The book is now closed on the most pivotal moment in the 2016 race to date. Here are the winners and losers from Tuesday night’s primaries.

WINNERS

John Kasich: Against all odds, Kasich managed to outlast every other governor in the field. And despite going six weeks into the primary calendar without winning a single contest, Kasich solidified his position Tuesday night as the last remaining “establishment” alternative with a decisive 10-point victory over Donald Trump in his home state of Ohio. He still has almost no possibility of winning the nomination without a contested convention, but this win allows him to keep marching forward, picking up delegates and hoping for a July miracle in Cleveland.

Donald Trump: Losing Ohio was a potential setback in his quest to accumulate the required 1,237 delegates to clinch a first-ballot nomination, but it’s hard to see how winning four out of five contests Tuesday – including a dominant winner-take-all victory in Florida worth 99 delegates and assuming his razor-thin margin in Missouri survives a possible recount – is anything but another success for the GOP front-runner. Trump was expected to finish the night with close to 700 delegates, and will head into another contest next week – Arizona, with 58 winner-take-all delegates at stake – that will likely expand his lead even further. The map in April also sets up favorably for Trump, and if he’s able to continue winning 40-46 percent of the vote (as he did Tuesday night) or more in a three-way race, he will have a decent shot at arriving in Cleveland as the certain Republican nominee.

Hillary Clinton: Rocked by the upset in Michigan last week, Hillaryland was bracing for the possibility of another tough night – particularly in the Midwest. Didn’t happen. She won convincingly in Florida (+31 points), North Carolina (+14), Ohio (+13), and was expected to narrowly avoid an upset in her home state of Illinois. Though her race with Bernie Sanders in Missouri was officially too close to call, she held a 1,531-vote edge with 100 percent of precincts reporting. But even with a loss there she will expand her lead by more than 100 delegates. Sanders won’t be going away any time soon, but Tuesday’s wins were substantial enough to allow her to pivot once and for all toward the general election.

LOSERS

Marco Rubio: Christened by Time magazine just three years ago as “The Republican Savior,” 2016 was a humbling experience for Florida’s 44-year-old freshman senator. From being spanked by Chris Christie in the New Hampshire debate as a pre-programmed robot to being derided mercilessly by Donald Trump as “Little Marco,” Rubio never found his footing. His ground game proved too weak, his participation in the Gang of Eight and his message of optimism were ill fitted to the nasty mood of the electorate. Worse still, a frustrated Rubio descended into the gutter, trading insult for insult with Trump – a move that ended up hurting Rubio more than it did Trump. Despite the kind words Tuesday night from Trump, Kasich, and others about Rubio’s bright future, the 19-point home-state drubbing leaves his prospects for further elective office in doubt.

Neo-conservatives: As Michael Crowley of Politico put it in a tweet after Rubio announced he was suspending his campaign, “the neocons now lack a candidate who speaks their language.” Rubio was the lone remaining candidate arguing for a return to the robust, interventionist foreign policy that was ascendant during George W. Bush’s presidency. The likely GOP nominee has expressed no interest in intervening in Syria and openly repudiates the Iraq war as a “disaster.” As Juan Williams noted in his column this week, this will make for a most interesting discussion in a general election between Trump and Clinton.

Breitbart News: The week began with allegations by Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields – corroborated by Ben Terris of the Washington Post – that she’d been grabbed violently by Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. The week ended with Breitbart in disarray, beset by the resignations of Fields, editor-at-large Ben Shapiro and four others over its handling of the matter, and Lewandowski standing on stage chuckling as Donald Trump described reporters in the room covering his victory speech as “disgusting people.”

Tom Bevan is the Co-Founder & Publisher of RealClearPolitics and the co-author of Election 2012: A Time for Choosing. Email: tom@realclearpolitics.com, Twitter: @TomBevanRCP

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