Was there anyone who did not expect Trump and Clinton to be the leading winners of the night?
If there was – if you’re out there somewhere – you might want to check your premises, as they say. (It’s worth noting, of course, that Bernie Sanders has scooped up Colorado and Oklahoma as well as Vermont and Minnesota, and Ted Cruz got Oklahoma as well as his home state of Texas. More on that below.)
Trump, breaking the chains
As I type, Trump is on the tube at his press conference, telling us – in exactly this many words – that radical Islamic terrorism is a big, big problem. You know why Trump supporters don’t think that’s a banal, kind of stupid thing to say? Because of what’s so obvious you probably missed it: Trump called it radical Islamic terrorism, and he actually addressed it in those terms as if it’s a real problem, one closely connected to unchecked migration.
That’s what it is. What a ridiculously simple observation. And yet there exists an entire alternate universe in which most leading politicians won’t say that, for fear of annoying media pundits and offending grievance groups.
Millions of voters think that alternate universe is trying to get us all killed.
Trump doesn’t have to express himself in terms of policy specifics. (Although he did add – I heard him just now – that the Gulf states are going to have to pay the cost of fighting radical Islamic terrorism. He’s going to make them pay for it. No word on how.)
Trump has won his base by vaulting over the heads of the P.C. gatekeepers and saying things like “radical Islamic terrorism is a big, big problem.” (Without burying the point in a hedge of references to all kinds of other “extremism,” as if there’s any other kind that Americans have to wake up worrying about in the morning.)
Trump is going to weather the David Duke/KKK kerfuffle too, not because Americans are a bunch of racists, but because Trump voters simply refuse to let the media shape their expectations and responses anymore.
Anybody can set up a “gotcha” moment. How about an Al-Qaeda-linked Sudanese Islamofascist endorsing Barack Obama in 2012? (Or the former chairman of the Communist Party USA endorsing Hillary Clinton last month.)
But, of course, the mainstream media never set up that “gotcha” moment. And where has it gotten us to let the media dictate the frameworks and outcomes of these moments? It’s gotten us where we are today. The voters are right about that. It’s suicidal, for people who want an America of liberty and opportunity, to keep letting the media shut down all the voices on one side of the political spectrum.
The voters are rewarding Trump in large part because his imperviousness to the media’s usual tricks is what has enabled us to have the public dialogue we’re having in this election cycle. In that sense, he has done what no other candidate could have done. And it’s an important thing for America’s future. The ability to break out of our sticky web of constrained speech and medieval-style idea-boundaries is essential to moving forward. Trump is the reason we can see light at the end of that dark tunnel, not because he’s an idea guy but because he’s a no-fear guy.
I observe, once again, that Trump is not my candidate; but – contra the spirit of the times – that doesn’t mean I have to bad-mouth him and engage in a snarling and spitting ritual whenever I refer to him. Give the guy his due.
I don’t know where all this is going. I do know we’ve reached a somewhat entertaining impasse, one at which the data-brokers and political operatives can predict what’s going to happen on polling day six ways to Sunday, but they just can’t shape it this time. We all knew Trump was going to be tonight’s big winner. The pre-Super Tuesday polling has been vindicated. The exit polls from today got it right. But danged if the politicos can turn data-management into voter-management. They’re not in charge, this time around.
The parade of maps and facts
For the record, Marco Rubio has finally gotten a win, assuming Fox’s call for him in the Minnesota caucuses holds up. He’s ahead there with 38% of the vote, and just under 80% of it tallied. Cruz is running second.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 2, 2016
Trump has won Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Cruz, of course, won Texas and Oklahoma.
With a strong second place finish in Virginia – an increasingly unrepresentative “Southern” state – Rubio will have all the argument he needs to stay in the race through the Florida primary on 15 March.
I have my doubts about a 50% finish for Cruz in Texas, but it’s still possible, with only 40% of the vote tallied statewide. Cruz comes out as the overall second-place finisher for the GOP on Super Tuesday, however.
The delegate count won’t be firmed up until all the results are in, and the vote percentages for each candidate are certain. Right now (according to Karl Rove) it looks like Trump will get at least 280-odd delegates. Kasich is still in a real contest with Trump in Vermont, but of course hardly any of the country is like Vermont or New Hampshire. Winning there isn’t a ticket to anything bigger these days. (Note: Fox just called Vermont for Trump, seconds before this went to post.)
On the Democratic side, Hillary bagged Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
Massachusetts is still considered too close to call by some news outlets. Fox called it some time ago for Clinton. She’s ahead 50-48% there, with 87% of the vote counted.
Sanders, as mentioned, picked up Colorado, Minnesota, and Oklahoma, as well as Vermont. His victories are much narrower than Hillary’s. She shwacked him, as expected, across the South, continuing the pattern begun over the weekend in South Carolina. (Oklahoma being an outlier, if we call it part of the South. It’s a Great Plains-South hybrid, politically.)
Clinton is cruising with 720-some delegates as of the current vote tallies. In spite of Bernie’s surge, his delegate count (about one-fifth of Hillary’s) won’t get him to Philadelphia with any realistic prospects.
Alaska’s polls are about to close as this goes to post.