Super Tuesday: GOP polls vs results

by John English
by John English

Super Tuesday has come and gone so let’s look at the results, comparing most recent poll/polls average to actual result.

Alabama
Poll (3): Trump 38, Rubio 20.3, Cruz 14.7
Result: Trump 43.4, Cruz 21.1, Rubio 18.7

Alaska
Poll (1): Trump 28, Cruz 24, Rubio 7
Result: Cruz 36.4, Trump 33.5, Rubio 15

Arkansas
Poll (1): Cruz 27, Trump 23, Rubio 23
Result: Trump 32.7, Cruz 30.5, Rubio 25

Georgia
Poll (4): Trump 37.8, Rubio 22.3, Cruz 22
Result: Trump 38.8, Rubio 24.5, Cruz 23.6

Massachusetts
Poll (3): Trump 47, Rubio 18.3, Kasich 14
Result: Trump 49, Kasich 18.1, Rubio 17.9

Minnesota
Poll (1): Rubio 23, Cruz 21, Trump 18
Result: Rubio 36.8, Cruz 28.9, Trump 21.2

Oklahoma
Poll (3): Trump 32.7, Rubio 21.7, Cruz 20
Result: Cruz 34.4, Trump 28.3, Rubio 26

Tennessee
Poll (1): Trump 40, Cruz 22, Rubio 19
Result: Trump 38.9, Cruz 24.7, Rubio 21.2

Texas
Poll (4): Cruz 36.5, Trump 30, Rubio 17.8
Result: Cruz 43.8, Trump 26.8, Rubio 17.7

Vermont
Poll (1): Trump 32, Rubio 17, Cruz 11
Result: Trump 32.7, Kasich 30.4, Rubio 19.3

Virginia
Poll (3): Trump 39.7, Rubio 22.3, Cruz 17
Result: Trump 34.7, Rubio 31.9, Cruz 16.9

Cruz won his home state. Rubio (Florida) and Kasich (Ohio) wait until March 15 for their home states to have their say. Trump (New York) won’t have their home-state elections until April.

Notice that Ben Carson did not finish in the top 3 in a single state, nor did he finish in the top 3 in the four states that had voted earlier. Sounds like he finally decided to drop out. That probably helps Ted Cruz more than anyone one else.

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Within the next week, another eight states and a territory will have their say. March 5 will feature Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Maine. March 6 will feature Puerto Rico. Then Tuesday March 8 will have Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, and Mississippi. That’s another 328 delegates to be distributed.

Weirdly, with the hunger for more and more polls, these nine locations have had very little polling. Mississippi hasn’t been polled since August. Kansas and Louisiana haven’t been polled since September. Maine hasn’t been polled since November. Kentucky’s most recent poll was before the Rubio-Cruz tag-team debate. (Trump 35, Rubio 22, Cruz 15). I can’t find any polls for Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Idaho.

Donald Trump has a double-digit lead in Michigan, but Rubio and Kasich are campaigning hard there.

Now Trump has 25% of the delegates that he needs to secure the nomination. If all of the states were proportional, at this pace, he wouldn’t get there. From March 15 on, however, states like Florida (99), Missouri (52), and Ohio (66) are winner-take-all. Between now and then, #NeverTrump forces are uniting, and there will be millions of dollars of ad-buys throughout the country geared to buoy Rubio or Cruz or Kasich and take down Donald Trump.

Trump is still the likely nominee.  If the main hope of the Republican Party is to beat Hillary Clinton, poll after poll shows Trump is the worst man for the job. The only person with higher unfavorables than Clinton is Trump. Then again, if the main goal of the Democratic Party was to beat the Republican nominee, the same polls show Bernie Sanders should be their guy, but Clinton has their election all but sewn up.

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After Super Tuesday in 2008, the first Tuesday in February, the GOP coalesced their support around the frontrunner. In 2008, 22 states had had their say after Super Tuesday, and John McCain had 707 delegates, over 60% of what he needed. The man in second place – Mitt Romney – dropped out with 271 delegates and endorsed McCain. Huckabee would hang around another month until McCain crossed the 1237-delegate threshold on March 4. By then Huckabee had acquired 275 delegates and would claim he came in second. The dynamic of 2008 was of McCain and Huckabee tag-teaming Romney until he dropped out, then Romney getting behind McCain for the good of the party.

Before Super Tuesday in 2012, 13 states’d had their say. After Super Tuesday that number was 23, and Romney had won 14 of those states for a total of 415 delegates.  2012 bears more resemblance to now than 2008. In 2012, the second-place candidate – Rick Santorum – didn’t drop out until April, but once he did, Romney vacuumed up about 90% of the remaining delegates, to the chagrin of Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. Gingrich finally dropped out in May, and Romney clinched the nomination in the first week of June.

As much animosity as there was between Romney and Gingrich, in the end, there was this “for the good of the party” message before convention.

In 2016, I don’t see that happening. I don’t see the rank-and-file lining up to support front-runner Donald Trump “for the good of the party.” Why? Because they know Trump would be disastrous for the party. This is the first “reality TV” election, where a portions like Trump because he’s entertaining. Another portion likes his business acumen. Another portion likes his nativist, nationalist rhetoric. But his moral bankruptcy disqualifies him.

This is also a year where the man currently in second place – Ted Cruz – is not having his colleagues move to his column because he has worked very hard since his first day in the Senate to be loved by the Tea Party and despised by his co-workers. Not just by Democrats – that’s a badge of honor in a campaign – but by Republicans. Not just the “squishy moderate” Republicans, but all of them.

And so the man who has collected the most endorsements is Marco Rubio. He may not have been everyone’s first choice, but he seems to be the most acceptable choice. He has a better argument than Cruz or Kasich going forward. Most of the southern evangelical states have voted, and most of them went to Trump. As more and more states from the midwest and west speak, the map gets friendlier for Rubio.

I see this ending one of two ways, barring some major global event. Either Trump does manage to squeak to 1237 delegates, or we go to a contested convention. Say Trump has 900, Cruz and Rubio have about 1300 between them, Kasich has 150, and the rest are unbound. First ballot, the delegates go to who they’re pledged to, but second ballot, now the delegates can move around. Kasich could throw his delegates to someone. Some Trump delegates might be disillusioned and back off. Maybe Rubio says to Cruz, “I will nominate you for the Supreme Court.” There would be ever-so-much jockeying for position.

If it goes to a contested convention, and Trump doesn’t get the nomination, would he run as a third-party candidate? Absolutely. The next three months are merely about whether Trump will have an (R) next to his name in November, or an (I).

The debate tomorrow (March 3) should be fun.


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