Trump wins in South Carolina with Rubio second; Clinton overcomes Sanders’ challenge in Nevada

By Dave Andrusko

Donald TrumpSuch is the accelerated nature of the nominating process that no sooner had Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton prevailed in the South Carolina primary and Nevada caucuses, respectively, than all eyes turned to “Super Tuesday.”

To be sure Republicans hold their Nevada caucuses tomorrow and Democrats their South Carolina primary Saturday, February 27 but for now Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton seem to have such commanding leads most attention is focusing on March 1.

On Super Tuesday, 11 states (12 for the GOP) hold their nominating contests (mostly primaries). It’s also called the “SEC” primary [for Southern Eastern Conference] because seven of the 11 states are in the South.

Everyone has their takeaways–few or many–from the recently concluded battle in South Carolina.

First there are the two winners. Although he received fewer votes than predicted by a slew of polls, Mr. Trump did carry the day in the Palmetto state, winning 32.5%.

By contrast, in a photo-finish, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who had not done well in the pre-election polls until the final few days, edged Texas Sen. Ted Cruz by 2/10ths of a percentage point for second place.

After finishing a disappointing (and distant fourth), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush dropped out. As of today both Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who finished fifth and sixth, say they are on to Super Tuesday.

Sen. Marco Rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio

Politically, Sen. Rubio, as many commentators ruefully acknowledged Saturday, had been given up for dead after a hugely disappointing fifth place finish in New Hampshire. Instead he roared back, assisted by endorsements from the state’s hugely popular junior Senator Tim Scott and equally popular Gov. Nikki Haley.

Mrs. Clinton prevailed in Nevada over Democratic Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, 53% to 47%. She was carried along by a tidal wave of support from African Americans and by essentially splitting the Hispanic vote with Mr. Sanders. But there was more to it.

In a story first broke by the New York Times, we learned that Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Minority Leader, placed a call to the head of the parent of the Culinary Workers Union local in Las Vegas which had not endorsed either candidate. Employee turnout at six casino sites on the Las Vegas Strip had been expected to be minimal but that quickly changed after the call to D. Taylor. But there’s more.

Pro-abortion Hillary Clinton

Pro-abortion Hillary Clinton

According to Jon Ralston of the Reno Gazette -Journal

But Reid did not stop there. He also called casino executives, Democratic insiders confirm, with a simple message: “Let your people go.”

That is, he wanted to ensure the workers would be allowed time off from work to caucus. No one said no to Prince Harry.

What else? Mr. Trump, as is his wont, mixed it up with everyone from his Republican rivals to the Pope. He won by ten points anyway.

Everyone is guessing where Gov. Bush’s supporters will migrate. The New York Times did an interesting breakdown, comparing the self-identified characteristics of Bush supporters with the characteristics of those who support Sens. Rubio and Cruz, Gov. Kasich, Dr. Carson, and Mr. Trump.

We’ll know a lot more come March 1.

In the meanwhile we can be sure of one thing. The political picture will change like a kaleidoscope with each unexpected turn of fortunes.

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