What should we make of Super Tuesday?
First, it really wasn’t all that super, even for the winners. And it certainly wasn’t super for anyone trying to gauge trends or momentum or figure out which way to turn.
Donald Trump “won” Republican primaries or caucuses in seven states. But it’s beginning to feel as if The Donald’s power of attraction is waning, not growing. He came in second in two states and a distant third in Minnesota. Worse, he has yet to get 50 percent of any state’s votes and only a third of all the Republican votes cast in all the primaries combined. That’s not huge. It’s not super. And it’s certainly not a mandate.
Still, Trump terrifies many establishment Republicans; they fear a Trump candidacy will fail but also permanently drive away Latinos, Muslims, African Americans and other groups he has insulted and angered. That includes, apparently, some establishment Republicans who just can’t stomach his glib hucksterism.
Some want to coalesce behind a single candidate to stop him, but it’s likely too late. Others want the remaining candidates to stay in the race and continue splintering the vote. That might deprive Trump of the 1,247 delegates needed to claim the nomination. With no winner, those establishment thinkers could turn to Mitt Romney or John Kasich or someone else to save the party. Of course, that risks angering the 34 percent of Republicans who have supported The Donald.
The above scenario might be the only reason Marco Rubio won’t give up and go away. He won his first primary Tuesday; whoopee, he’s now 1-14. All last week, Rubio tried to change his tone during campaign speeches, out-insulting Trump. But his jabs bordered on juvenile, and he fell below 20 percent in five of 11 races.
Ted Cruz won three primaries, including his home state of Texas, Oklahoma next door and far-away Alaska. He also tied Rubio for second in Georgia. Does this help him? Not enough to matter.
Turning to the Democrats, Bernie Sanders won four states, giving him five victories so far. But he lost Massachusetts, a state he expected to win. Worse, he polled only 28 percent of all voters in Georgia, and less than a third in Tennessee, Alaska, Arkansas and Texas. Bad numbers.
Still, his win in Minnesota provided some perspective to Rubio’s performance there. Sanders got 118,135 votes in Minnesota; Rubio had only 41,126. In fact, adding up all four of the top Republicans in Minnesota, Bernie beat them all combined.
That brings us to Hillary Clinton. She seems to be plodding along, winning seven contests and accumulating more delegates. She’s looking more inevitable. But has she inspired anyone? Instead of charging into the voting booth, many appear to approach it as a duty. Yes, they’re voting for her … because they must.
Super Tuesday has come and gone. If this trajectory continues, we’ll be faced with more anger, more vitriol and less enthusiasm in November. Nothing super about that.