If Marco Rubio does not get out now, and his conservative supporters do not switch allegiance to Ted Cruz, it will be in no small part their fault if Donald Trump gets nominated.
The results of March 8 Republican presidential primaries in Michigan, Mississippi, Idaho, and Hawaii are in, with big consequences for the race ahead. Donald Trump won three of the four primaries (losing Idaho to Ted Cruz), including the two biggest prizes, Michigan and Mississippi. He captured almost half of the available delegates (73 out of 150, or 48.7 percent), with Cruz capturing two-fifths (59, or 39.3 percent), John Kasich one-tenth (17, all from Michigan, or 11.3 percent), and Marco Rubio less than one-hundredth (1, or 0.7 percent).
In terms of the total vote (1,862,115, discounting Hawaii’s caucus vote), Trump garnered 39.5 percent (734,790), Cruz 30.9 percent (575,767), Kasich 20 percent (372,504, 86 percent of which was from Michigan), and Rubio 9.6 percent (179,054). What are the consequences of these results?
Marco Rubio Is Toast
First and foremost, as painful as it is for Rubio supporters to hear, he’s finished. This is the biggest news of the evening. He had another terrible performance tonight. He will get no delegates from Michigan (9.3 percent) and Mississippi (5.1 percent), each of which has a delegate threshold of 15 percent. Nor will he get a single delegate from Idaho, despite his 15.9 percent performance, because Idaho has a higher threshold of 20 percent.
He will get one delegate from Hawaii for his distant third-place showing in Hawaii (13.1 percent). His showing in Mississippi was particularly dismal. Just two weeks ago he polled at 16 percent. Michigan too, the Rubio camp told us, was the kind of state Rubio would do well in, as opposed to Cruz. That prediction never materialized.
It doesn’t even matter at this point whether Rubio could eke out a narrow victory in his home state of Florida, which at any rate is now even more unlikely than it was before today’s voting. If Rubio does not now get out, and his conservative supporters do not switch allegiance to Cruz, it will be in no small part their fault if Trump (or Kasich) gets nominated.
Rubio should have bowed out after Saturday; yea, before Saturday. Had Rubio not been in the race last Saturday, Cruz would have had a four-state sweep (he lost Kentucky and Louisiana by only 4 points each). Had Rubio not been in the race Tuesday, Cruz would have picked up most of Rubio’s votes in Idaho and easily surpassed its 50 percent threshold to win all 32 delegates there (as it was, Cruz got 45.4 percent of the vote).
Rubio has become an albatross around the neck of conservative hopes. Talk of a brokered convention in which Rubio might have a shot at supplanting Cruz as the sole option to Trump now looks like pure fantasy.
Kasich Is Another Spoiler
Second, Kasich, after a close third-place finish in Michigan, has emerged as Cruz’s chief non-Trump rival, primarily by process of attrition. He far exceeded expectations for Michigan that existed several weeks ago. But one should not go overboard here. Even in Michigan, which is supposed to be Kasich territory and anything-but-Cruz territory, Cruz beat Kasich. Narrowly, albeit (24.9 percent to 24.3 percent), but Cruz still finished ahead.
Four Michigan polls published in the last week indicated on average that Kasich would finish 1 to 6 points ahead of Cruz; one even put Kasich a few points ahead of Trump in first place. It didn’t happen. And Kasich was no factor in Mississippi (8.8 percent), Idaho (7.4 percent), and Hawaii (10.6 percent). Kasich has yet to win a primary, let alone one with a resounding victory. Other than possibly Ohio, it is questionable whether Kasich can win any remaining primary or caucus.
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