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As the Super Tuesday dust settles, what happens next?

Republican and Democratic voters went to the polls today in what is known as Super Tuesday.

Larry Donnelly Law lecturer, NUI Galway

THE MUCH HERALDED Super Tuesday caucuses and primaries for 2016 are now in the history books.

Democratic and Republican voters had their say on 1 March in locales as diverse as Vermont in the northeast, Alabama in the heart of the deep south, American Samoa in the South Pacific Ocean and even in the Global Primary held here in Dublin and in other countries for registered Democrats living abroad.

Delegates and Delegate Maths (at least partially) Explained

On Tuesday, 595 Republican delegates were available to the five remaining candidates (1,237 are needed to win the GOP presidential nomination) and around 1,000 were being sought on the Democratic side (2,383 are required to be the party’s standard bearer in November).

In the majority of jurisdictions, the delegates are awarded by complex and varied formulae in rough proportion to each candidate’s share of the popular vote there.

Some states on the Republican side employ the “winner take all” method, i.e., the candidate who gets the most votes wins all of the delegates, but there won’t be any of these until 15 March.

These delegates will eventually be individuals who will attend their party’s respective conventions this summer. At the conventions, they will cast their ballots for candidates in accordance with the outcome of the vote where they live and the applicable rules of their party.

On the Democratic side, there are also more than 700 “super-delegates” – party leaders, past and present – who can support whichever candidate they choose at their convention, regardless of the popular vote.

Source: Associated Press/YouTube

The Results

As this Super Tuesday approached, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were the frontrunners for the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively. Both candidates copper-fastened their status and it is very likely that they will be the nominees.

What exactly happened yesterday and what lies ahead?

On the Democratic side, it would appear as though Hillary Clinton has righted the ship after an early crushing loss to Senator Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire.

Following her nearly 74%-26% rout of Senator Sanders in South Carolina, Ms. Clinton prevailed in all six southern states that voted, as well as in Massachusetts. Senator Sanders won his home state of Vermont, and Colorado, Minnesota and Oklahoma.

As for the Republicans, Donald Trump demonstrated tremendous strength by winning states as politically and culturally diverse as Alabama and Massachusetts. He triumphed in four other southern states and in Vermont.

Senator Ted Cruz, unsurprisingly, had solid victories in his home state of Texas and in neighbouring Oklahoma. He eked out a win over Trump in Alaska.

Meanwhile, Senator Marco Rubio took Minnesota.

Source: CNN/YouTube

The Longer Term Picture

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton now has a substantial lead when taking into account those “super-delegates” who have pledged to support her at the convention. She has over 1,000 delegates in her corner currently; Senator Sanders has approximately 420.

Crucially, she has absolutely dominated when it comes to two of the Democratic Party’s core constituencies: African Americans and Latinos. She won more than 90% of the black vote in a number of states on Tuesday; she won the Hispanic vote in Texas by more than 40%. These are extremely encouraging figures for some of the states whose primaries/caucuses are still to come.

Moreover, according to Nate Cohn of the New York Times, she seems to have won 54%-44% in counties across the states that voted on Super Tuesday and have a majority of white adult citizens (leaving aside Vermont). These are decisive numbers. The numbers don’t lie. It will take a minor miracle for Clinton to be denied the nomination.

That said, Senator Sanders will stay a factor in the race. He raised $40 million in mostly small donations during the month of February alone, has won over the hearts and minds of millions throughout the US and has helped to shape the contours of the debate thus far.

photojoiner

He has forced Clinton to sharpen her focus and adjust her message to more accurately reflect the needs of those who have always been the Democratic Party’s core constituency: the men and women who work with their hands for a living and live pay cheque to pay cheque.

By alerting her to their disquiet through an unexpectedly strong showing at the polls, Senator Sanders has actually better prepared Clinton to face a Republican opponent, especially if that opponent is Donald Trump, who has appealed adroitly to the concerns of people who think the American Dream is either dying or already dead.

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Clinton vs Trump 

Trump is certainly in pole position to take the Republican nomination. He currently has 330 delegates or so, more than 100 than Senator Cruz has and more than 200 than Senator Rubio has. Perhaps incongruously, Trump has reason to celebrate Senator Cruz’s wins because the Texan would have had to consider withdrawing from the race had he lost his home state. Super Tuesday also was a good day for Trump in that Senator Rubio, while buoyed to some extent by his win in Minnesota, underperformed elsewhere.

Accordingly, several candidates will continue to divvy up delegates, with Trump almost assured of taking the largest slice, in a number of states holding primaries and caucuses in the next two weeks.

Then, on 15 March, Florida will award 99 delegates and Ohio will award 66 on a “winner take all basis.” Senator Rubio will be staking everything on a win in his home state. Ohio Governor John Kasich, who wasn’t much of a factor on Super Tuesday, will do likewise.

Primary Pixels Photo Gallery Source: AP/Press Association Images

If Trump wins either state, the race is pretty much over; if he were to win both, it is finished. Tellingly, he went straight to Florida on Tuesday to deliver his victory speech and has already stated his intention of defeating Governor Kasich in Ohio. Admittedly early polls show Trump with a good-sized lead in Florida and a solid lead in Ohio.

Many powerful Republicans, who don’t want Trump to win the nomination for a variety of reasons, still posit that he can be stopped. Yet calls to unite around one of the other candidates, such as Senator Rubio or Governor Kasich, have gone unheeded. The window to do so is closing, fast.

At the same time, arguably undemocratic tactics and scenarios mooted by party insiders and/or political commentators, such as last minute changes to the nominating process or a “brokered” convention, sound increasingly desperate and implausible. Furthermore, Trump could respond – or threaten to respond – to any effort to deny him the nomination by mounting a third party candidacy which would eliminate any chance of the Republicans retaking the White House.

Hillary Clinton for the Democrats and Donald Trump for the Republicans

All political predictions should carry a health warning. This one does, too. But in the aftermath of Super Tuesday, I just can’t see things turning out differently.

Larry Donnelly is a Boston attorney, Law Lecturer at NUI Galway and political columnist with TheJournal.ie and IrishCentral.com.

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About the author:

Larry Donnelly  / Law lecturer, NUI Galway

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