Mini-Super Tuesday: The Campaigns Remain Contested

Robert Borosage

As expected, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton won big in the “Mini Super Tuesday” primaries Tuesday.

On the Republican side, the outsiders – Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz – will brawl all the way into what still may be a contested convention. On the Democratic side, Clinton’s increased her edge in pledged delegates. Sanders is likely to fare better in the states to come as he gains more time to introduce himself to voters. The Democratic race, too, will battle on to the convention.

Trump won three states (Florida, North Carolina and Illinois), crushing Sen. Marco Rubio in his home state of Florida, booting him out of the race. Gov. John Kasich won his home state of Ohio, stemming the Trump tide. Cruz ran second in Illinois and North Carolina, with Missouri still a tossup on Wednesday morning.

Two inconceivable interlopers – the outlandish Trump and the loathed Cruz – will compete for the Republican nomination all the way to the convention. Kasich – outlasting Bush, Rubio, and Chris Christie – will struggle to stay afloat carrying the “establishment” banner.

Republican voters scorn Obama, and increasingly are in revolt against their own party leaders. Counting Cruz and Trump together, large majorities are voting for candidates who are committed to blowing up politics as usual. Trump’s base non-college educated, white males, but he’s drawing support across the party.

Clinton won North Carolina and Florida handily, Ohio by more than expected, Illinois by a whisker, with Missouri still up in the air as of early Wednesday. Clinton’s base – older Democratic voters – is voting for continuity. They favor continuing Obama’s policies, not changing them. They favor experience and electability over honesty and shared values. They outnumber younger voters at the polls and are boosting the establishment candidate.

Sanders continues to capture the future by large margins. Millennials under 29 flock to his banner; a majority of voters under 45 support him. In closely contested Illinois, Sanders won voters under 45 by nearly two to one, 64 percent to 35 percent (and voters under 29 by 86 percent to 13 percent). In Ohio, where Clinton’s margin was greater, Sanders won voters under 45 by 66 percent to 34 percent, including those under 29 by 82 percent to 18 percent. They are looking for change big time. Sanders also continues to win independent voters by large margins, his candidacy no doubt drawing them to the voting booth.

Call this the Obama effect. The conservative party, the Republicans, is increasingly older, male and white. This bastion of privilege is angry, offended by a black president, threatened by the changes in America and turning to brazen outsiders to roll back the tides.

The reform party, the Democrats, is dominated by the rising American majority – young, minority, and women. But they are divided. Older voters want experience and electability. Minority voters are proud of Obama, and favor Clinton who has wrapped herself around him in the campaign. The younger voters, independents and large numbers of single women are flocking to the insurgent candidate who decries a system that is rigged and a politics that is corrupted. Whites, including in many states white women, favor Sanders.

Democratic gatekeepers are overwhelmingly lined up behind Hillary Clinton, but the party’s voters are divided. Republican gatekeepers are divided, with some mobilizing to stop Trump, others unable to stomach Cruz, and no viable standard bearer in the race. But the vast majority of Republican voters are united in revolt.

Going forward, the mainstream media will feature speculation on whether Trump’s rise will blow up the Republican party. More attention should be paid, as E.J. Dionne details in his “Why the Right Went Wrong,” to a Republican base that has been consolidated from Barry Goldwater on by a constant cry of betrayal.

The punditry is already rushing to crown Clinton the Democratic winner. However, the growing divide among Democrats between the older and the younger deserves more attention. The Clinton campaign people are certain that the threat posed by Trump or Cruz will help mobilize Democratic turnout. But a party whose leaders are selling more of the same may well find it hard to inspire young voters and independents who are looking for a very new deal.

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