The Republican presidential race expanded across the country
Sunday, and polls show the real estate mogul ahead in eight of the dozen states voting in the next nine days.
The Republican presidential race expanded across the country Sunday,
and polls show the real estate mogul ahead in eight of the dozen states
voting in the next nine days.
Trump has now won primaries in two very different states,
center-right New Hampshire and evangelical-dominated South
Carolina. And the Republican Party system of choosing a presidential
nominee favors candidates who continue to win early primaries
“He seems to have about a third of the Republican electorate under
his spell, and it’s a durable, non-ideological coalition,” said Kyle
Kondik, managing editor at Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball Sunday.
The biggest hope for stopping Trump is for a single strong challenger
to emerge, and so far that hasn’t happened.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., finished second Saturday in South Carolina,
but he was 10 percentage points behind Trump and barely edged
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, even though Rubio barnstormed the state
with popular Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.
Rubio also lacks an obvious state where he can win in the next
few weeks. He should be a favorite in Tuesday’s Nevada caucus.
Rubio lived in Las Vegas as a child, was a church member, and
Sunday picked up the endorsement of Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada.
But a CNN/ORC poll last week showed Trump with a huge lead,
with more support than Rubio and Cruz combined.
TRUMP HAD 45%, RUBIO 19% AND CRUZ 17% IN THE FEB. 10-15 CNN/ORC NEVADA GOP CAUCUS POLL
A week later, Rubio faces primaries and caucuses in 11 states where voters will award delegates, including seven Southern or border states where Cruz is making a strong push. Polls show Rubio ahead in only one Super Tuesday state, Minnesota, though he could contend in Virginia and Tennessee, which have big moderate GOP constituencies.
Rubio’s best hope is that once the campaign moves into larger,
more diverse states on March 8 that he can emerge as the mainstream
hope. He previewed his pitch Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,”
saying, “I give us the best chance to unify.”
But in Michigan, which votes that day, and Florida, Illinois, Missouri
and Ohio, which vote a week later, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio is making
a strong effort for the same constituency.
Cruz has a more daunting test.
South Carolina should have ignited his crusade for a more
God-fearing America. Everything was in place, including a big
momentum-filled downtown Charleston rally Friday with Duck
Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, conservative talk show host Sean Hannity
and a surprise endorsement from Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C.
Instead, Cruz not only finished third, but exit polls showed he
trailed Trump among evangelicals. In the upcoming contests,
he also has to contend with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson,
who’s far behind but appeals to the same voters.