What We Learned From Super Tuesday
Have his Super Tuesday wins propelled Donald Trump toward the Republican presidential nomination or have strong showings outside his home state of Texas renewed the campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz? What do some disappointing results, despite high-profile endorsements and tough attacks on the front-runner, mean for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio? Will Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders soldier on, buoyed by a few wins and close contests, though Hillary Clinton is looking inevitable?
Roll Call asked political analysts and strategists to weigh in:
Though race is far from over, Trump has momentum: “Tonight’s results validate the polls Donald Trump has been touting for months. While the race is far from over, Trump’s momentum is serving as a wake-up call for conservative opposition to fall in line under a unified effort to stop him ahead of the next big contests in two weeks.
“A coalescing around Trump is far from certain, and as the race becomes more and more clear, so too does the resolve of those willing to step up and stop him. The question is, is it too little too late? Time will tell, but there is still a chance for the anti-Trump forces to mount a successful campaign against him, and they have 14 days to do it.”
— Tim Albrecht, owner of Albrecht Public Relations, which did work for Jeb Bush, and a former communications director for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad
Going to be quite a year for Democrats: “Promoting extremism, fear, and outrageously out-of-touch policies for years, Republicans didn’t get here by accident. Trump’s ascendance was largely inevitable.
— Holly Shulman, former DNC national press secretary
Rubio has to rack up delegates: “As long as Cruz, Rubio and Kasich remain in the race, then Trump will continue to prevail in upcoming primary states and he will vacuum up the delegates while the vote splits among the remaining candidates.
“Cruz and his supporters are going to begin pounding the drum that Rubio should drop out of the race because they are at least racking up wins. Rubio must rack up enough delegates across the states in order to make the case that he still remains competitive.”
—Ron Bonjean, a veteran GOP strategist and Capitol Hill communicator
The time for consolidation is over: “The Bern is gone and the end is nigh for Vermont’s third favorite son (behind Ben & Jerry, naturally). Hillary Clinton is the presumptive nominee and Bernie should go back to caucusing with the Democrats in the Senate rather than pretending to be one on the campaign trail.
“Republicans, on the other hand, are showing in state after state that electability is not a top-tier qualification for the nomination. So we will move to the next phase of the campaign where the #NeverTrump movement splits into two: those intent on doing everything to derail him and those prepared to do the unthinkable and vote for Hillary Clinton.
“I can’t help but think this could have all been different if others had followed Scott Walker’s advice and dropped out back in September. But the time for consolidation is over. That ship has sailed. The only viable play is to encourage Marco, Ted, Ben and John to stick it out and dislodge Trump at the convention or wait for a credible third-party candidate.”
—Pete Seat, a former spokesman to President George W. Bush and an Indiana GOP consultant
Trump can be stopped: “As CFG Action showed in Iowa, and now in Arkansas and Oklahoma, Donald Trump can be stopped. And he must be, before he costs conservatives the White House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court. CFG Action is confident going forward that, with sufficient resources, Trump can be stopped in the winner-take-all states. And this is precisely the plan.”
— Club for Growth Action, a political arm of the Club for Growth
Going into Maine with momentum: “Trump and Clinton showed real strength tonight. Trump heads into Maine with a lot of momentum and a big endorsement from Governor LePage. The question is whether establishment Republicans in a state with a history of electing Margaret Chase Smith, Bill Cohen, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins find its voice.
— David Farmer, a Democratic consultant in Maine, whose GOP caucus is March 5, followed by the Democratic caucus on March 6
Clinton cruising in fifth gear: “On the Republican side, the key date remains the filing deadline in California in late March. The Republican establishment has until then to find an alternative who could garner enough momentum, credibility and a modicum of delegates to take on Trump to upset him in a multi-ballot convention.
— Rick Ridder, a Democrat, is a former presidential campaign manager and senior consultant for five other presidential campaigns
Not the day Rubio campaign hoped for: “The night’s not quite over yet, as it appears that Marco will finish well in Minnesota. Nonetheless, it certainly appears that Super Tuesday was not the day the Rubio campaign had hoped for. But, this race is far from over and the next two weeks are likely to determine his fortunes. If he wins Florida on March 15, he remains in position to potentially deny Trump the nomination. Should he lose Florida, his path forward becomes significantly more difficult.”
— Neil Newhouse, former lead pollster for Romney’s 2012 campaign
Nobody gets out: “Trump won the most states and expanded his delegate lead, cementing his path as the likely nominee, but he’s not inevitable. With a Cruz win in Texas and Oklahoma and Rubio win in Minnesota and over-performance in Virginia, I predict nobody gets out. Buckle up for March 15 and an extended primary on the GOP side.
— Mindy Finn, former senior adviser on digital for the NRSC
Roll Call’s Eric Garcia, Simone Pathé and Mary C. Curtis compiled this report.