The Trump math

Vox’s Andrew Prokop with my favorite post-Super Tuesday take on Trump:

Trump had an excellent night on Tuesday. He won seven of the 10 states that have been called so far. He’ll likely emerge on Wednesday with a sizable delegate lead over Ted Cruz and an enormous one over Marco Rubio, due to delegate allocation rules in several large Southern states that disadvantage third-place finishers.

And, perhaps most importantly of all for Trump, it appears that his opposition will remain divided. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich all got pretexts they can use to justify remaining in the race — Cruz won Texas and Oklahoma and will be second place in delegates, Rubio finally won his first state with Minnesota, and Kasich seems to have effectively tied Trump in Vermont. [emphases mine]

That’s crucial because so many delegates are going to be allotted in the next two weeks. By the time the dust settles on March 15, 58 percent of delegates will be bound to one candidate or another. And if Trump has two more weeks of victories like he’s gotten already, his delegate lead after the Ides of March could be all but impossible for any other candidate to surpass…

The theories about how Trump could be stopped have always entailed a big, fundamental change to the race — either a collapse of Trump’s support or a consolidation of anti-Trump voters behind just one candidate.

But these two things keep not happening. They didn’t happen on Super Tuesday. And if they don’t happen in the next two weeks, Trump is on track to win…

  • First, Ted Cruz’s wins in Texas and Oklahoma mean he isn’t being driven out of the race as many Rubio allies hoped. He’ll stay in, and for good reason — once all the delegates are allotted, his big Texas win all but ensures he’ll be second in delegates overall (far ahead of Rubio).
  • But Cruz’s triumph is also great news for Trump — because the Texas senator doesn’t seem to have a path forward. Yes, he’s second in wins and delegates right now, but that’s mainly a function of his home state and the calendar. Indeed, the South was supposed to be Cruz’s strongest region, and yet Trump has won six of the eight Southern states that have voted so far. Many of the states Cruz will need to win in order to catch up to Trump are in the Northeast and West. But he’s done poorly in those regions so far, and not enough Southern states are remaining to save him.

As Nate Silver points out, Trump is still winning with just over 1/3 of Republican voters.  But at this point I remain unconvinced that this means the other 2/3 are willing to consolidate behind a single anti-Trump candidate.  And, after Tuesday, that looks less likely than ever.

Photo of the day

As you’ve surely noticed, I do have a soft spot for photos of and from space.  Thus, very much enjoyed this In Focus gallery celebrating Scott Kelly’s photos from the past year:

Airglow in the upper atmosphere, and the Milky Way in the background.

Scott Kelly / NASA

Trump, the KKK, and the GOP

Okay, not much new here, but yet another good take on Trump not being some surprise outlier, but the near-inevitable culmination of the seeds the Republican Party has been sowing.  Andrew Rosenthal:

The comments [condemning the KKK] by Mr. Ryan and Mr. McConnell had two things in common.

First they misrepresented (I think deliberately) the position of the Republican Party on issues like racism and the politics of division. O.K., maybe an actual former K.K.K. grand wizard is a bit much, but both racism and divisiveness have been at the heart of the G.O.P.’s governing and electoral strategy for many, many decades. George H.W. Bush won the presidency in 1988 with a campaign designed around appealing to racism and fear. Mr. McConnell was fine with Confederate flags flying from government houses in the South until the political pressure to take them down became too intense. The Republicans don’t have a “seeming ambivalence” about this. Some are more than seemingly ambivalent, and some are ready and willing to embrace the forces of racism when expedient. Only a tiny handful truly distance themselves from those dark forces in American politics…

Republicans (like those he is beating in the primaries) may find Mr. Trump annoying, and they may find his unvarnished xenophobia, racism and jingoism unnerving as a tactical matter.

But the Republican Party long ago doubled down on its movement to the far right, way beyond the American political center and way beyond any kind of real conservatism. It is a party of white people that protects its richest members and feeds off the anxiety of its poorest members by directing their anger at minorities, immigrants and women… [emphasis mine]

Marco Rubio is not more “moderate” than Mr. Trump, except in unimportant details. Ted Cruz is farther to the wacky right. The only Republican candidate within hailing distance of the American political center is Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who is a conservative but not an evident racist or xenophobe or Tea Party supplicant. And he is on the verge of being driven out of the campaign.

There is no chasm in the Republican Party, unless you count the widening one between Mr. Trump and his competitors when it comes to winning delegates.

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