Yesterday was Super Tuesday, where over a quarter of the primary races across America are decided and where the rigours of the national, cross-continent campaign fully begin for the candidates hoping to become the next President of the United States.
For both front-runners, Hillary Clinton for the Democrats and Donald Trump for the Republicans, Super Tuesday cemented their positions on course to becoming their parties’ nominees for November’s General Election. America will need to decide between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to become its’ next President.
Hillary Clinton won seven out of the eleven states on offer yesterday, notably winning the larger states of Virginia and Texas which are crucial to win come November. Bernie Sanders’ performance wasn’t wholly bad, though, and was better than some polls were predicting – with a crushing win in his home state of Vermont along with three other victories in Oklahoma, Minnesota and Colorado.
The delegate count as it stands is (with 2,283 needed to win);
As you can see, Hillary Clinton is in a commanding lead that is very unlikely to be assailed with the proportional way in which delegates are awarded in the Democratic primaries.
For now, Bernie Sanders is keeping his hat in the ring but in essence he has reverted to his initial campaign principle of raising issues that have long eluded mainstream politics in the USA. The Bernie dream may be over for now, but his was an ambitious campaign that certainly left its mark on the country.
Donald Trump was the main winner as expected for the Republicans, taking seven states compared to his rivals Ted Cruz, who managed three, and Marco Rubio, who only won in Minnesota.
It was perhaps not as commanding as some polls suggested it might be, but in the first nation-wide challenge Trump managed to command a large support among Republicans despite his image being somewhat unaligned with the party platform.
The Republican delegate count for now looks like this (with 1,237 needed to win):
The crucial thing to note here is that Trump has over half of the pledged delegates so far, which means that even if the other remaining candidates were to consolidate their support into one “establishment” candidate, likely Ted Cruz or less likely Marco Rubio, then it still wouldn’t be enough to oust Trump.
It really is now or never then for the Republicans to create a unifying platform if they want to stop the Donald taking their nomination, but with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio still committed to carrying on it looks like there will simply not be enough time for the Trump lead to be caught.
Now the Clinton v Trump race can really begin, and even for the most highly-charged political race in the world it’s set to be a wild ride. The contrast between the establishment candidate of Hillary and the renegade right candidate of the Donald couldn’t be starker. Clinton is already (set to be) the first female major party candidate for President while Trump is yet another old white man, the likes of whom have dominated American and world politics since time immemorial.
The US Presidential Election is the world’s most important popularity contest, and on that basis the odds are tilted in Hillary’s favour. Despite having strong support from the Republican right, Trump is despised by the other side of the political spectrum and crucially by many Republicans who favour a more moderate conservative approach to leading the country. This means that Clinton has an edge in terms of winning over independents and potentially voters from the other side, as well as being more likely to get out the vote on Election Day amongst the party base to turn popularity into electoral votes.
Another factor that could prove telling is that Clinton’s campaigning experience will likely prove to be a factor towards the end of the campaigns. Trump has never ran for office before, and the pressure he has faced so far will be nothing compared to what he will be up against when he is one of two candidates being vetted by the public and a ferocious media for the world’s top job. Crucially, Clinton’s close relationship with the Democratic hierarchy means that she’ll have a strong campaign team based upon the ones Obama rode to victory on while Trump’s antagonistic approach to the Republican Party means that he’ll be more likely to rely on rookies like himself to run his campaign.
Whereas any other year it would seem like lunacy to select Trump to go up against Clinton, 2016’s race has already shown itself to be completely different. Trump has dominated the airwaves and the Republican primary season by setting the agenda and making the other candidates play reaction politics to him. Like him or loathe him, he has led the debate so far in this Presidential election and made the biggest headlines – and that is a major vote-winner in a country as media-influenced as America. It’ll be tougher to do, but if Trump can suffocate Clinton’s policies just as much as his Republican rivals’ between now and November he could end up in the White House next January.
The final race is beginning to shape up, but of course it is no normal Presidential election. There’s still a long way to go before America chooses its new leader – but the Battle Royale of the primaries is just about to give way to the tête-à-tête of the election itself.