I saw a few pundits saying last night that Donald Trump had ‘underperformed’ in the Super Tuesday primaries. That strikes me as laughable unless you’re using some metric that forced him to win every contest to meet some nonsensical expectations game. But the more I thought about last night’s results the more it became clear to me that it was about the worst possible mix of outcomes for Marco Rubio and the even worse for the GOP.
Ted Cruz won three contests and he almost won a fourth. As I wrote last night, that effectively dismantles any argument that he should drop out in favor of Marco Rubio. That guarantees that he remains in the race, which probably smothers any chance of Rubio emerging as anti-Trump unity candidate for at least a month.
But it gets worse! Cruz’s limited elevation blocks Rubio. But the primary schedule is moving out of the South and into the midwest and other regions. Kansas, Maine, Hawaii, Michigan, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio all come in the next two weeks. Those non-Southern states will effectively mow down Cruz’s intensely ideological and largely regional campaign. So if there was any chance of Cruz emerging as the unity candidate, that’s covered too.
So if Super Tuesday blocks Rubio, the first two weeks of March will block any possible coalescence around or breakout in favor Cruz. If you play it out, I think Super Tuesday makes it very likely that Trump won’t have to face a one on one race any time over the next month.
The only exceptions to this are Rubes coming close in Virginia and winning the lowly Minnesota caucus. But like Rubio himself these are very thin reeds. It’s like a game theory sock in the face just as the Rubio 3.0 ‘trash talk’ firmware upgrade made it look like the establishment might be coming up off the canvas.