March Madness: A week in the US Primaries

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“He’s 21 points down from me”, bellowed Donald Trump at a camera during the eight Republican debate, a statement that on his end, unwittingly expressing many viewers’ horrified resignation as the results were tallied earlier this week, safeguarding the real estate mogul’s likely nomination as the GOP’s Presidential candidate.

Just last week, was ‘Super Tuesday’, that most holy of days in the US primary cycle, where this year, eleven (mostly) southern states and their accompanying delegates were up for grabs in what is, essentially a political bar-fight. Though the process, to outsiders, can be baffling, in actuality the election cycle is quite straightforward. American citizens participate in representative democracy twice during an election year: First, they select the potential presidential contenders, during the process known as the ‘primaries’ – those candidates from major and minor parties alike, who jockey for their party’s candidacy. They are nominated through a combination of direct votes – primaries; and indirect votes, through caucuses, in which voters elect delegates (and super delegates) to party national conventions. The second round of representative democracy is, of course, the actual Presidential race, where nominees blaze along the campaign trail until voting day (usually in November), with the newly elected President being sworn in the following January.

By far, the most significant aspect of Super Tuesday, is that whoever comes out on top, wins their party’s candidacy race – two election cycles ago, Barrack Obama ousted Hilary Clinton in Super Tuesday, essentially calling a monopoly on the Democratic base.  And although this year, the results are not quite as clear-cut as they appear, the fact remains that CLINTON and Trump each won seven out of eleven states – a clear majority.

Of course, the race isn’t over yet. There remain several large states left that have yet to vote – such Illinois, Michigan, California, and Florida; that could still jostle the status quo (even slightly) between both the Democratic and Republican Parties, as the three-odd thousand delegates yet to elect their party’s candidate begin to wonder who may have a broader national appeal.

Within the Democratic party, for instance, the favourite is Hilary Rodham Clinton. Though Sanders has unquestionable appeal in smaller states – such as Vermont, and among college-age students, considering his spectacular win in New Hampshire, it is unclear whether or not he is capable of rallying the African American or Latino votes in a national election in the same way as Hilary Clinton has proved she can. Despite being under federal investigation for her crisis management in Benghazi, CLINTON has clearly appealed among larger, and minority communities – key members of the Democrat voting base. Last week, she also won over enough Caucasian voters in Massachusetts to convince delegates and super delegates alike of her broader voting base, which will be key in defeating the apparent Republican favourite, and demagogue, Donald J Trump.

A desperate scrambling for delegates appears to be the only play left for the rest of the Republican potentials. Rubio, the previously assumed favourite appears to be floundering, and has resorted to vindictive criticisms of Trump, while Ted Cruz – the man who filibustered his own rendition of Dr Seuss last year, is appearing like the only ‘sane’ candidate with a snowball’s chance in hell of defeating Trump; a man who has advocated such things as:

  • Building a wall between Texas and Mexico as his preferred immigration policy
  • Murdering terrorists’ families, and thereby committing War Crimes against civilians in the Middle East
  • That his twitter capacity will make enemies “tell the truth”.

As such, it isn’t merely GOP party brass who are advocating that both Kasich and Carson exit the race; in order to preserve some element of political dignity and somehow out-manoeuvre Trump. After all, while Kasich poaches a decent number of potential Rubio supporters, and Carson – though failing to secure any delegates – still remains popular with Evangelicals, who number among Cruz’s biggest supporters; the party base is significantly more fragmented than the race between Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

There were a few smaller elections on March 5th – Among the Republicans, Trump and Cruz won certain smaller states, making the latter just 84 delegates short of tying with the former. Yet, two of the larger states – Florida and Ohio are likely to be Rubio’s for the taking, and despite Trump’s pledge to win over Ohio, it seems possible that, should Kasich and Carson withdraw, this three-candidate race will be a close and interesting call.

On the Democratic side, despite Sanders winning two of the three primaries; he remains 639 delegates behind Clinton, and it is highly unlikely for him to make them back in the larger states – particularly Illinois and California, where his relatively anti-business platforms will significantly hinder his base.

A Oberoi

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