Open thread. My comments below.
10:40pm: I think the cake is close to baked. Actually, two cakes. Cakes…the picture above, which comes from one of the Donald’s weddings, seems appropriate.
On the Republican side, Trump may get all 50 of South Carolina’s 50 delegates, as seemed likely to happen.
In equally big news, Jeb Bush dropped out tonight – pushed in part by Nikki Haley. Trump, Cruz, and Rubio are in for the long haul. If Kasich or Carson stays in, that makes at least four candidates. As I have written, a four-candidate race is a scenario in which a front-runner with 40% support can get a majority of delegates by Super Tuesday, and do even better after that. So Donald Trump is on track to have a majority of delegates at the convention. If that happens, he could win on the first ballot.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton won the Nevada caucuses. In a state like Nevada, where Democrats are more diverse than in Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders needed to win by a reasonable margin. Superdelegates constitute about 8% of all Democratic delegates, and Hillary gets nearly all of those. The remaining 92% are given out proportionally to the popular vote. To get enough of the election-based delegates, Sanders needs about 54% of the vote across all primaries.
He’s just not headed there. Tonight Sanders got 47% of delegates. Next week in South Carolina, polls suggest he will get 33% of delegates. This is not a winning trajectory.
Conversely, Hillary Clinton needs 46% of the popular vote. This assumes that her superdelegates hold in such a situation. This is a complex proposition, but it seems likely to me. Anyway, she appears to be on track for the nomination – though it will be a bit of a fight.
In short, the races for both parties allow their front-runner to get the nomination without a majority of popular support. Considering that’s where the bar is, it would take a seismic event to change the trajectory for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
Media figures are pressured to fill a daily “news hole.” I am not under this pressure. Since I don’t perceive the coming months as being all that suspenseful, I’m tempted to sign off on Presidential coverage until June!
8:20pm: It has been clear for some time that Trump might sweep South Carolina’s 50 delegates. One key district to watch is Congressional District 1, which includes Charleston and is demographically different from the other six districts. The only close counties there are Charleston and Beaufort, where Rubio has almost caught up with Trump – but not quite.
A clean sweep of South Carolina would give Trump 67 of 103 delegates awarded so far, or 65%. Even if he loses a district somewhere, he is well on track to get a majority of delegates through Super Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Hillary leads in the Nevada Democratic caucus. This was a more representative electorate than Iowa or New Hampshire. Sanders needed this win, and he didn’t get it.
My guess is that it’s time to get used to these two particular faces between now and November.