Analysis of Saturday’s elections
As I correctly predicted, Cruz won the Kansas caucus, and Trump won the Kentucky caucus and the Louisiana primary.
I predicted Maine for Trump, and also predicted that Kasich would do especially well, and I got both of those predictions wrong. Cruz won and Kasich was way back in third place. But I did also write that “Maine is a sparsely attended event in which, previously, Ron Paul supporters turned out en masse, so anything could happen in Maine.”
I also predicted that “Rubio’s star is fading and that some of the people who would have voted for him are going to go somewhere else.”
That also happened tonight. And it seems that most of Rubio’s voters fled to Cruz. That may surprise some people who insisted that Rubio is a “suburban” establishment candidate and not an evangelical TrueCon candidate. But I explained that much of Rubio’s support “is from evangelical Christian types who want a candidate who is a True Believer in Christ but who also want someone more moderate than Cruz.”
Tonight’s results are pretty bad for the Rubio campaign; he came in third place far far behind Trump and Cruz, and even came in fourth place in Maine (which I did say might happen).
Tonight’s results also are bad news for the idea that there is a powerful “establishment lane” and after the other candidates in that “lane” dropped out, the one left behind would win the nomination. In all four of tonight’s elections, if you add Rubio’s and Kasich’s voters together, this combined person still comes in third place in all four states! (Caveat: the votes aren’t fully counted as I write this, and in some of those states the sum of Rubio’s and Kasich’s votes are very close to second place, so this might change by tomorrow morning.)
I also predicted that Kasich would gain some ground tonight. It’s hard to say for sure whether this happend. Kasich did hit the double digits in three of the four states. I think he gained a little ground, but not that much.
Some people may think that tonight was a bad night for Trump. Trump’s two losses tonight can be chalked up to Trump doesn’t do well in caucus states. There aren’t that many more caucus states left. Cruz is pretty close behind Trump in Louisiana, the only primary state, but Louisiana is a Bible Belt state which is where Cruz is strongest. I don’t see Cruz getting 38% of the vote in the Rust Belt or the remaining Mid-Atlantic states.
There are many unanswered questions. If Cruz stays this strong, does he steal enough delegates from Trump to deny him a majority and force a brokered convention. If that happens, does Cruz agree to be Vice President to Trump?
I still think that Kasich is actually the stronger candidate going forward than Rubio. At least Kasich could win his home state, and he will do better in blue states as we have seen in New England. If the GOPe really wants to go with some “establishment lane” candidate, they should make Rubio drop out and endorse Kasich.
What’s the chance of that happening before Florida (where polls show Rubio far behind Trump)?