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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

And Then There Were Three

Marco Rubio suspended his campaign last night after a decisive defeat in Florida.  Rubio had become the establishment choice after a third place win in Iowa behind Cruz and Trump.  His lackluster debates and uninspired speeches never allowed him to catch fire with the voters.

John Kasich did win in Ohio and keeps going.  He will likely pick up much of Rubio's support, becoming the establishment and moderate candidate of choice.  But this is almost certainly too little too late.  Many Republican leaders are holding their noses and backing Cruz as the only real viable alternative to Trump.

For his part, Cruz is trying to ignore Kasich and call this a two person race between himself an Trump.  Cruz did not win anywhere yesterday. He has yet to win any state other than his home State of Texas which was not a closed primary or caucus, meaning he is poison to independents.  While he has picked up delegates with second place finishes, going into the large and open winner take all States still left on the calendar, his chances look bleak.

Donald Trump has more than half the delegates he needs for the nomination, 621 of 1237.  Wins in Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, and Illinois have only extended his head.  Missouri is still in doubt with Cruz making a close showing there.  But it looks like Trump will take that winner take all state by a fraction of a percent.   Trump even picked up his first outright majority win in the Northern Mariana Island Caucus.  It is hard to see any realistic path to prevent a Trump nomination at this point.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton dominated, defeating Sanders by more than 10 points in Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio. She also won closer wins in Illinois where Sanders made his strongest efforts, and appears to have won Missouri, which is still in the "too close to call" category.  Sanders still seems to be having trouble gaining traction outside of New England, despite a close and surprising win in Michigan last week.  Clinton also has more than half of the delegates needed, 1561 of 2383.  She only needs about 1/3 of the remaining delegates up for grabs to secure the nomination.

Both front runners will continue to deal with stiff competition that will keep their focus from the general elections for a while longer.  Both, however, seem to have a clear path to victory if they can maintain the campaign successes that they have enjoyed so far.

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