Say so long to any ideas of Trump slippage, and aloha once again to the sense of inevitability for a Donald Trump nomination. Capping a strong evening with early-morning results (noted by John in his live-blog post), the Republican caucus in Hawaii gave the GOP’s frontrunner a little more breathing room in the delegate race. While Cruz won Idaho rather handily, Trump’s win in Hawaii gave him three out of four contests and a renewed sense of momentum:
Billionaire businessman Donald Trump won the Hawaii GOP caucus Tuesday night to cap another strong night for the leader of the Republican presidential nomination race.
With all of Hawaii’s precincts reporting, Trump had 42 percent, followed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 33 percent, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, 13 percent, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, nearly 11 percent.
Trump quickly tweeted, “Thank you, Hawaii” after the major TV networks and the Associated Press projected him as the winner.
Victory in Hawaii capped off a strong showing for Trump, who also won in Michigan and Mississippi. Cruz won in Idaho.
In terms of delegates, the difference between Trump and Cruz is incremental. as Reid Wilson notes this morning:
Estimated delegates won last night: Trump 72, Cruz 61, Kasich 17, Rubio 0.
— Reid Wilson (@ConsultReid) March 9, 2016
However, the problem for Cruz and the other Republicans is that they need to eat into Trump’s delegate lead, at least if they want to win the nomination outright. Any day in which Trump extends his lead while reducing the number of states left on the calendar is a good night for Trump. He still has less than half of all delegates allocated in the primaries and caucuses so far, but if Trump wins a couple of winner-take-all states, that will change quickly. Given what took place last night, it’s difficult to see where Trump can’t compete and win in the upcoming March 15th states.
Trump didn’t have the only good night. Bernie Sanders also reset the campaign narratives on the Democratic side with a shocking win in Michigan over Hillary Clinton. Not only did Hillary have a 21-point polling lead in the RCP average, not one Michigan poll in the last five months put Sanders within single digits in the state:
Sanders had one of his most important victories of the Democratic race, winning his first primary in a state with a large (23 percent) black electorate and carrying a state where Hillary Clinton was the favorite. …
The former secretary of state remains the heavy front-runner in the Democratic race.
Clinton won 81 delegates last night, compared to 64 for Sanders. She leads over 754 to 541 among pledged delegates, with 2,383 needed to win the nomination.
But with primaries in Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri and North Carolina next week, Clinton’s path to the Democratic nomination no longer looks completely assured.
Hillary leads Sanders in delegates by more than a 2:1 ratio, but that’s due to the large cadre of “superdelegates” committing themselves to Hillary. Even without the superdelegates, she leads Sanders 766 to 549. That won’t be easy to make up, but if Sanders somehow gets to a majority of regular delegates, then the superdelegates may feel enormous pressure to bail on Hillary or face a grassroots rebellion at and after the convention.
In other words, both parties may be facing existential questions come convention time, thanks to last night’s results.