BAYHAM: The State of the Republican Nomination Fight Going into Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday can either reset the fight for the GOP’s presidential nod or give Republican frontrunner Donald Trump additional momentum as he bulldozes his way towards what was once unthinkable but what an increasing number of people believe is now inevitable.

By sweeping the Super Tuesday states, the New York billionaire could essentially end the fight for the GOP presidential nomination much the same way Hillary Clinton has pretty much captured her party’s presidential nomination in the aftermath of her thumping of Bernie Sanders in South Carolina.

While one poll showed Trump running even with Texas US Senator Ted Cruz in the Lone Star State, additional surveys have shown that was an outlier as Texans are expected to rally to the local favorite.

Yet even a loss in Texas won’t dent Trump too much especially if he wins the other ten states.  Even with a proportional allocation of delegates and likely securing a plurality of the vote instead of an outright majority, Trump will grab the lion’s share and will increase his already big lead in delegates.

For Ted Cruz, Super Tuesday could be the first time since Iowa that he regains some of the limelight from a media complex fawning over the winless Marco Rubio.

Cruz has pulled away from Trump in Texas in recent polling and scoring a majority would pocket 47 the Texan at-large delegates, helping put some distance between him and his fellow Latino presidential candidate.

Just as importantly for Cruz, are the media exposure opportunities that he has not always managed well.

Cruz practically filibustered his victory speech after winning Iowa and thus did not receive much of a bounce.  Cruz must use this moment to seize the mantle of being the alternative to Trump by delivering an eloquent, forceful, and most importantly cogent address that is not so long that the networks take commercial breaks during it.

For Cruz, this is his last chance to reset his candidacy and public perception after being marred by scandal and accusations of dirty tricks. With Trump having won or expected to win states like South Carolina, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Tennessee- which should have been the bedrock of Cruz’s delegate hoard.  A loss in Texas would end Cruz’s candidacy though that seems really unlikely despite Trump racking up key endorsements.

How anyone can use the term “Marcomentum” and not be facetious is a mystery.  Yet the perpetually “rising” Florida US Senator has yet to rise above second place in any state.  Supposedly the latest candidate of convenience by the corporate GOP establishment, Rubio has been handicapped by the continued presence in the race of Ohio governor John Kasich, who does not seem to be leaving the race until after Ohio, thus splitting the establishment support.

Rubio will doubtlessly try to exploit a number of second place showings on Super Tuesday to make the claim that he is the true alternative to Trump yet such boasts would have more credibility if he had come in first place somewhere…anywhere.  Instead Team Rubio is like one of those small countries you see at the bottom part of an Olympic medal column, sporting a few bronzes and silvers but no gold.

The catch-22 for Rubio is that he needs for Trump to lose a contest to demonstrate that his nomination is not set in stone.  Unfortunately for Rubio, the beneficiary of a Trump setback would be the man Rubio really needs to be out the race.

That Kasich is in the Final Five is surprising; then again I was surprised that he was allowed to take part in the lead off presidential debate.  Kasich is looking to win Ohio, either to use a Buckeye State victory to change the dynamics of the race and potentially force Cruz and Rubio out of the election and become the only challenger to the real estate developer and thus the sole recipient of the unified anti-Trump vote.

At a minimum, winning Ohio would give Kasich a critical bargaining chip in the event of a brokered convention, keeping Kasich’s name around for either slot on the ticket.  However Kasich’s rope-a-dope strategy will be TKO’d by a loss in Ohio-where he is currently trailing Trump.

Finally there’s Dr. Ben Carson.  The neurosurgeon’s path to the nomination evaporated long before the first ballot was cast in Iowa yet Carson made a great deal of hay over tweets from the Cruz campaign.

The truth is Carson was unaffected by the tweet controversy, finishing a distant fourth in Iowa, which was where he was polling the week before the caucuses.  Yet Carson made it seem like the caucuses were tainted by dirty tricks and he found a vocal (and self-serving) advocate in Trump, who exploited the faux-troversy to his benefit.

Carson’s constant whining about not getting questions (or even attacked) at the debates is a stale routine.  His poor performances in the actual contests has produced five delegates and things won’t be getting better anytime soon as his ardent supporters come to realize that a vote for Carson is a vote for Trump, undercutting the support for Cruz specifically.

Carson must really enjoy having Secret Service protection as I cannot think of a single legitimate reason for him to remain in the race.

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