Charles Laffiteau's Bigger Picture
Now that I’ve cast my vote in the 1 March ‘Super Tuesday’ primary, I will explain who I voted for and why I voted for them, as well as the contenders I believe are most likely to emerge as the Democratic and Republican nominees for the race to The White House.
The first day of March referred to as Super Tuesday because it is the one day in the US Presidential primary cycle when the largest number of states hold their polls for Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. After Alabama, Arkansas and Texas decided to move their primaries to 1 March, this year’s Super Tuesday contests were nicknamed the ‘SEC primaries’ because half the states holding their polls on that day also have universities in the Southeastern Conference of the NCAA, the governing body for collegiate sports like American football.
The Super Tuesday primaries are even more important in this year’s election cycle because, with the addition of Texas, they will now determine the winners of almost one-quarter of the Republican and Democratic Party’s presidential convention delegates. Democratic candidates need 2,383 delegates to win their party’s nomination, and 1,004 of these are at stake in the SEC primary. For Republicans, 595 of the 1,237 delegates their candidates will need to win the Republican nomination are also up for grabs.
Super Tuesday is doubly significant because it can provide the winners of a majority of these 12 state contests with positive buzz leading into the 15 March primaries in the ‘swing states’ of Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Missouri. Presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton and Reagan won their elections because they carried most of these states come November. The ‘Ides of March’ contests will also determine the winners of an additional 367 Republican and 792 Democratic presidential convention delegates.
Even though I haven’t voted for the Republican candidate for the past 12 years, as a lifelong Republican I still vote in the Republican primary because doing so gives me the right to criticise whoever the Grand Old Party nominates. I believe far too many citizens living in western democracies take the right to vote for granted and do not appreciate the sacrifices previous generations made to defend our democratic liberties. So if you don’t exercise your right to vote, then I also don’t think you have a right to complain about either the winners of the primary and general elections, or about the candidates who opposed them.
I voted for John Kasich in this year’s Super Tuesday primary even though I know he has absolutely no chance of winning the Texas Republican primary, and is also unlikely to win the Republican nomination. By voting for Kasich, I was expressing my support for the kind of common-sense policies that the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan were known for. More importantly, I was also voting against narcissistic Texas Senator Ted Cruz and the destructive, nihilistic and undemocratic direction he espouses.
Fortunately for our country, Cruz has thus far been unable to transfer the formula he used to win the Iowa caucuses to subsequent Republican primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina, nor the 23 February Nevada caucuses. His disappointing third-place finish in South Carolina revealed his weakness among evangelical Christian voters as well as across other Republican constituencies. Even though South Carolina actually has a higher percentage of evangelical voters than Iowa, Donald Trump still garnered more of their votes than Cruz did.
It was the same story days later in Nevada, where Trump trounced his opponents by garnering almost as many votes as his two closest opponents combined. In Nevada, Cruz once again finished third behind Marco Rubio due to his weakness among more sectarian Republican voters. However, Cruz’s campaign strategy has always been centred on winning in Iowa and South Carolina as well as in the states that vote on 1 March. But on the heels of three straight third-place finishes, Cruz is trailing Trump in all the pre-Super Tuesday polls, except Texas and Arkansas.
Many Republican establishment politicians continue to believe that Trump will either implode or that a more conventional candidate like Marco Rubio will emerge to stop him. But I contend that this is wishful thinking because every Republican candidate who has won both the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries has also won the Republican nomination. Furthermore, so long as this remains a three-horse race, Trump will have the edge on his opponents.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton did what she had to do in Nevada by picking up a five-percentage-point win over challenger Bernie Sanders. While this was by no means a resounding win, it appears to have taken some of the wind out of the Sanders campaign’s sails and stymied Bernie’s momentum in the polls. Make no mistake, Bernie Sanders is still a viable threat in the remaining Democratic primaries. But with the support of establishment Democratic politicians starting to coalesce around Clinton, I think she will eventually emerge as the victor.
Unless something dramatic happens in the next few weeks, I believe Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will win the Democratic and Republican Party’s presidential nominations, and go head to head for the biggest job in the world.
Charles Laffiteau is a US Republican from Dallas, Texas pursuing a career in public service. He previously lectured on Contemporary US Business & Society at DCU from 2009-2011 and pursued a PhD in Public Policy and Political Economy.