The Republican establishment took it on the chin once again tonight, as the big winners were Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Marco Rubio finally got his first victory in Minnesota, but he desperately needed a win in Virginia and couldn’t get it. John Kasich might eke out a win in Vermont (still not called as of 11:25 Eastern), but with only 16 delegates, it won’t count for much.
Trump remains in very solid shape to win the GOP nomination, and Cruz has reestablished himself as Trump’s chief competition. Rubio comes out of tonight looking weaker than ever. Both Rubio and Kasich will come out of Super Tuesday with, at most, one win apiece. That’s enough to keep them alive for their own home state primaries in Florida and Ohio, respectively, two weeks from tonight, but they’re going to have to start winning in some other places to be viable contenders.
One potential YUUUUGE weakness for Trump that emerged tonight: look at his numbers in Minnesota, where he is running a distant third. He also lost Iowa. The results thus far during the primary season indicate that Trump is not particularly strong in the Midwest. This might not cost him the nomination, but it certainly could lose him the general election in November; of all the nation’s different regions, the Midwest is the “swing” region that determines elections.
But that’s down the road. Right now, there’s no reason at all to think that Trump is not still the favorite on the Republican side.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton did herself a huge favor by winning Massachusetts. If Bernie Sanders had won Massachusetts, he would have gotten out of tonight winning all five of his target states and fighting Clinton to a near draw in the number of states won. Even considering the fact that she’ll come out of tonight with a huge delegate lead (by virtue of her crushing victories in the South), if Sanders had won five of 11 states, it would have been a big hit to Clinton in terms of perception. Winning a key state right in Sanders’s backyard was a big win for Clinton.
In short, nothing changed tonight. Trump and Clinton are still well ahead in their respective races, and there is going to have to be a major change in the trajectory of either race to change that fact.