Clinton's win has her well-poised to have captured three of four states before Super Tuesday
Trump has now won the critical nomination states of New Hampshire and South Carolina
Jeb Bush ended his campaign
Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders will be guests today on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper, Sunday at 9 a.m. and noon ET.
Donald Trump ran away with South Carolina. Hillary Clinton’s strong organization and attention to local details staved off Bernie Sanders’ “political revolution” in Nevada. And Jeb Bush dropped out.
Trump has now won the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries against a fractured GOP field, while Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are battling for second place.
Clinton worked the Las Vegas casinos like her chances at the Democratic nomination depended on them, and notched a victory that stops Sanders’ momentum and puts her campaign on solid footing heading into South Carolina.
Here are CNN’s takeaways from South Carolina and Nevada:
Trump’s commanding win
Trump ran away from the pack in the Republican primary, leaving two other contenders – Rubio and Cruz – in a knife fight for second.
Trump has now taken two of the first three GOP contests, and looks dominant enough that other candidates’ chances of surpassing him could hinge on whether the five-candidate field quickly narrows.
With 99% of the expected vote in, Trump won with 33%, well ahead of Rubio and Cruz who were virtually tied at 22% – but Rubio’s position immediately looked better when Bush dropped out, leaving Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich as the only candidates in the so-called establishment lane.
Trump, though, wasn’t buying that notion, saying he’d heard similar chatter on TV before giving his victory speech.
“They don’t understand that as people drop out, I’m going to get a lot of those votes also,” he said.
Trump could be on a course to run away with wins in Nevada and on Super Tuesday, particularly across the southern states that vote March 1.
Clinton’s Nevada victory halts Sanders’ momentum
As the Democratic race moves to South Carolina, where polls have her well ahead, Clinton could have three of the four early-voting states under her belt heading into Super Tuesday.
Her win stems the momentum Sanders had built by eliminating the gap in Iowa and then blowing Clinton out in New Hampshire. It should calm nervous donors and reassure them of Clinton’s strategy.
In her victory speech, Clinton repeated a line that has worked well for her over the past two weeks against Sanders: “The truth is, we aren’t a single-issue country. We need more than a plan for the big banks; the middle class needs a raise and we need more jobs. We need jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced, jobs that provide dignity and a future.”
Sanders’ strength among young voters and liberals, and his credibility with Democratic voters, means he’s not going away anytime soon – especially since the last two weeks of March bring a swath of western states he could win.
But Clinton’s advantage among “superdelegates” (the Democratic officials who support her, and cast votes at the party’s convention), her organizational strength and her advantage with African-American voters and loyal Democrats leaves Sanders a narrow path.
Bush’s road ends
Jeb Bush pinned his hopes on South Carolina, pulling out all the stops, with mother, Barbara Bush, and brother, George W. Bush, campaigning on his behalf. It wasn’t enough – not even close. With half the state’s results in, Bush was in a distant fourth place.
The reality for Bush was that the man didn’t match the moment.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s decision to endorse Rubio, even after Bush had developed a relationship and courted her heavily, was a psychic blow. It was a blow at the ballot box, too: One-quarter of South Carolina voters identified her endorsement as important, and half of those backed Rubio.
How tough had things gotten for Bush? Consider this as a sign: Jeb Bush’s “Right to Rise” super PAC raised more than $100 million in its first six months. In January? It brought in $380,000.
Bush’s exit is huge for Marco Rubio and John Kasich. The last of those two standing will need to consolidate all the support that had gone to Bush. It also opens up a massive fundraising network – which has Kasich’s camp giddy
Clock’s ticking for Cruz?
Ted Cruz will end up about 10 points below Trump, in a state where evangelicals dominate the GOP electorate. That’s not a good sign for the road ahead.
But he came out Saturday night and gave a rousing victory-like speech.
Cruz portrayed himself as the race’s only true conservative in a feisty address Saturday night, saying that “we can go with a constitutional conservative and bring back morning in America.”
The problem is not just that Trump is winning – it’s the diversity of his support.
Trump beat the establishment candidates among moderates in New Hampshire. Then he went south and beat Cruz among evangelicals in South Carolina.
It raises the question: Other than the senator’s home state of Texas on March 1, where can he beat Trump?