Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have won predictable sweeping victories in the Super Tuesday primaries, with both candidates starting to “pivot” their focus towards the general election.

Trump’s victory was narrower than he thought it would be — he has taken six of the 11 states so far: the southern belt of Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and Virginia, with Massachusetts. Vermont is too close to call, where’s he running neck and neck with John Kasich. Trump lost Texas and Oklahoma to Ted Cruz, and Minnesota to Marco Rubio, Rubio’s first primary victory (Rubio came in a close second in Virginia, 34%-31%). Alaska, where there’s a Republican primary only, is still to report.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton handily won the southern belt, including Texas. Bernie Sanders took Vermont, his home state, Oklahoma, and Minnesota. He also took Colorado (where there was no Republican contest) and ran close in Massachusetts.

The win gains Trump around 200 delegates, fewer than he was expected to gain. Cruz will win 90-100 delegates, more than were expected. Rubio’s surprise win in Minnesota has given him a bump, but he failed to clear the 20% hurdle in Texas, gaining no delegates. He’ll get about 50 in all.

Cruz’s victory in Texas was greater than expected, 43-27%. But he did badly in the Bible Belt, where he was hoping for Evangelical support. It didn’t come. In Georgia he lost to Trump 39%-24%.

Hillary’s substantial lead over Bernie in the south gave her around 360 delegates to about 150 for Sanders. Her southern figures were stratospheric: 78% in Alabama, 71% in Georgia.

The contest was less bruising than it might have been, because almost all of the states are proportional (albeit with the 20% Texas threshold, and some other complex bits). That carries all the way through for the Democrats.

Now, for the Republicans,  the winner-take-all states begin, with Florida on March 8 and Ohio on the 15th, and some smaller ones. But Florida is key — Rubio must win it, and Trump is polling well ahead of him there. Ohio will give Kasich a chance to stay in, if he can win it — he has already said that it’s all over if he doesn’t win it, his home state.

The combination of Trump’s less-than-expected win and the spread of other wins has revived talk of a brokered Republican convention — since there will be more non-Trump delegates than those for him. With Trump’s latest misfires (by Republican lights), it is quite possible that the party would take the risk of unseating him at the convention and going to a likely loss with a candidate they can trust.

And Ben Carson, old Ben Carson, he just keeps rolling on …

Peter Fray

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