Amid the celebrations of the successful Dunkirk evacuation of World War II, saving most of the British and much of the French Army, Prime Minister Winston Churchill cooled the festivities by saying: “This is not the end. This is not the beginning of the end. This is, however, the end of the beginning.”
Super Tuesday isn’t even the end of the beginning. It is the beginning of the end of the beginning. The beginning will end when Rubio and Kasich drop out of the Republican field and the FBI reports the outcome of its investigation of the Democratic candidate.
Once the GOP field is reduced to two, the process will unfold in the months ahead. It may not be fully resolved until June 6 when California (proportional) and New Jersey (winner-take-all) vote. And we will have no real measure of Bernie Sanders’ strength until the FBI sings.
Rubio denies that he is dropping out, but death comes slowly to the political candidate. First rigor mortise sets in around his wallet and the money dries up. Then the polling goes to hell and, finally, he loses his home state. Measure Rubio’s life expectancy as two weeks. Same with Kasich.
And, with Ben Carson out of the race, his evangelical votes will likely go to Cruz.
Once it is Trump vs. Cruz, we start the real battle. In this era of precision-guided munitions, if they can see you, they will kill you. The only way to win is to advance in stealth, usually in the shadow of your opponent. But Trump is very far from stealth. He is a big brassy band, noisily making his way to the front-runner’s circle.
Now, every business deal, every laid-off worker, every stiffed contractor, every disgruntled or evicted tenant, every defrauded student, every disappointed business partner is going to be heard from week after week, month after month. Nobody will pay the slightest attention to Cruz. He can’t win, after all. And, gradually, he will start winning primary after primary as the Trump brand is — rightly or wrongly — besmirched.
Can Trump evade the precision-guided missiles that will come his way? Can he dodge the bullets? Will they bounce off?
And can Trump begin to get 50 percent plus one of the vote any place? Every place?
We don’t know. He is nothing if not sui generous. But the challenge is coming. Don’t bet on the end yet.
On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders proved on Super Tuesday that Hillary can’t win any state that does not have a significant black population. Colorado, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Minnesota have little in common except their color: pure lily white.
Sanders will carry the white states. On March 5th, look for him to do well in Kansas and Maine (but not Louisiana or Kentucky). He’ll lose Michigan, Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina on March 15.
But then he will win Oregon, Washington, Montana, Utah, and the prairie states. These victories will keep him alive and in play. His losing proportion of the vote in the big states will keep him close.
Then we will see the results of the FBI primary. Just as Yogi so eloquently said, “It ain’t over till it’s over,” this one is not over until the FBI is heard from.
As long as Sanders is in the race, there is a receptacle for anti-Hillary votes. And with a coming recommendation of an indictment highly possible, that receptacle can fill up pretty quickly.
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