Trump and Clinton.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
DENVER – Candidates vying for the American presidency face their greatest test yet on Tuesday, when 12 states hold nominating contests on a schedule meant to whittle the field.
Only two Democrats and five Republicans remain in contention for their party nominations, and among them, there are clear front-runners entering “Super Tuesday.”
Republican Donald Trump, media personality and real estate tycoon, and Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, former secretary of state, senator and first lady, both lead the polls against their rivals in the majority of states set to vote. Both have already won three of the first four contests thus far.
Clinton hopes to effectively end her race against Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, not only with clear victories in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, but also with strong performances in states where her rival has thus far polled competitively: Massachusetts, Minnesota and Colorado.
States voting on Tuesday allocate delegates proportionately.
But going forward, several major contests – such as Florida, New York and California, all favoring Clinton – award delegates to their national party conventions on a winner-take- all basis, making it difficult for flagging campaigns to catch up with party front–runners.
Trump is expected to win every state on Tuesday with the possible exception of Texas, where its home-state senator, Ted Cruz, has consistently led in the polls.
A defeat in Texas would devastate Cruz’s campaign, according to his own aides, who had planned a firewall across the American South.
Despite Trump’s widespread support across demographics in the Republican primary electorate, GOP leadership is desperately searching for a strategy to stop him from winning the nomination. The blustering New York businessman has vowed to build a wall on the country’s southern border; ban all foreign-born Muslims from entering the US; and, on Sunday, avoided condemnation of Ku Klux Klan leadership, which has largely endorsed his campaign.
Hoping to beat Trump at his own game, Florida Senator Marco Rubio has dramatically shifted the tone of his own campaign in recent days, attacking Trump on his looks, his mannerisms and his personality.
But Rubio is not leading any poll entering Tuesday’s contests.
His best bet is in Virginia, where he appears in striking distance for a victory or a close second-place finish to Trump.
Similar to Cruz’s quandary entering Tuesday’s Texas context, a defeat in Florida on March 15 may deal a fatal blow to Rubio’s campaign. That is the hope of Ohio Governor John Kasich, another remaining GOP contender, who hopes to survive through his own home state battle as the only viable standing alternative to Trump.