Going into Super Tuesday, the GOP political establishment is on the ropes. If either Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz aren’t able to put up a strong showing, then the nomination is Trump’s. Plain and simple.
To be sure, Rubio has gained some ground over the past several days. In the last Republican debate, the Florida senator went on the offensive against Trump and hasn’t let up since. Over the weekend, Rubio called Trump a “con man.” The frontrunner has also faced questions about his tax returns, a civil suit related to Trump University, his perceived unwillingness to disavow the KKK, and a litany of other issues.
On Sunday, Trump inadvertenly retweeted a quote from the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
But while Rubio is resurgent, he needs a win. Badly. The senator has yet to carry a state and as always, it’s not at all clear that voters are rational when it comes to Trump. That is, Trump’s support isn’t based on the electorate’s careful consideration of the issues. It’s based on a kind of groundswell of nationalism and anger that the billionaire in many ways embodies. There’s every reason to be afraid of Trump, but he’s managed to make voters even more afraid of where the country is headed if he’s not the next president.
As Politico noted over the weekend, "even if he stumbles, Trump leaves Super Tuesday with enough delegates to remain at the front of the race [while] Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Ben Carson all lack that luxury."
The hope was that as the field narrows, the other candidates would capture the support of voters who favored the candidates that dropped out. At one point, polls indicated that in a head-to-head battle, Trump would lose to Rubio. Put simply, that thesis hasn't played out. In fact, the latest poll out from CNN/ORC shows Trump now has a 33 point lead over Rubio, while Ted Cruz is now a distant third place. "On the Republican side, the new survey finds Trump's lead is dominant, and his support tops that of his four remaining opponents combined," CNN wrote this morning. "The businessman tops his nearest competitor by more than 30 points: 49% back Trump, 16% Marco Rubio, 15% Ted Cruz, 10% Ben Carson and 6% John Kasich."