It looks like there will be no surprises on the Republican side tonight. As expected, Donald Trump is the runaway winner in Florida. He leads Marco Rubio 46-27 with most of the voted counted. It’s an impressive victory, one that has caused Rubio to drop out of the race.
In Ohio, however, John Kasich leads Trump 43-34, and the networks have just called the race for the Governor. On the plus side, that’s 66 delegates Trump won’t get. On the minus side, Kasich will remain in the race, thus depriving us of the head-to-head Trump v. Cruz match some of us have been hoping for.
However, Rubio’s departure is good news at this point. The lion’s share of his support will go to Cruz, with some for Kasich. If Kasich withdraws, Trump, who appeals to some moderates, will likely pick up a share of that vote.
Trump is winning the other GOP races. In Illinois, he’s almost 20 points ahead of Kasich and Ted Cruz, and he’s above 40 percent. However, North Carolina and Missouri are fairly close. Cruz is within around 4 points of Trump in both states in the early returns. Trump’s share is between 35 and 40 percent in both states.
CLINTON WINS OHIO: Hillary Clinton has bounced back from her shocking defeat in Michigan by winning Ohio by about 20 points. She even managed, if the exit polls are right, to narrowly win the White vote in the Buckeye State.
I’m going to speculate that Clinton won Ohio for the same reason Kasich did — the state has done well economically. Its voters thus rewarded their governor and rejected the Socialist who proposes to tear the system down.
Is Kasich responsible for Ohio’s economic success? I don’t know. I don’t doubt that he’s an effective governor, but usually the kind of turnaround Ohio has experienced is due mainly to circumstances beyond the control of any politician.
NORTH CAROLINA GOES TO TRUMP, BUT HE WINS FEWER THAN HALF THE DELEGATES: Trump has edged out Cruz in North Carolina, 40-36. It’s far from clear that Trump would have won a two-man race against Cruz.
Fortunately, North Carolina isn’t winner-take-all. And in fact, it looks like Trump will pick up only 27 of its 62 delegates. Cruz gets 24, while Kasich and Rubio receive 7 and 4, respectively.
MISSOURI TIGHTENS: Missouri is the only GOP race that hasn’t been called. Trump has been leading all night, but Cruz has pulled close.
The latest returns show him only 1.5 point behind Trump. Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight writes:
There’s still a lot of vote out [from] around Columbia, where Cruz is winning by 11 percentage points. The bottom line is that this race is very close.
The Democratic race in Missouri is also close. Sanders leads Clinton by about 4,000 votes with roughly 50 percent of the vote counted.
MISSOURI UPDATE: Trump’s lead over Cruz is less than 3,000 with more than 700,000 votes (around 75 percent of the expected total) counted. Sanders has a comparatively comfortable lead of more than 10,000 votes over Clinton.
Unfortunately, Trump stands to win nearly all of Missouri’s 52 delegates if he holds onto his narrow lead, according to David Wasserman of FiveThirtyEight.
This highlights the tragedy (from my point of view) of the multi-candidate race. There’s almost no doubt that Cruz would have won Missouri in a two-way race, and he might well have won even in a three-man race. (I don’t mean to exclude the possibility that he will come from behind and way anyway, though time is running out.)
MORE MISSOURI: On the Democratic side, Clinton has moved past Sanders, albeit by only around 1,200 votes. It’s probably that same late vote from St. Louis that often rescues Democrats in general elections.
Only about 1 percent of the vote is out, so I imagine Clinton will prevail. If so, she’ll have gone five for five tonight.
On the GOP side, Trump leads Cruz by around 2,500 votes. Approximately 98 percent of the vote (or is it the precincts) is in, so Cruz will be hard-pressed to catch up.
At FiveThirtyEight, they estimate that Trump is on track to win about 67 percent of the delegates at stake tonight, even though he’s averaged only a little more than 40 percent of today’s votes. Until tonight, Trump had won 42 percent of all GOP delegates with 34 percent of the vote.
This demonstrates the impact of the race’s shift to more winner-take-all and quasi winner-take-all contests. And it suggests that Trump is going to be very difficult to stop.
With that, I’ll sign off.