The South Carolina primary delivered some unexpected results, and some that were a bit more predictable. Donald Trump has somehow managed to sustain the momentum behind his presidential campaign and leads the Republican field as it stands. Hillary Clinton, the initial favourite for the Democratic nomination seems to be securing her early predicted victory, despite the rise of self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders. Ahead of Super Tuesday, the day when 12 states elect delegates to the national party conventions, the polls point to victories for both Trump and Clinton.
Over the last week the polls have shown Clinton finally moving away from Sanders – she looks to be more popular than Sanders in almost every poll of Democrat voters in the Super Tuesday states. Whilst Clinton’s dominance in the Southern states, where she can rely on the support of many black Americans, was something of a given, she’s also been seeing good results in New England, where Sanders was expected to provide strong competition. She also has the overwhelming support of the super delegates, who are national convention delegates without state associations. Given this, she could already have five times more delegates than Sanders, placing her in a very good position come Tuesday’s primaries.
Trump’s success has certainly been something of a surprise. Currently he has 82 Republican delegates to his name, with counterparts Cruz and Rubio trailing behind on 17 and 16 respectively. Trump has been polling ahead of his rivals consistently over the past week, despite continuing criticism of his campaign; there were even suggestions from the Vatican that his Christian platform was illegitimate. A few months ago spectators cited Trump’s entertainment factor as one reason for his popularity; in a field of candidates who are in many ways ideologically comparable with Trump, his comic potential sets him apart. Alternatively, he is thought to cater to the type of voter who wants an outlet for their anger and not a nuanced approach to policy. Regardless, the polls predict further success for Trump on Tuesday.
Come Wednesday morning we may have a very clear picture of which two potential presidents will be seeing the contest through to November. If Clinton is successful, as the polls say she will be, we can say with some certainty that she’ll get the Democrat nomination. Sanders could still take the more liberal whiter states, and is sure to win in Vermont where he is a Senator, so there’s no guarantee that Clinton will come away unwounded. Trump could easily win a majority of Republican delegates on Tuesday, but there’s still a chance that he won’t win the nomination. If Cruz carves up the Republican vote in the conservative South where Trump is favoured, Rubio’s popularity in the more moderate states could diminish Trump’s victory. The most likely scenario – victories for both Trump and Clinton – will surely see moderate Republicans flocking to Clinton’s camp come the November election, meaning that at this stage Clinton is the most likely to be the next President.
Photograph: DonkeyHotey via Flickr