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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Super Duper Tuesday for Trump

Big night possible for Donald Trump

 Jonathan Easley

Donald Trump is poised to grow his delegate lead over the Republican field with a strong showing on Super Tuesday.
The long-time GOP front-runner leads in the latest polls in eight of the 11 states that will vote on March 1, and he’s the only candidate who is competitive across-the-board.
Even worse for Trump’s rivals is that you must win at least 20 percent of the vote to get any delegates in the four states with the largest prizes.
The latest polls show Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Ben Carson are below the threshold in all four of those states, while Ted Cruz is below the threshold in three of them.

Here’s a look at how things are shaping up on the day when about a quarter of all delegates will be awarded in the GOP nominating contest.

Trump could potentially sweep all of Alabama’s delegates even though it’s not a winner-take-all state.
A poll released this week from Birmingham-based Republican consulting firm Master Image found Trump at 36 percent, followed by Rubio at 19 percent and Cruz at 12 percent.

That finish would be devastating to Trump’s rivals, as Alabama has a 20 percent threshold to qualify for the state’s 26 at-large delegates.

The challengers could still nab a few delegates at the district level, but these will be heavily-weighted in the winner’s favor.

Perhaps sensing defeat in a state that once represented a critical cog in his Southern firewall, Cruz cancelled the lone appearance he had scheduled in Alabama this week.

Rubio has several late stops planned in the state as he seeks to claw above the 20 percent mark.

None of the candidates are spending any time or resources in Alaska, and the caucuses are notoriously difficult to survey.

An Alaska Dispatch-Ivan Moore poll taken in January found Trump at 28 percent and Cruz at 24 percent. Rubio, Kasich and Carson were each in single-digits. The state has a 13 percent statewide threshold for delegates.

Arkansas is lining up to be a competitive race and could be an opportunity for Cruz or Rubio to steal a victory and limit Trump’s delegates haul.

A Talk Business-Hendrix College poll released earlier this month found Cruz leading at 27 percent, followed closely by Trump and Rubio at 23 percent each.

Cruz will rally supporters in the state on Saturday and Sunday.

Rubio will also be in the state over that stretch. The state’s largest newspaper endorsed him this week, and he has the backing of wildly popular Gov. Asa Hutchison, who has cut an ad for him.

Of course, Trump drew more than 10,000 at a rally in the state earlier this month.

He has another rally planned for Saturday, and recently landed former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s daughter and campaign manager, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, as a senior adviser.

A TEGNA-WXIA survey released Thursday found Trump pulling away, taking 45 percent compared to 19 percent for Rubio and 16 percent for Cruz.

If those behind Trump fail to meet the 20 percent threshold statewide, it would automatically give Trump all 31 at-large delegates and set him up to take a strong majority of the district-level delegates.

Trump made Georgia the sight of his first rally after a resounding win in South Carolina, and he’ll make one of his final campaign stops in the Peach State before Super Tuesday at another rally on Monday.

But Rubio, Cruz and Kasich aren’t giving up on a state that represents the second-largest delegate haul behind Texas on Super Tuesday. All three have stops planned there in the final hours before Election Day.

Only Kasich has a stop planned in the Bay State before Tuesday.

Kasich, who came in second place in New Hampshire earlier this month, believes it’s a state where he could de well. His super-PAC is up with ads there narrated by television personality Tim Allen.

But Trump appears headed for a runaway victory.

He drew 10,000 supporters to a rally in Lowell last month, and an Emerson College poll released this week shows the front-runner with a 50 percent support and a 34-point lead over the next closest contender.

None of the GOP candidates will stop in Minnesota in the final days before the caucuses, although Rubio swung by last week and pulled an impressive crowd of nearly 2,000.

Rubio counts former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and a couple members of the House there as supporters.

The most recent polling in Minnesota is from January, and found Rubio in the lead with 23 percent, followed by Cruz at 21 percent and Trump at 18 percent.

 A survey from the state’s largest newspaper released this week found Trump in the lead with 29 percent, followed by Rubio at 21 percent and Cruz at 20 percent.

All three have stops planned there over the weekend and appear likely to finish above the 15 percent threshold for delegates.

A survey from mid-January by Middle Tennessee State University found Trump dominating with 32 percent and a two-to-one advantage over Cruz, who was a distant second.

If no other candidate reaches the 20 percent threshold, Trump would sweep all 31 of the at-large delegates and likely a strong majority of the district delegates.

Some political observers view Tennessee as having the potential to lift an establishment candidate, like Rubio or Kasich, over insurgents like Trump and Cruz.

Rubio made Tennessee his first stop after the South Carolina primary. He also scored a late endorsement from Gov. Bill Haslem, who is cutting ads for him there.

Kasich is also putting on the hard press, spending Friday and Saturday in the state.

Cruz slammed Trump in a rally there on Friday and will spend Election Day in the state.

But a quarter of a million people have already cast ballots because of early-voting in Tennessee, so Trump is already potentially building a lead.

TEXAS (155) 
Texas is home to the largest delegates prize on Super Tuesday.

It’s a must-win for Cruz, the home-state senator, whose Southern strategy is otherwise in pieces.

The Real Clear Politics average of polls shows Cruz has about a 7-point lead over Trump.

Rubio is flirting with the state’s 20 percent threshold and risks getting shut out for a cut of the 44 at-large delegates. There is no prize for finishing in third place at the district level either.

Cruz and Trump appear poised to split the bulk of the Texas delegates, as allocation rules make it difficult for the winner to pull away, or for the third-place finisher to have much of an impact.


Kasich will be in Vermont on Monday, hoping to replicate the strong finish he had in neighboring New Hampshire.

But Trump is running away with the contest, according to a Castleton University poll released earlier this month, taking 32 percent. Rounding out the field are Rubio at 17 percent, Cruz at 11 and Kasich at 10.

Once again there’s a 20 percent threshold, so Trump is threatening to take a strong majority of delegates.

The front-runner pulled about 2,000 at a rally in the tiny state last month in Bernie Sanders’s hometown of Burlington.

A Monmouth University survey released Thursday showed Trump topping 40 percent in a state that some believe should cater to more mainstream conservatives, like Rubio or Kasich.

Rubio is a distant second place at 27 percent and no one else is competitive.

All of the candidates except Carson will stop there before Super Tuesday seeking to cut into Trump’s lead in a state that, with no qualifying threshold, is truly proportional.

Cruz was there Friday. Rubio is planning four stops across the state on Sunday, coupled with an ad blitz. Kasich will blanket the state on Monday.

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