Rubio leaves race after Florida loss, narrowing field
The race for the Republican presidential nomination has drawn much attention due to the high number of candidates as well as the character of its frontrunner, Donald Trump. With Trump’s continuing victories in primary elections across the nation, many candidates have been forced to drop out of the race or alter their strategy in an attempt to overtake Trump.
As it stands now, Trump is leads with 646 delegates, followed by Ted Cruz with 397, and John Kasich with 142. On Tuesday, Trump increased his lead after winning all of the Florida and Missouri delegates and more than any other candidate from North Carolina and Illinois. Kasich secured 66 delegates from his home state of Ohio, and Marco Rubio dropped out of the race after losing his home state of Florida to Donald Trump.
The overwhelming support for Trump, the only non-politician left in the race, reflects the attitude of the American people during this election cycle.
Matthew Hall, Associate Professor of Political Science, explained to the Rover, “The results so far seem to indicate that many voters (more than in previous election cycles) support a substantial—perhaps drastic—shift in American public policy, and they believe a political outsider is the best candidate to effectuate that change.
“I suspect this support for policy change is mostly driven by economic conditions—depressed wages and increased financial pressures for the lower and middle classes,” Hall continued.
Geoffrey Layman, Professor of Political Science, agreed. He noted that the results show a high level of frustration among voters.
“People seem to be yearning for ‘outsiders’ who can take us in different directions and who can solve problems that traditional politicians have been unable to solve,” he told the Rover. “People think that politicians can be bought and sold—that they represent the interests of large corporations and very wealthy donors and not the interests of regular people”
Layman also observed that the primary results show extremity in the two parties. “Sanders is the most liberal major candidate for the Democratic nomination in recent memory,” Layman said. “Trump is not the most conservative Republican candidate (of course, many in the GOP say that he’s not conservative at all), but he does have some very extreme views on some issues (e.g. immigration, confronting terrorism, U.S. relationships with Muslims and the Muslim world).
“Meanwhile, the second-place candidate in the Republican race is Ted Cruz, who is the most conservative candidate in the GOP field and one of the most conservative major candidates for the Republican nomination in recent years,” he continued.
However, Layman noted that these results only represent a fraction of the American electorate. He explained that only about 25 percent of each state’s eligible voters turn out for primaries and only five percent for caucuses.
“So, the anger and extremity of the participants in party primaries and caucuses does not necessarily reflect the views of American voters in general,” Layman said.
With fewer and fewer delegates available after each set of primaries, stopping Trump from winning the nomination seems increasingly less likely.
Layman claimed the high number of Republican candidates earlier in the process allowed Trump to become a strong frontrunner.
“With more than 10 candidates splitting the rest of the vote (or stated support before any of the caucuses or primaries were held), that was enough to make Trump the clear front-runner in the race. But, if there were only one or two other major candidates, there might have been a good chance for a different candidate to attract a larger base of support than Trump,” Layman explained.
“Once the field finally started to narrow to a reasonable number of 4-6 candidates, Trump was so clearly ensconced as the front-runner that a significant number of supporters of candidates who dropped out (e.g. Christie, Bush, Carson) ended up going to Trump,” he continued.
At this point, a brokered convention, in which no candidate secures a majority of the delegates prior to the nominating convention, might be the only possible way to prevent Trump from securing the nomination. In the event of a brokered convention, delegates will cast ballots in multiple rounds until one candidate wins the majority.
“I think the best strategy is for Kasich and Cruz to win enough of the remaining primaries and caucuses to keep Trump from winning a majority of the convention delegates before the national convention,” Layman asserted. “If that happens, then there may be a possibility of a multi-ballot vote for the presidential nominee at the convention and some candidate besides Trump eventually winning a majority of delegates’ votes.”
Hall does not view a brokered convention as likely, but rather as a possibility. “I suspect the most likely scenario is a Trump victory. However, if Kasich or Rubio start winning a substantial number of delegates, the race may end in a brokered convention,” Hall noted. “I suspect Trump would lose in that scenario,” he said.
Because of Kasich’s victory in Ohio, Layman asserts there is still a chance for the other candidates to stop Trump.
“[B]oth Cruz and Kasich staying in might be a better strategy for blocking Trump because they have distinct bases of support,” he said. “Kasich wins support from more-moderate voters who might go to Trump rather than the very-conservative Cruz if Kasich dropped out. Meanwhile, Cruz wins support from very-conservative voters who might see Kasich as too moderate and therefore might support Trump if Cruz were to drop out.”
Trump still needs 591 of the remaining 1,103 delegates to clinch the nomination. The Arizona and Utah primaries are coming up next Tuesday, March 22, with a total of 98 delegates available in these two states.
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