What We Learned From Tuesday’s Primaries

What if it's Trump? Not all lawmakers will commit to supporting whomever their nominee is in the fall. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
What if it's Trump? Not all lawmakers will commit to supporting whomever their nominee is in the fall. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted March 9, 2016 at 12:00am

Donald Trump stayed strong in the south and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s campaign looked weak, despite high-profile endorsement in the Republican primaries. On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won by a large margin over Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders in Mississippi, continuing her southern dominance, though in Michigan, Sanders pulled out a close win and a stunning upset. And the race continues.  

So what’s next for the campaigns and how will they adjust strategies before upcoming debates and important primaries?  

Suicide note?: “The world’s longest suicide note by a major political party just got one paragraph longer.”  

— Glen Bolger, a longtime Republican pollster A symbolic victory : “Sanders may have won a symbolic victory in Michigan, but he appears to have lost the delegate fight for the night. You can’t lose states 28-1 as he did in Mississippi and expect to be in real contention at a convention. This is a numbers game. And he is losing it.”  

— Rick Ridder, a former Democratic presidential campaign manager Can Trump make nice?:
“Tonight was exactly what was expected on the Republican side. The ball game for Trump is still Ohio and Florida. If he loses them both, it’s awfully tough for him to get 1,237 delegates before Cleveland. If he wins them both, he’s hard to stop. “For all his marketing savvy, he is failing to do the one thing he needs to do to win now, which is consolidate the support of his rivals. Instead he insults his rivals personally. He’s a branding expert and he’s shining up his own tacky brand. But winning elections is about building ever-bigger coalitions. Trump’s not a coalition guy. He’s a me guy.

“That’s why he’s still in a dogfight. A more broadly appealing candidate would be accepting the nomination tonight. But he has as many detractors as supporters and he’s not trying to change that.”
— Brad Todd, a veteran GOP strategist
Not over yet: “Neither race is over yet! The only thing that is clear is that there is one loser tonight – and that’s Marco Rubio.”
— Holly Shulman, former DNC national press secretary

No surprise:  “Anyone shocked Trump won Mississippi and Michigan isn’t paying attention to his two key message sets.”  

— Rick Wilson, Republican consultant

The Math is clear — for Clinton?: “For the Rs, either this was either a decisive night for Trump or it wasn’t — no one has the faintest idea. If you believe that someone knows what’s going to happen in that race, I have a defunct steak company I can sell you.
“For the Ds, the cable networks’ breathless coverage of Sanders’ performance in Michigan was: (a) premature; (b) obviated by Clinton’s blowout win in Mississippi, and (c) only important for another week or so. The math is overwhelmingly clear: Hillary Clinton will be the nominee — this part of the race will be a distant memory by summer.
— Matt Bennett, a co-founder of the Democratic group Third Way, and a Clinton supporter
Doesn’t change much: “It’s a win for Sanders for sure. I don’t think it changes much in the way the race is going. You can’t lose states like Mississippi 83-to-17 or whatever it is and then eke out a win in Michigan. … Even if he had won Iowa by half a point, t doesn’t do you any good when your wins are by a few points and your opponents wins go from South Carolina through Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama. He has some big wins but they have been few and far between.”
“They’ll split delegates.”
— Joe Trippi, former Howard Dean campaign manager
Sanders is optimistic: “We’re going to do very very well on the West Coast.”
— Sen. Bernard Sanders
Simone Pathé, Eric Garcia, Alex Roarty and Mary C. Curtis compiled this report.