After Nevada, the depression set in.
EVERY ballot shown on CNN’s split screen caucus cam during the commercial break had Trump marked. Putting my hand in the blender.
— Matthew DesOrmeaux ⚜ (@cynicusprime) February 24, 2016
Trump blew his rivals out of the water in the Silver State caucuses. Rubio, who briefly lived in Nevada and attended a Mormon church, was expected to do well in the sparsely populated state. He didn’t. While he did come in second, Trump still beat him 2-to-1 and got twice as many delegates.
In three of the first four primary states, Trump has either met or exceeded polling expectations. While his delegate lead is already large, it’s still very early, with 46 states and hundreds of delegates left to go. Theoretically, anything could happen. Bill Clinton lost nine the first ten primaries in 1992, but still went on to win the Democratic nomination after surprising in mid-March.
— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) February 24, 2016
And although Rubio has a very similar political talent to Clinton, this is not 1992.
With the SEC primary and Super Tuesday coming up in the next 2 weeks, the race needed a massive course correction. And it got one in the Houston debate on CNN Thursday night.
Just as was needed, Rubio and Cruz both came out swinging at Trump, largely avoiding attacking each other as they have for months, to a stalemate. Cruz again went after Trump’s conservative credentials, as he and others have for weeks, but to little effect.
Rubio, on the other hand, hit Trump where he lives. He attacked his business record, his hiring of illegal and other immigrants over American workers, even his inheritance.
Trump tried to attack Rubio for his personal financial troubles, but it didn’t stick. Rubio countered with mockery. “Here’s a guy that inherited $200 million,” he said, “if he hadn’t inherited $200 million do you know where Donald Trump would be right now? Selling watches in Manhattan!”
The Rubio campaign even posted a new item for sale on their website during the debate: a cracked Trump watch. Marco was on fire and loving every minute of it.
Rubio is having FUN. And so are we. #GOPdebate
— Matthew DesOrmeaux ⚜ (@cynicusprime) February 26, 2016
But will it matter?
As of this week, Trump leads in every March 1st primary that’s been polled this year, except Texas. He still holds a plurality of support against four other candidates. Unless multiple candidates drop out and their support goes to Rubio or Cruz, that doesn’t look to change any time soon.
Unless this debate changed it. The candidates have three more days to reinforce their attacks on Trump before 12 more states cast their ballots and possibly seal the Grand Old Party’s fate for the rest of the decade. No pressure!