On March 1, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump swept up delegates from most state primaries or caucuses, rendering this year's Super Tuesday wins fairly predictable. Those two may have taken the cake on the decisive election day, but the race isn't over just yet. Runner-up candidates like Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz didn't come out empty-handed due to each state's division of delegates among candidates who surpassed the 20-percent threshold of support. Though Cruz, Sanders, and Marco Rubio each walked away with dozens of delegates, catching up with their respective party frontrunners poses a huge challenge. With Super Tuesday behind them, the second- and third-place candidates will have to re-position themselves for the upcoming March 15 primaries, which may spell the end of the game if they don't gain some momentum and revamp their campaign strategies.
On the Democratic side, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won over his own home state, as expected, along with Colorado, Minnesota, and Oklahoma. Though he won fewer than half of the Super Tuesday states, he managed to surpass the 20-percent support threshold in all but one of them. These small wins are of the utmost importance, because the states don't operate on a winner-take-all basis. For example, even his unassuming 28 percent support in Georgia earned Sanders a portion of its 116 delegates. If he is going to give Clinton a run for her money, though, he's going to have to dominate Florida's primary on March 15. The state offers 246 delegates, and it's winner-take-all. Considering Clinton has won almost every Southern state in the election thus far, achieving a victory in Florida will not come easily for Sanders, who isn't faring well among minority voters.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz breathed a huge sigh of relief after winning over his home state — if he had lost there, it likely would have been the end of his campaign. In addition to winning neighboring Oklahoma, Cruz also claimed majority support in Alaska. Considering how former Alaska governor Sarah Palin endorsed Trump as the Republican nominee, Cruz's victory in the state came as a shock. The unexpected win bolstered Cruz's position as a viable rival to Trump (who still has 59 more delegates than him) going forward.
As Cruz continues to pave his way as the likely Trump alternative, he simultaneously weakens Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who is eager to steal his spot. But Trump's victory only boosts Rubio's stance as an establishment option in the race — and this was all a part of Rubio's plan. However, Cruz's Texas victory was anything but ideal. Since Trump will be difficult to stop, Rubio has set Cruz aside as his number-one rival. If Cruz, who has a similar voting record as Rubio except when it comes to immigration, had lost his own state, it would have indicated the end of the road for him and a new beginning for Rubio.
In essence, watching other candidates drop like flies as he gradually moves in summarizes Rubio's primary strategy, which failed on Super Tuesday. As opposed to focusing on grassroots efforts, Rubio has relied almost solely on TV appearances which highlight his youth — he's much younger than the other GOP candidates — and personality. Florida, his home state, will be the real testament to the efficacy of this campaign strategy, and will also determine whether or not he can swoop in and overtake Cruz.
Sanders, Cruz, and Rubio have all of two weeks to amp up their campaign efforts and revise their strategy, because if one thing's for certain, it's that this next round of winner-take-all elections will be decisive in determining who can and can't catch up with the frontrunners.
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