Clinton, Trump dominate Arkansas primaries

Super Tuesday moves candidates closer to nomination

By Ralph Hardin ralphhardin@gmail.com

What began last year as a field of nearly two dozen hopefuls has narrowed to a scant half-dozen in recent weeks, as the presidential primary season for the 2016 election cycle revved into full swing. The process intensified exponentially last night as “Super Tuesday” voting was held across a dozen U.S. states and territories. Though numbers were still trickling in late last night, the day was clearly a victory for Hillary Clinton. The former First Lady and Secretary of State outpolled her only remaining rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, handily, winning eight of the 12 Super Tuesday contests and garnering more delegates than Sanders by a 2-to-1 margin. For Clinton it was a night that likely erased any doubts about her front-runner status, with one Clinton staffer remarking the candidate was “back on the road to inevitability” as the Democratic nominee for the November election. Clinton’s dominating showing Tuesday comes on the heels of two key wins late last month, a huge win in South Carolina’s Democratic primary last Saturday and a win in Nevada, where Sanders was expected to be a bigger threat. As the night progressed, Clinton was declared the victor in Arkansas (with nearly 70 percent of the vote), as well as Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Sanders won his home state of Vermont, as well as Colorado, Minnesota and Oklahoma. On the GOP side of the race, Super Tuesday seemed to prove that what was once widely viewed as a bit of a joke campaign is anything but, as front-runner, businessman Donald Trump surged to a commanding lead in the delegate count with an impressive showing in a slightly more open field. Trump claimed victory in Super Tuesday states, including Arkansas, as well as Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia (Alaska was projected for Trump as well, but reports were still being compiled). Texas Senator Ted Cruz won Oklahoma and Texas, with Florida Senator Marco Rubio projected to take Minnesota. Dr. Ben Carson and Ohio Governor John Kasich, now relegated to all but also-ran status, struggled to crack double digits in most states. The results cement Trump as the clear man to beat moving forward, with Cruz and Rubio seemingly the only viable threat’s to a Trump nomination. Trump has now garnered three times as many delegates as Cruz and five times as many as Rubio. Trump’s candidacy has been divisive for the Republican party, with establishment party members turned off by his seemingly outlandish (that is, not “presidential” approach to politics), while supporters laud the former “Apprentice” host’s no-nonsense, non-PC style. While Cruz has emerged as the default non-Trump candidate for moderate GOP voters, he has yet to curtail Trump’s lead in the polls (and now in the primaries), and Rubio struggles to remain relevant as the field narrows. One-time close challenger, Carson, has faded badly, and Kasich, outside of one strong early showing in New Hampshire, has not connected to voters. As went much of the nation, and as went Arkansas, so went Crittenden County. Locally Trump and Clinton outpolled their rivals. A traditionally Democratic-leaning community, local voters checked Clinton’s name 3,379 times, compared to Sanders’ 722, while on the Republican ballot, Trump collected 1,359 votes, with 792 for Cruz, 543 for Rubio, and 165 for Carson. Nine more states will conduct primaries over the next two weeks, followed by 10 more in the second half of March. By then, more than half of all states will have cast their votes and Americans will have a clearer picture of which two candidates will face each other on Nov. 8.

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