It doesn’t really matter whether you pronounce it “ace-la,” “ah-sale-lah,” “ass-a-la,” “ack-a-la,” “ah-sell-ya,” “a-kel-la” or “a-seal-ia” because no one called it the “Acela primary” anyway. Super Tuesday IV, the latest in increasingly less super string of Tuesdays, was a fairly predictable installment in this series.
Donald Trump swept Tuesday’s contests in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, while Hillary Clinton won four out of those five states, losing just Rhode Island to Bernie Sanders.
In his victory speech Tuesday night, Trump put it this way: “When the boxer knocks out the other boxer, you don’t have to wait around for a decision. As far as I’m concerned, it’s over.”
Is it really over?
It’s not over-over. To borrow a metaphor from another classic fourth in a series, Rocky IV, Ivan Drago (the 1,237 delegates Trump needs to win) is still on his feet. Trump was always expected to win this round; the match itself is expected to be decided in Indiana.
He doesn’t have the Republican nomination in the bag yet, but Trump’s victories on Tuesday showed he’s a lot closer than he had been. Exit polls showed he was gaining ground with groups that had been reluctant to vote for him in previous contests; in Maryland, for instance, he won among women, moderates and wealthy voters. He also managed to win every state with more than 50 percent of the vote, a feat Trump had only previously achieved in his home state of New York. Those margins are all the more meaningful on the heels of the first poll since Trump entered the race to show the mogul with 50 percent of support among Republicans nationwide.
Was this a major blow for the Cruz-Kasich alliance?
Tuesday’s results were a blow for both Ted Cruz’s and John Kasich’s campaigns individually — they netted an expected ten out of 118 delegates, combined — but not necessarily for their newly formed alliance. On Sunday, campaign officials for Cruz and Kasich announced they were teaming up to slow down Trump’s delegate haul. Theoretically, Kasich would cede Indiana to Cruz, Cruz would surrender Oregon and New Mexico to Kasich. We’ll have to wait until the Indiana primary on May 5th to see if the plan works or not. (Oregon is set to vote on May 17; New Mexico not until June 7.) The pact already showing signs of cracking, though.
How’s that whole “act presidential” thing going for Trump?
Poorly! The “kindler, gentler” Trump who supposedly debuted after last week’s New York primary was nowhere to be seen on Tuesday night when Trump ripped in to his presumptive general election challenger, Hillary Clinton, by noting that “he only thing she’s got going is the woman’s card. And the beautiful thing is that women don’t like her.”
The comment earned eye-rolls from women across the political spectrum, and maybe even one standing behind him as he delivered the remarks: the first lady of New Jersey, Mary Pat Christie. Clinton seized on the slight, working it into her own remarks on Tuesday night: “If fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in,” she said.
So is that it for the Democrats then?
After Tuesday, the contest is close to wrapped up. Barring some spectacular sea change, Clinton is all but guaranteed the nomination. Though she lost Rhode Island by five points and only eked out a win in Connecticut, it was a better than average night for Clinton. In addition to continuing to do well with older and black voters, she won among whites in Pennsylvania and Maryland — a group among which Sanders had sometimes outperformed her in the past.
How is Sanders taking all this?
OK, it seems. For the first time on Tuesday evening, the Vermont senator couched his victory remarks in terms of influencing the Democratic Party rather than winning the nomination. He said he intends to go to the convention “with as many delegates as possible to fight for a progressive party platform.” Sanders is huddling with members of his campaign Wednesday, a meeting that one advisor said would be an opportunity to “reassess.”
“If we are sitting here and there’s no sort of mathematical way to do it, we will be upfront about that,” strategist Tad Devine told the New York Times. “We will talk about what we intend to do between now and the end and how we can get there.”