5 things to know heading into Super Tuesday

By Thom Fain/Briefing

The Republican establishment seems to have finally found their man in Marco Rubio, whose debate performance Thursday night on CNN produced a chorus of harp-playing conservatives to the hyperbolic tune of, “Rubio’s best debate, ever.”


And on Friday in Dallas, the Florida senator sounded nothing like a robot when he told a raucous crowd in Dallas that during the debate, The Donald needed a full-length mirror during a break “…to make sure his pants weren’t wet.” But nonetheless, Trump has been winning — something he points to often — and if he keeps on doing it through Super Tuesday, the delegate math favors nobody else.


On the Democrat side of the battle, Bernie Sanders trails Hillary Clinton in polling in all but two of the 12 Super Tuesday states. He needs to do well in states like Colorado, Minnesota and Oklahoma to prove his mettle as an enduring progressive with dissonant beliefs separate from Mr. and Mrs. Clinton’s.


Here are 5 things to know leading up to next week’s winner-take-all Super Tuesday primary battle:


1. The next Republican dropout has a lot of power in his hands. It is unlikely that either Ben Carson or John Kasich would leave the race over the weekend, but if either effectively ended their campaign prior to Tuesday, that alone would create a clear-cut challenger to Trump and ensure that Rubio and Cruz don’t duke it out over second place for too long. If Cruz is unselfish enough to drop out of the race after character attacks create an underwhelming showing, it would give Rubio his best shot at winning the nomination — even if Trump came out with a clean sweep on Tuesday.


2. Donald Trump landed his biggest political endorsement on Friday, when fellow Northeastern bully cum laude Chris Christie, who could be the valuable “political insider” Trump is looking for in his VP running mate with 81% of likely voters in the Republican primaries believing he’s their likely nominee.


3. Bernie Sanders has not been able to transfer his social media momentum with the Millennial crowd into hard votes. After Nevada’s 5-point loss, he’ll be looking to capitalize in some unlikely places — but the campaign might have to go “negative” and hit Hillary harder over her use of private emails to swing the momentum. 81% of likely voters in the Democratic primaries believe her to be their presumptive nominee.


4. The most recent numbers suggest Rubio is winning the Ad War, with $35.3 million wrapped up in advertising, compared to Cruz’s $10.6 million and Trump’s relatively low $6.6 million. On the Democrats’ side, Sanders spent $20.1 million and Clinton had favorable ads to the tune of $20.8 million. After Thursday’s debate, Trump spent another $1.6 million of his own money, most of it in Texas.


5. Barring a setback surrounding the FBI investigation into her State Department email use, or a surge in youth voting countrywide — Clinton is set to pad her 504 – 71 lead. That means names for VP running mate are beginning to swirl, including San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro.


Briefing is a GateHouse Media property. Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/briefing_2016 and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/briefing2016, or visit our website at http://elections.gatehousemedia.com/national/todaystopics.

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