Super Tuesday results will start rolling in over the next few ours and there is no question it will bring a big shift in the emotional and narrative dynamic of the race.
If you are sitting in a Clinton campaign office, you will be a very happy camper for the next 24 hours. Remember when your favorite major league team finally made it to the playoffs after hiring all the best players, but somehow stumbling time after time in the post season? That feeling. It will be hard to exaggerate the euphoria in camp Clinton. Clinton liberals will be partying like it’s 1999. And for good reason. Her pledged delegate count is going to soar, she will have shown that she can stack up wins by significant margins in states key to the general election (e.g., TX and VA), and–most importantly–she can show a campaign filled with enthusiasm. Do not underestimate enthusiasm. It’s about to swing to Clinton–big time.
Sanders is going to have a long night. He will win a few (VT, OK) and place well elsewhere (MA), but he will not win the wave of enthusiasm. Sanders is very good at generating enthusiasm as an underdog. But at around 10pm tonight, the Sanders campaign will suddenly feel–not quite 6 feet under, but…sinking. The message from the Sanders campaign will be “Breathe…” There is still a long way to go, but it will feel more uphill than before.
The volcano of hot molten panic, however, will be erupting from one place and one place only, tomorrow: Republican Party Headquarters.
Cruz will probably take TX, giving his off-putting candidacy some steam. But Super Tuesday will be “yooge” for the man of the hour: Donald Trump. And that means the GOP will start to ratchet up the “oh-my-god-it’s-bigger-than-we-thought-and-it’s-moving-towards-us” panic even more than it did this weekend. Trump is the nightmare monster the GOP spent 10 years creating six months ridiculing, and less than one week taking seriously. And after tomorrow, it will be way too late. Trump cannot be stopped by conventional political weapons. Nothing that spills out of his horrible mouth harms his campaign in any way. Chris Christie, Sarah Palin, Jeff Sessions, former KKK Grand Wizards and even Nation of Islam leaders are all lining up to endorse him. He is golden haired Sith Lord enemy of banking clan Conservatism and multiculturalist Jedi Democrats alike. Nuke the site from orbit? Sling-shot him directly into the sun? The GOP has no idea. Democrats have not even begun to face up to reality.
Trump campaign headquarters will probably be a disturbing place for many Americans, tonight. The campaign will be swarming with people euphoric about a victory for anti-immigrant, anti-government, racist, gun-slinging, birtherism. Stay home. Lock the doors. Tell your children you love them.
And yet…the panic in the GOP will not take long to spread to the Democratic Party.
The problem with Trump winning for the GOP is that he poses an existential threat to the existence of the Republican Party. A leading candidate who has not even met most members of Congress? That ship has already hit the iceberg. There’s water rising in the lower decks and it’s cold–so very cold.
The problem with Trump winning for the Democratic Party is different, but no less real: there is no way to know if the candidate Democratic primary voters are choosing has what it takes to bring down the monster powerful enough to slay the Republican establishment.
And there is a long, long time to wait.
Democrats are already bickering over how to beat Trump. Election strategy papers are being circulated. Arguments are brewing. Doors are being slammed. The Democratic Party simply cannot predict what the future will be like if it means going head-to-head with such an unpredictable candidate.
The problem is also that the Democratic Party is weighed down by less-than-nimble campaign consultants and party insiders who have a hard time seeing the reality in front of their faces because they live in the diamond encrusted bubble of Washington DC. This is even more the case for the Clinton entourage that drifts around in the Davos cloud.
Trump has proven that establishment arrogance is a very easy weakness to exploit. So far, that party arrogance mixed with racism and xenophobia has earned him tens of thousands of Republican voters. Who knows what he has in store for the general election. A softer, kinder anti-establishment centrist conservatism that draws in frustrated Democrats in Ohio, Michigan, Texas and Florida? Your crystal ball is as good as mine.
So, an early congratulations to the Clinton campaign–enjoy the evening, you earned it!
Chin up! to the Sanders campaign–enjoy a shot of whiskey, there’s still a long way to go.
Godspeed to the GOP–future generations will tell stories about how your party did great things in the 19c, but really messed up after that.
And to the Trump campaign: The night is dark and full of terrors. The lord of light has taken you far, but not far enough–winter is coming.