With more delegates up for grabs than any other day in the Republican race for president, Donald Trump seems likely to roundly defeat his rivals in most of the Super Tuesday contests, including in a number of southern states.
According to the polls included in the Real Clear Politics polling average, Trump has solid leads in all but three of the 11 states voting Tuesday.
The states casting ballots include Alabama (50 delegates available), Alaska (28 delegates), Arkansas (40 delegates), Georgia (76 delegates), Massachusetts (42 delegates), Minnesota (38 delegates), Oklahoma (43 delegates), Tennessee (58 delegates), Texas (155 delegates), Vermont (16 delegates) and Virginia (49 delegates).
Trump has a commanding lead in the the states he is favored to win — he’s up 27.5 points in Massachusetts, 18 points in Tennessee, 17.7 points in Alabama, 15 points in Vermont, 14.5 points in Virginia and 14.4 points in Georgia. He is also ahead in Oklahoma and Alaska.
Asked his thoughts on the races, Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, told The Daily Caller: “Mr. Trump is working as hard as possible to speak with voters about his vision to Make America Great Again.”
Ted Cruz, according to the polls, is ahead in his must-win home state of Texas, which is awarding the most delegates of any state Tuesday. The Texas senator is also ahead in the polls in Arkansas.
Delegates on Super Tuesday are awarded on a proportional basis, meaning a number of candidates, and not just the victor, can receive delegates based on how well they perform.
Under the rules in Texas, a candidate must cross a 20 percent threshold to get any delegates. That is especially important to Marco Rubio, who is straddling that line. (The Real Clear Politics polling average in Texas has Cruz at 36.2 percent, Trump at 26.6 percent and Rubio at 19.2 percent.)
Cruz, needing a strong performance at home, has been endorsed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Rubio, who has yet to win a state and needs a victory somewhere, has a slim lead in Minnesota, according to the polls.
Heading into Super Tuesday, Donald Trump leads with 82 delegates, followed by Cruz 17 delegates, Marco Rubio’s 16 delegates, John Kasich’s six delegates and Ben Carson’s four delegates.
Though Maryland doesn’t vote until April, Carson’s campaign said Monday he is having his election night celebration at the Grand Hotel in Baltimore. That could signal, if the results are disappointing, that Carson might be preparing to exit the race from the city where he worked as a neurosurgeon.
In a fundraising email last week, Carson acknowledged the necessity of doing well Tuesday. “Without a strong showing,” Carson said, “it’s going to be very tough for my campaign. That’s the honest truth.”
Like Carson, Kasich, the Ohio governor, has faced calls to leave the race because of poor performances in most early contests. But Kasich, who came in second in New Hampshire but hasn’t done well anywhere else, seems likely to stay in until at least March 15, when his state of Ohio votes.
The Republican race for president has gotten particularly nasty in recent days, with Rubio ramping up his attacks on Trump.
In many cases, Rubio seems to be trying to out-Trump Trump by hurling personal insults: he has accused Trump of “small hands,” saying: “You know what they say about men with small hands … you can’t trust ‘em!” Making fun of Trump’s skin color, Rubio said: “Donald is not going to make America great. He’s going to make America orange!” Rubio has also mocked Trump’s behavior at the debate, claiming the New York businessman requested a full length mirror at one point. “Maybe to make sure his pants weren’t wet.”
Trump has responded by repeatedly referring to the senator as “little Marco.”
“Little Marco Rubio is just another Washington D.C. politician that is all talk and no action,” the candidate tweeted over the weekend.
Trump’s critics on Monday continued to hammer the candidate over his handling of a Sunday CNN interview where he was asked whether he disavows himself from David Duke, a former member of the KKK who has publicly praised him.
Trump, in the Sunday interview, declined to condemn Duke. But speaking to the Today Show on Monday, Trump blamed that response on “a bad earpiece,” saying he “could hardly hear” the interviewer and pointing out that he had “disavowed Duke the day before.”Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential candidate, reacted with condemnation of Trump on Monday: “A disqualifying & disgusting response by @realDonaldTrump to the KKK. His coddling of repugnant bigotry is not in the character of America.”
Trump has benefited in recent days from a series of high-profile endorsements, including from former rival and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.
The Sessions endorsement, made during a rally at a high school football stadium in Alabama on Sunday, is especially disappointing for Cruz, who routinely tells audiences he “stood with” Sessions during the immigration debate and who has long hoped to do well in the southern states.