The Corner

Politics & Policy

Cruz Surges, Trump Shows Vulnerability

Ted Cruz campaigns in Wichita, Ks., March 5, 2016. (J. Pat Carter/Getty)

It was a great night for Ted Cruz, and an encouraging one for opponents of Trump. The Texan won a smashing victory in Kansas and an unexpected one in Maine. Trump took Kentucky and Louisiana, the bigger states today, but only by narrow margins. The finish in Louisiana was particularly noteworthy. Trump had built up a big lead in the early voting, so big that the networks called it for Trump almost immediately on that basis, but Trump’s margin steadily eroded away as the votes that has been cast today came in. This was a sign that something had hurt Trump over the last several days–there are many things to choose from, but the debate looms particularly large. (The divergence between the early voting and the voting today is also a textbook case of why early voting is a bad idea.) Cruz’s big margins in his states and Trump’s narrow margins in his states mean, importantly, that Cruz gained on him a bit in the delegate count.

The other big story was the collapse of Marco Rubio, who wasn’t a factor anywhere. Something has clearly hurt him, whether the tone of his attacks on Trump, Trump’s constant belittling of him, his lackluster debate performance, or all of the above. Absent a surprise on Tuesday or a fantastic debate next week, Rubio is going to be limping into the political fight of his life in Florida a week from Tuesday.

It’d be mistake to make too much of tonight–Cruz’s wins came in caucuses, which favor him because of his organization and the intensity of his support–but it’s possible that Trump’s momentum has been checked, at least for the time being. Outside groups and the non-Trump candidates should consider it progress, and keep the pressure on him on all fronts.

 

Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

Most Popular

White House

The Trivialization of Impeachment

We have a serious governance problem. Our system is based on separation of powers, because liberty depends on preventing any component of the state from accumulating too much authority -- that’s how tyrants are born. For the system to work, the components have to be able to check each other: The federal and ... Read More
Elections

Put Up or Shut Up on These Accusations, Hillary

Look, one 2016 candidate being prone to wild and baseless accusations is enough. Appearing on Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s podcast, Hillary Clinton suggested that 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein was a “Russian asset,” that Republicans and Russians were promoting the Green Party, and ... Read More
Culture

Feminists Have Turned on Pornography

Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the feminist movement has sought to condemn traditional sexual ethics as repressive, misogynistic, and intolerant. As the 2010s come to a close, it might be fair to say that mainstream culture has reached the logical endpoint of this philosophy. Whereas older Americans ... Read More
PC Culture

Defiant Dave Chappelle

When Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special Sticks & Stones came out in August, the overwhelming response from critics was that it was offensive, unacceptable garbage. Inkoo Kang of Slate declared that Chappelle’s “jokes make you wince.” Garrett Martin, in the online magazine Paste, maintained that the ... Read More
U.S.

‘Texodus’ Bodes Badly for Republicans

‘I am a classically trained engineer," says Representative Will Hurd, a Texas Republican, "and I firmly believe in regression to the mean." Applying a concept from statistics to the randomness of today's politics is problematic. In any case, Hurd, 42, is not waiting for the regression of our politics from the ... Read More
White House

The Impeachment Defense That Doesn’t Work

If we’ve learned anything from the last couple of weeks, it’s that the “perfect phone call” defense of Trump and Ukraine doesn’t work. As Andy and I discussed on his podcast this week, the “perfect” defense allows the Democrats to score easy points by establishing that people in the administration ... Read More