- - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Watching Super Tuesday results with Callista last night was fascinating.

During the day, we had attended a Gov. John Kasich town hall meeting a few blocks from our office. He and his wife, Karen, did a great job. Their daughters completed the image of a wholesome and loving midwestern family.

That night, the Super Tuesday we watched was a little different from the news media’s version.

First, neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump have yet gained enough delegates to guarantee their nomination. There is a big difference between carrying a state and sweeping its delegates. Many states award them proportionally.

Mr. Trump has a greater challenge than Mrs. Clinton because he still faces three opponents.

Despite carrying seven states Tuesday night, Mr. Trump’s share of delegates was nibbled at on three fronts. Sen. Ted Cruz carried Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska. Sen. Marco Rubio did very well in Virginia (closing the gap dramatically in the last week) and won the Minnesota caucuses. Mr. Kasich split the Vermont delegates evenly with Mr. Trump. Because of proportional representation, winning the popular vote did not necessarily mean running away with the delegate count.

The result of this three-way fight was that Mr. Trump’s total (316 delegates) is actually smaller than that of his combined rivals (365 delegates).

In the primary process so far, Mr. Trump has a sizable lead but not yet a majority. He has won 3.3 million votes, Mr. Cruz has won 2.8 million, Mr. Rubio 2.1 million, and Mr. Kasich and Ben Carson about half a million each.

The establishment class sees a slim chance to gang up on Mr. Trump and deny him a majority of the delegates. This slender potential has the establishment in a frenzy.

If candidates and their SuperPACs can generate enough attacks, they might have a chance to stop Mr. Trump.

If Mr. Rubio and Mr. Cruz can team up on Mr. Trump in a few more debates (like they did in Houston), they might have a chance to stop Mr. Trump.

If Mr. Rubio can win Florida and Mr. Kasich can win Ohio, they might have a chance to stop Mr. Trump (since both are winner-take-all-states).

The next few weeks are their last chance. This is why the establishment is now driven to desperation. There will be no holds barred. The ads and the debate and the stump speeches will be savage and relentless.

They are stunned that Mr. Trump has been able to dominate the race in ways they never thought possible.

Matt Towery was prescient when he predicted well over a year ago that a Trump campaign would be quite different. Mr. Towery, a nationally syndicated columnist, pollster and author of the new book Newsvesting, predicted the following back in December 2014:

“The elite media will scoff at a potential Donald Trump candidacy for president. They will consider it a publicity move — and a bluff. The Washington insiders will write off Trump as completely unqualified to be a presidential candidate, much less president.

“And as usual, they will be wrong. I have no earthly idea if Trump could actually win the GOP nomination or defeat the likes of Hillary Clinton in the general election. Certainly Jeb Bush’s decision to explore a presidential run makes him the likely candidate of the GOP establishment, cutting Mitt Romney off at the pass. But neither big name politicians nor a dismissive Washington, D.C. press corps should dissuade Trump from running for president.”

A HISTORIC PATTERN BUILDING

All of this energy is building up to a historic pattern. “Fox and Friends” had an amazing chart this morning. In state after state GOP turnout is up and Democratic turnout is down. This could be a very big indicator of the fall outcome. 

It will be remarkable to watch how this pattern develops over the next few months — and to see whether Mr. Trump remains underestimated.

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