The first major debate between GOP candidates was held today ahead of the primaries later this month, and more importantly, Super Tuesday. The debate covered all different portions of topics from domestic and foreign policy, along with a discussion of electability concerning Huntsman's recent independent campaign. First topic was the Kurdistan movement that has been building up significant support in recent years, including recent support by President Biden. Cruz has stated that he would be in firm support of it, since a strong Islamic US ally could be created in order to be a stalwart against Iraq and Iran. Brown and Rubio both expressed support, but let it be known that they are against getting involved in the Middle East, and will only step in if something extremely serious occurs. Cruz came back by saying the other candidates were being cowardly in the face of human rights abuses and that America's enemies needed to be punished.
The next topic was global warming, which was something that has not ever been a major topic in Republican candidate debates. President Biden, as you probably well know, has been pushing to install solar panels on a vast number of homes as well as pushing American auto manufacturers to produce electric vehicles through tax breaks, and the GOP candidates were asked how they would amend the program if elected. Cruz threaded lightly on the subject, and only definitively stated that he would stop making "risky" investments in solar panel companies that fail somewhat often. Rubio stated that he would push for more offshore drilling and that he feels the president's current plan relies to heavy on foreign manufacturing, which is what he wanted to get away from. Brown adovcated for heavier investment nuclear power instead of solar, but was quick to criticize Cruz's remark about risky investment in solar panels, saying that oil and natural gas are much more risky investments in everything except money.
Finally, they talked about healthcare reform, which is something that has been a polarizing issue in the country since the debate over Obamacare in 2009 and more recently with Bidencare and Veteran's Care (known as VHC). This was one of the few points that Rubio and Cruz agreed on. They both stated that much of Obamacare needed to be repealed but with VHC remaining mostly intact due to the Korean War being relatively fresh in America's mind. Meanwhile, Brown prefered to reform some points, such as doing away with the single payer mandate entirely, but felt that getting rid of it entirely would be ruinous to America's poor. Brown went on to say: "You [Rubio and Cruz] are out of touch, but at least Cruz knows where he stands." This visibly irritated Rubio, but he made no attempt to comeback aside from rolling eyes.
In the end, polls showed most people prefered Brown and Rubio's performance over Cruz, mostly to his inability to make a decent point or a comeback on the global warming policy question. Some analysts are also divided over Brown's "agressive" performance, with some calling it common sense and others calling it plain rude. This debate likely won't have a big effect on upcoming primaries, but Brown could put many more states into play.
We can project Rubio has clenched a strong victory in Michigan, our first state of the night to be called. The state has been polling pretty solidly in favor of Rubio since the beginning, so it is little of a surprise but still a very nice boost in delegates to the Rubio campaign.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida: 51.5%
Governor Scott Brown of Massachusetts: 24%
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas: 23.5%
On the Democratic side of the contests, we can easily call Gillibrand for the state of Michigan. She has been polling solidly ahead in this states and there was little to no chance of Hickenlooper or Schweitzer winning and eastern general Demcoratic state. Hickenlooper has chosen to campaign in states that he can win, such as some southern states and western states.
Vice President Kirsten Gillibrand of New York: 62%
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development John Hickenlooper of Colorado: 29%
Secretary of Agriculture Brian Schweitzer of Montana: 9%
After the results were released, Secretary Schweitzer stated that he is suspending his campaign for the sake of party unity. The only contest that he had a chance of winning was his home state, Montana.
Despite a poor performance in the debate earlier this month, Cruz has held on to his strong conservative support base to pull off a victory in the state of Arizona. The Arizona GOP has a strong Tea Party base, so a victory in Arizona shouldn't be too surprising, but it is still a big relief for the Cruz campaign that he can win victories.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas: 43.5%
Governor Scott Brown of Massachusetts: 34%
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida: 21.5%
We can call two victories in a row for Cruz tonight with Wyoming going for Cruz. The heavily conservative state was polling in his favor all along, so this should be little of a surprise. However, it still helps the Cruz campaign pick up lost momentum, which is critical if he still wants the nomination.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas: 53.5%
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida: 29%
Governor Scott Brown of Massachusetts: 16.5%
ANN can project that Rubio has won the contest in Washington, which is an enormous victory for his campaign. He was polling pretty solidly in the state all along, but has recently been challenged by Brown in the state, trying to capitalize on his appeal to Republican voters in generally Democratic states. Washington does not hold an enormous amount of delegates, but it is enough to give Rubio a lead in delegates. A victory also helps to hold back Brown's momentum.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida: 41.4%
Governor Scott Brown of Massachusetts: 39.5%
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas: 18.1%
We can finally project that Brown has won the contest in Maine. Brown may have been served a big defeat tonight, but he is still fighting hard and this win gives him some of his momentum back. His campaign strategy was to capitalize on what made him appeal to New Hampshire voters, and brought it to Maine, which was a strategy that obviously worked. It is still yet to be seen if Brown can make it to candidacy. If we compare this to the similar 2016 situation, Ayotte was already in a viable second place before Super Tuesday, which Brown doesn't have. Brown has stated that he will avoid the fate of Jeb Bush if at all possible.
Governor Scott Brown of Massachusetts: 45.1%
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida: 37.5%
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas: 16.4%
This is the last contest before Super Tuesday. It is looking like Super Tuesday will not do anything major for any of the candidates, but Hickenlooper and Brown have to make it big if they want to have a viable shot at their party's nomination. Please tune in March 6 for coverage of Super Tuesday on ANN.
SUPER TUESDAY CONTESTS MAINTAIN STANDINGS
Hickenlooper gains slightly, Rubio and Cruz in lock with Brown catching up
The big day in the primary season, Super Tuesday, where both parties have contests in 18 states and territories, has just concluded, and we can state that it has not drastically changed anything for the Democratic or Republican parties.
On the Republican side, Rubio and Cruz both did fairly well, but Cruz had enough victories to put him a slim 19 delegates behind Rubio, the current leader. Brown is lagging rather far behind in third place, but he made a big victory in his home state of Massachusetts along with a victory in Vermont, not to mention the fact that he came in at second place in about half of the contests. For the rest of the season, the candidates are vying for the big states. California could go for Brown or Rubio, while Texas will likely go for Cruz. New York is looking to be in favor of Brown, which would be an enormous boost to him if he did end up winning the state. The major battleground is shaping up to be Pennsylavnia. Brown's appeal in the northwest region, Cruz's support from conservatives, and Rubio's appeal to minorities and generally apathetic voters has turned the state into a three way toss up.
Next, we have the Democratic results. Gillibrand has won most of contests and delegates, and is currently fairly far in the lead delegate wise. However, more than ever she needs to watch out for Hickenlooper. He won a decent amount of contests and made a huge upset in Virginia, which puts his campaign back on track after being on a long losing streak post-Minnesota. Hickenlooper still has to fight Hardin he wants to win, since Gillibrand has a lead in the big contests of California, Texas, and New York.
Another notable event today was Huntsman and Sandoval's campaign blitz, focusing on the theme "more of the same." Huntsman pushed the reasoning that if the status quo of Democrats or Republicans is maintained, then nothing will ever get accomplished, and that he is the only candidate who could truly work on both sides of the aisle. Sandoval campaigned in Reno, Nevada, trying to get supporters from his home state. Their campaign hopes that Huntsman winning the state with him on the ticket in 2016 and Sandoval's popularity will get the state of Nevada polling solid independent. The GOP and Democrats are being put at a disadvantage that Huntsman/Sandoval can already start general election campaigning by while they have to wait until August to do so. All we at ANN can say is that this election is shaping up to likely be a very close one.