Last night, we had a test in the American South: how would White Southerners respond to preening lectures about “racism” from two Cubans running on an extreme “pro-life” platform with the full-throated support of the Republican establishment, Conservatism, Inc., and the vast majority of evangelical leaders?
And the result?
1.) In Alabama, Donald Trump won every county in the state and beat Ted Cruz here by 22 points.
2.) In Arkansas, Donald Trump beat Ted Cruz by 2 points. This is almost certainly due to the fact that Arkansas had a closed primary and far more voters who are registered Democrats and couldn’t crossover to vote in the Republican primary.
3.) In Georgia, Donald Trump beat Ted Cruz by 15 points. Cruz didn’t carry a single county in Georgia. Trump beat Cruz soundly in Macon and Warner Robins which are the home of Erick Erickson and Steve Berman. As for Rubio, he couldn’t win outside Atlanta and Athens.
4.) In Tennessee, Donald Trump beat Ted Cruz by 14 points. Cruz didn’t win a single county in Tennessee. Marco Rubio won a single county in suburban Nashville.
5.) In Virginia, Donald Trump beat Marco Rubio by 3 points. Ted Cruz didn’t win a single county in Virginia. The Beltway suburbs in NOVA weren’t enough to lift Rubio to victory.
Ted Cruz had a great night in Texas where he won by 17 points in his home state. He also won Oklahoma by 6 points. As with Arkansas, this is likely due to the fact that Oklahoma was a closed primary. Unfortunately for Ted Cruz, there won’t be another Texas in the upcoming contests. He hasn’t a single county east of the Mississippi.
6.) In South Carolina, Ted Cruz beat Marco Rubio by 10 points. Ted Cruz didn’t win a single county in South Carolina. Rubio was unable to win outside Charleston and Columbia.
Where do we go next? Kentucky and Louisiana vote on Saturday. Mississippi votes next Tuesday. Florida, North Carolina, and Missouri vote on March 15. With the exception of Maryland and West Virginia, the whole South will have voted by March 15. By winning Texas, Oklahoma, and Alaska, Ted Cruz has an excuse to stay in the race and continue to divide the anti-Trump vote.
In the remaining Southern states, the David Duke endorsement will probably HELP Donald Trump in Mississippi and Louisiana. In Missouri, Trump will almost certainly be confronted by Black Lives Matter protesters in St. Louis, who will make a big scene in a state that is more racially polarized than ever before after Ferguson. In Florida, transplants from New York and New Jersey will carry Trump to victory.
Trump will destroy his rivals in West Virginia – it is the most heavily White working class state in the country and consistently one of his best states. North Carolina has been hit harder by free-trade than any other Southern state. Unless the race dramatically consolidates before March 15th, it is unimaginable that Trump would lose North Carolina after winning South Carolina and Virginia.
So, what does all this tell us?
1.) Ted Cruz is pretty much done because his strategy was premised on his non-existent appeal to Southern evangelical Christians and conservatives. He’s won enough of them, however, to stay in the race as a spoiler through March 15th.
2.) Marco Rubio has two weeks to convince New York and New Jersey transplants in his own state and evangelical Christians in the Panhandle to vote against Donald Trump. That’s not going to happen.
3.) The South is far less “conservative” than it is made out to be. The religiosity of the Deep South is wildly exaggerated. For generations, White Southerners have been voting against the Democrats, not for the Republican or “true conservative” economic platform. Guess what? No one cares what the National Review has to say here.
How is a man like Donald Trump who is the embodiment of “New York values” winning in landslides across the Deep South? The answer is National Populism.
Note: If Texas pride wasn’t a factor in that race, Trump would have probably won there too.