Following a weak Saturday, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio won a dominant victory in the Puerto Rico primary. He became the first contender in the race to win a majority of the raw vote, thus turning the race into a winner-take-all proposition. He appears on track to sweep the island's 23 bound delegates, more than were assigned in the New Hampshire primary, by comparison. The victory represents a needed shot in the arm for Rubio, whose mediocre-to-poor showings over the past week have battered his campaign. It was his second outright win of the cycle, the other being a double-digit victory in Minnesota. Here's the island's former Republican governor calling it for Rubio:
Importantly for Trump opponents, this weekend has witnessed five nominating contests, of which the frontrunner got blown out in three (Kansas and Maine by Cruz, Puerto Rico by Rubio). Trump's two weekend wins in Kentucky and Louisiana were relatively narrow triumphs over Cruz. As we and others have written previously, Trump remains a strong frontrunner, but that status is not prohibitive:
If Rubio gets all 23, the weekend delegate count is Cruz 68, Trump 53, Rubio 36, Kasich 10 (+11 unpledged in LA)— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) March 6, 2016
By that count, Cruz plus Rubio plus Kasich pulled in 114 delegates this weekend, compared to Trump's 53. That is not the mark of someone who is running away with the nomination. Here's the overall delegate picture at the moment. All of Trump's rivals have a vested interest in rooting for various non-Trump contenders to siphon off delegates, with the ultimate goal of denying Trump the 1,237 delegates he'd need to clinch the nomination outright. March 15 will be a crucial date within this context, with large winner-take-all prices up for grabs. A Rubio loss in Florida and/or a Kasich loss in Ohio would deal lethal blows to the loser's campaign, and would represent a major boon to Trump. Home state wins would split up delegate hauls and significantly increase the likelihood of a contested convention in Cleveland. Basically, this:
I don't care which candidate you like- once you play around with the delegate math you realize the only Q is whether or not Trump hits 1237.— Liam Donovan (@LPDonovan) March 6, 2016
Adjust your rooting interests or concerns accordingly, Republicans. GOP voters will head to the polls in four states on Tuesday, then two more on Saturday, prior to Super Duper Tuesday on March 15. CNN and Salem Radio Network will host a debate this coming Thursday evening in Miami, Florida.
100% reporting, Rubio wins 71% of the vote in Puerto Rico, sweeping 23 delegates. Trump won less than 1/3 delegates allocated this weekend.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) March 7, 2016