Here was last night's scoreboard:
States won: Trump 7 (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia)
Cruz 3 (Alaska, Oklahoma, Texas)
Rubio 1 (Minnesota)
Vote Pct: Trump 35.3%, Cruz 29.9%, Rubio 22.5%
Delegates: Trump 234, Cruz 209, Rubio 90
Overall Delegate Count: Trump 319, Cruz 226, Rubio 106
An overall win for Trump? Well, it wasn't the blowout that the polls predicted, and he's still hovering around that 30%-35% range, but yes, it was a victory, because these were "road games" for him, outside of Massachusetts, where he won an outright majority (50.6%), and Vermont, where he was battling Kasich, with the two freshmen senators as afterthoughts. Dixie was where Cruz needed to run the table in blowout fashion in order to build a big lead in order to absorb the Trump romps to come in "bluer" States, many of which will be winner-take-all. Even if Cruz had broken 50% in his home State and taken all 155 of Texas's delegates, he'd still be three delegates behind Trump going into the cerulean portion of the primary schedule.
On the "too damned many candidates" front, Rubio cost Cruz Arkansas and Cruz cost Rubio Virginia, so that was pretty much a wash. Rubio also might have cost Cruz an outright majority in Texas as well, which probably helps explain why Cruz has vowed to "make a strong play" for Rubio's winner-take-all home State of Florida, most likely handing Trump all 99 of its delegates as well, assuming he wouldn't have won there regardless. Cruz can't, but if Rubio could, that might bring him close to parity with Cruz and bolster the flagging long-shot chances of a brokered convention. Which wouldn't revive any possibility of an actual Republican winning in November, since half the party will stay home on Election Day one way or the other, but might at least purge Trump out of the GOP system.
One additional factor that should be borne in mind is that all but two of yesterday's GOP contests were "open," where anybody, not just Republicans, could vote. In those two closed primaries (Alaska and Oklahoma), Ted Cruz emerged the victor, as he did in Iowa (but not Nevada). Most of the primaries upcoming in the next couple of weeks will be closed. So there's that.
For what it's worth, Trump debuted his "Nixon strategy" last night, discussing the party he's hostiley taken over on La Clinton Nostra's behalf like it was his latest casino or university or whatever - "We’re going to be a much bigger party. We’re going to be an expanded party. We’re going to win in November," yada yada yada, blah blah blah. How he's going to accomplish that without most movement conservatives is probably a question he isn't going to be asked much, because the media knows the answer to it as well as we do, and that's just peachy-keen fine to them.
Will more also-rans finally take the hint and quit? Are you kidding? John Kasich has Michigan and Ohio, HIS home State, coming up, and he almost bested Trump in BERNIE SANDERS' home State, so he's not going anywhere for at least another fortnight. Ben Carson, who has a grand total of eight, count 'em, EIGHT delegates is still babbling on about his "We the People" movement continuing and his "millions of patriots" urging him on, even though he's skipping the next GOP debate (he probably wanted to announce it in advance so that people might actually notice that he isn't on-stage in Detroit Thursday night) and admits finally even he sees no path to the Republican nomination for himself now. But he's got his "brand" to carry on, and officially quitting the race would damage it, and the Doc just can't have that, now can he? Unless Donald "See? I don't love the KKK, some of my best friends are Negroes" Trump makes him a better offer, anyway.
The jig looks like it's up for Senator Rubio as well, judging by the vote and delegate tallies, the media buzzards circling above his campaign, and the way he turned his long-declared "Super Tuesday is my firewall" vow on its eureka-ed head this morning:
Fox's Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier weren't buying Rubio's spin either:
Is Rubes justified in fighting on? Eh. He would, or so the conventional wisdom goes, do better in the onrushing "bluer" State contests than Cruz will, but then so will Trump. Essentially, the dynamic is Trump narrowly edging Cruz on his "home" turf and Trump trouncing Rubio on his - including Florida, where he's up by sixteen points, according to the latest surveys.
The likely end result of a "three-way dance"? Trump wins a delegate majority anyway, gaining the marginal additional numbers of them needed to do so from Cruz and Rubio taking turns submarining each other, as in Texas last night and Florida two weeks from now.
Bottom line: Trump didn't effectively clinch the GOP nomination on last night's results in and of themselves; but with the undying self-destructive dynamic of the "Not-Trumpers" figured in, it's only a matter of time.
Were these Trumplicans acting on The Donald's direct orders? Almost certainly not. But I'll say it again, folks: You are known by the company you keep. Which is why I'm pretty sure that's why Shiya Nwanguma was at that Trump rally, provoking precisely this visual. I hope Trumplicans are ready for another eight months of this kind of thing, and will eventually understand why we TRUE conservatives aren't riding shotgun on it.