Danger Signs for Trump and Clinton

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Supporters of Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who came to her rally in costume as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Clinton, attend her Super Tuesday night party in Miami on March 1. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

This article first appeared on the London School of Economics site.

Last night, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton did what they had to do: win and win big.

Trump scored a decisive set of victories. While not the clean sweep polls were predicting (Cruz won Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska, and Marco Rubio took Minnesota), Trump's victories were impressive in the remaining seven states, where he scored high across geographic and demographic divides.

Clinton's triumph over Sanders was also impressive. Building on her big victory in South Carolina last Saturday, she romped throughout the Deep South and importantly, bested the Vermont Senator in neighboring Massachusetts, whose liberal orientation and demographics made it ripe for his anti-establishment candidacy.

Trump and Clinton have now become the favorites to win their respective party nominations, if they weren't already. Both come away with the lion's share of delegates from yesterday's contests and have the clearest path to securing the magic number of delegates needed to win the nomination (1,237 for Trump; 2,382 for Clinton).

Having said that, there is little reason to expect any of the other candidates to drop out before March 15 when states with large numbers of delegates, like Florida and Ohio vote.

On the Republican side, Cruz got some juice with his victories in Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska, though it is still hard to see a path-forward-to-victory for him.

Rubio remains afloat, but he took on a lot of water when the votes were tallied last night. Having gone head-to-head with Trump in last week's debate, he has little to show for his efforts.

John Kasich, the Ohio Governor, performed well enough in Vermont and Massachusetts, where he came in second to Trump, to soldier on to the Michigan and Ohio primaries in the coming days.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Sanders, who is flush with cash from small donors, won enough states (Vermont, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Colorado) to take his anti-Wall Street candidacy forward, even if it no longer seems feasible for him to catch Clinton in the all-important delegate count.

Their impressive victories notwithstanding, there were also danger signs for Trump and Clinton in yesterday's vote.

In Trump's case, exit polls indicate that a full 25 percent of voters making up their minds in the past few days voted for other candidates. Given the intense scrutiny he received for not disavowing the endorsement by David Duke, the former KKK wizard, fast or unambiguously enough, it seems likely that moderate-leaning late-deciding Republicans broke against Trump—something the Democrats would surely exploit in any general campaign if Trump is the Republican candidate.

Meanwhile, Clinton's big strengths continue to be non-white and older voters, as well as women. She won the African-American and Hispanic votes by large margins yesterday and did well again with women. But she continues to struggle with white male voters (Sanders took 55 percent of them) and younger voters (Sanders took 64 percent of voters under 30 years of age).

This proved to be less of problem yesterday, because young voters did not turn out the way they did in Iowa and New Hampshire, but will likely remain an issue for her as the rest of the primary season unfolds.

Peter Trubowitz is associate fellow, Americas Programme, at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs.This article gives his views and not the position of USAPP–American Politics and Policy nor the London School of Economics.

Danger Signs for Trump and Clinton | Opinion