Donald Trump Overwhelms G.O.P Rivals From Alabama To Massachusetts In Super Tuesday


Donald J. Trump won sweeping victories across the South and in New England on Tuesday, a show of strength in the Republican primary campaign that underscored the breadth of his appeal and helped him begin to amass a wide delegate advantage despite growing resistance to his candidacy among party leaders.

Mr. Trump’s political coalition — with his lopsided victories in Alabama, Georgia, Massachusetts and Tennessee, and narrower ones in Arkansas, Vermont and Virginia — appears to have transcended the regional and ideological divisions that have shaped the Republican Party in recent years.

With strong support from low-income white voters, especially those without college degrees, he dominated in moderate, secular-leaning Massachusetts just as easily as he did in the conservative and heavily evangelical Deep South.

Brandishing his Super Tuesday victories as proof of his political might, Mr. Trump said he expected to consolidate the Republican Party behind his campaign.

“I am a unifier,” he told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., after the winners of about half the day’s contests had been declared. “Once we get all of this finished, I am going to go after one person: Hillary Clinton.”

Senator Ted Cruz reasserted himself with victories in his home state, Texas, in neighboring Oklahoma and in Alaska, earning a reprieve as he fends off questions about his viability. The wins strengthened his case that he is the only alternative capable of overtaking Mr. Trump.

The results were a grievous setback for Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who has insistently argued that among the Republican candidates, only he has the political standing to compete with Mr. Trump in a head-to-head race. Mr. Rubio’s backers have urged other candidates to stand down and allow him a clean shot at Mr. Trump, who is a polarizing figure even among Republican primary voters.

Mr. Cruz outpolled Mr. Rubio in many of the states that voted on Tuesday, however, especially in the South, and was the only candidate other than Mr. Trump to win more than one state. Though Mr. Rubio handily won the Minnesota caucuses, his otherwise limp finish may have cost him any leverage he had to demand that other candidates defer to him.


Still, Mr. Rubio urged Republicans not to give up hope of thwarting Mr. Trump.

“Do not give in to the fear, do not give in to anger, do not give in to sham artists and con artists who try to take advantage of your suffering,” he said in Miami. “I will campaign as long as it takes and wherever it takes to ensure that I am the next president of the United States.”

In the states Mr. Trump carried, there was a smattering of resistance in a band of relatively affluent suburbs, including areas outside Atlanta and Washington that supported Mr. Rubio, and areas around Boston that voted for Gov. John Kasich of Ohio.
Republican strategists have expressed fear that in the general election, Mr. Trump would struggle to win the support of suburban women and white-collar voters who might otherwise lean Republican but might recoil from his caustic and racially charged approach to politics.
Several of the states that Mr. Trump won, including Massachusetts and Tennessee, had appeared at one point to be favorable to a mainstream opponent, and Mr. Rubio and Mr. Kasich both visited those states often.

But no candidate invested more in success on Super Tuesday than Mr. Cruz, who spent many days last year campaigning across the South, far afield of the first nominating states, Iowa and New Hampshire.

Mr. Cruz has argued consistently that only a candidate with an unblemished conservative record could mount a strong challenge to Mr. Trump over the long run. The outcome in Texas, the most populous state to vote on Tuesday, will also increase his delegate count as candidates jockey for position in a potentially contested Republican National Convention.

Still, Mr. Cruz also showed the limits of his political reach: He did not come close to Mr. Trump in much of the South, he failed to resonate in more moderate Massachusetts and Virginia, and the lineup of states that vote later in March may be less hospitable to his brand of rigidly ideological politics.

Mr. Cruz, appearing in Stafford, Tex., boasted of his victories but acknowledged that the splintered opposition would make Mr. Trump difficult to stop.

“So long as the field remains divided, Donald Trump’s path to the nomination remains more likely, and that would be a disaster for Republicans, for conservatives and for the nation,” he said, referring to Mr. Trump as “profane and vulgar.”

Mr. Cruz did not directly mention Mr. Rubio, but pleaded with those rivals who had not had similar successes in the primaries to “prayerfully consider coming together” to halt Mr. Trump.

Both Mr. Cruz and Mr. Rubio have adopted a survival strategy geared less toward defeating Mr. Trump outright than toward denying him the delegates he needs to clinch the nomination before the summer convention.

But the stakes for the party’s anti-Trump forces have risen in recent days: With Mr. Trump’s initial refusal on Sunday to disavow the support of the Ku Klux Klan and its former grand wizard David Duke, only his latest inflammatory episode, he reinforced the fears of Republican leaders that nominating him would be a historic mistake for the party.

Republicans have been increasingly outspoken in recent days, warning that if Mr. Trump is the nominee, it will consign the party to a general election catastrophe.

Party leaders embarked on a last-ditch effort in recent weeks to throw up a united front of resistance to Mr. Trump, perhaps by clearing the field of opponents so that a single challenger can compete with him, or by directing a late wave of negative advertising against Mr. Trump in the biggest states that award their delegates in March.

On Tuesday, several financial patrons of the Republican Party organized a phone call to drum up funding for an anti-Trump effort. Helping lead the call were the hedge-fund manager Paul E. Singer, the Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts and Meg Whitman, the Hewlett-Packard executive and former candidate for governor of California. It is unclear what kind of political offensive may emerge from those discussions.
A handful of outside groups have announced plans to attack Mr. Trump in television commercials in the coming weeks, including a “super PAC” backed by Mr. Ricketts and a conservative nonprofit group, the American Future Fund, that has unveiled ads blasting Mr. Trump for backing a failed education company that is being sued for fraud.
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Without some sort of extraordinary external intervention or an act of political sacrifice from one or more of his opponents, the only real prospect of stopping Mr. Trump’s nomination may come through the political equivalent of a gang tackle, with a cluster of candidates effectively banding together to accrue delegates and deny Mr. Trump a majority.

Advisers to Mr. Rubio and Mr. Kasich have acknowledged that a contested convention may be their most realistic chance at claiming the Republican nomination, and that they may have a better chance of blocking Mr. Trump from winning the 1,237 delegates he needs to be nominated than of taking a majority themselves.

Mr. Trump added at least 190 delegates, for a total of over 270, extending his advantage to more than triple the delegates of Mr. Cruz, his nearest rival. But because Tuesday’s contests allocated delegates proportionally, his victories fell short of offering him an impregnable lead. Mr. Rubio, however, was in danger of failing to reach the vote threshold, 20 percent, to receive any at-large delegates in Alabama, Texas and Vermont.

In a sign of his determination to lock up the nomination swiftly, Mr. Trump visited two symbolically important states on Super Tuesday: Ohio, where Mr. Kasich is governor, and Florida, Mr. Rubio’s home state.


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