Surprising - the scale of Trump's win. This should have been natural territory for Cruz and yet Trump appears to have won among self-identified evangelicals. Apparently being three times divorced and flip-flopping on abortion doesn't matter to them so much as having a racist, Pope-baiting bigot representing them. For giggles, here's the Washington Post guide to who Trump has most insulted.
Cruz tried playing up all of Trump's negatives and still came third, another surprise. Rubio came second and again I say that if Cruz had an ounce of sense or dedication to his party he'd drop out and throw his support to Rubio. But this is the guy who'd shut down the country if it gave him a bigger stage to stand on, so no that's not happening. Cruz - our 21st-century Nero - will be in this fight until the convention, which means at this point I don't see anything that can stop Trump, other than Trump himself. Since I've been waiting for essentially his entire campaign for that to happen I give it low odds right now. Trump's a loose cannon but he has a very good team around him that may be able to contain damage.
If there's a glimmer of light for Rubio in this voting it's that polls show him winning pretty strongly in late deciders. That is, Trump has his core of support and so does Cruz, but among those who are not in the core it seems Rubio is able to influence them and bring them in. I don't know what the polls look like for upcoming Super Tuesday states but if there is a large undecided block out there and Rubio can repeat this performance he may yet make headway against Trump. I think he wins that fight by being positive, continuing to tell his story and promote his message rather than going the Cruz route and attacking Trump directly.
Trump underperformed his polls in South Carolina by a few points, but probably close to margin of error. That's good for Rubio in that there might be some way to erode the edges of Trump's support but mostly it's bad news for Trump in that he doesn't seem able to build on his current leads. If he polls in the 35-40% area consistently nationwide, Hilary is going hand him his shiny ass in the general election. He has to show he can not just beat his rivals, but build a winning voting coalition. If Rubio has an upside then he's got to make it visible soon or Trump is going to have too big a lead in delegates.
Not surprising - over on the Democratic side, I think Sanders is in big trouble. He hasn't significantly pulled up his numbers among older voters and voters of color, both of which are going to be important factors in Super Tuesday contests. He's chipping away at Hilary's lead in broad polls but like Rubio he's facing a ticking delegate clock. Also like Rubio, he's making some inroads on core Clinton's support- particularly Latinos, it seems - but that isn't going to be enough to overcome her delegate advantage. Bernie math does not look good now and I predict it's going to look terrible after Super Tuesday.