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Super Tuesday Belonged to Trump, But the White House May Be Beyond Him

02/03/2016 16:37 GMT | Updated 03/03/2017 10:12 GMT

Super Tuesday solidified the positions of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as favourites for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees. While neither got the clean sweep which some predicted, it was a strong showing for both front runners.

In reality, there were few surprises on the night in either race as the polls were proved to be largely accurate. It was a sobering night for Mr Trump's two biggest rivals, Texas senator Ted Cruz and Florida senator Marco Rubio. There was little evidence of the Republican establishment coalescing around Mr Rubio, nor of Mr Cruz attracting support from outside of his evangelical, Tea Party base. Notably, Mr Rubio failed to hit the 20% threshold to earn any delegates in Alabama, Texas and Vermont.

For the Democrats, Bernie Sanders - whose fundraising capability has been impressive, particularly among small donors - performed slightly better than was expected, suggesting that his message on reducing inequality is resonating. He vowed to fight on to the Democrat convention. By hanging on, even with little hope of winning the nomination, he will hope to drag Ms Clinton's campaign leftwards, forcing her to evaluate her positions on Wall Street and big business.

Above all, Super Tuesday belonged to Mr Trump. At a victory party in Florida he took a noticeably less adversarial tone. He pledged to be a "unifier", suggesting that he is growing increasingly confident of representing the right in November's presidential election. He remains some way off that goal: Super Tuesday took his delegate count to at least 284. A total of 1,237 is required to secure the nomination. But for as long as Mr Rubio and Mr Cruz continue to split the remaining vote - and we expect both to remain in the race in the coming months - a Trump nomination looks increasingly assured.

A Trump nomination is, however, very different from a Trump presidency.

Despite the fact he has confounded expectations thus far, we believe he will be defeated comfortably by Ms Clinton. Three factors will be crucial:

• First, the famed Clinton attack machine, along with the full resources of the Democratic Party, will be trained on Mr Trump. We have noted the relatively easy ride that he has enjoyed in the Republican race, but this will change when the presidency is at stake. Ms Clinton will identify his weaknesses--his temperament, his mixed business record, his bullying approach to diplomacy and his lack of political experience--and exploit them in debates and attack ads.

• Second, Mr Trump is a polarising candidate who is deeply disliked by much of the electorate. In the multi-candidate Republican primary this has not been an issue, because he has not had to win a majority of the vote in order to win each of the contests. However, in the presidential election, he will find it difficult to appeal to swing voters.

• Third, Ms Clinton has demographics on her side. The US is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, and both she and the Democratic Party are popular with black and Hispanic voters. The Republican Party acknowledged its need to broaden its appeal amid the fallout from Mitt Romney's loss in 2012. However, Mr Trump's Islamophobia and xenophobia, which he has made no attempt to hide in his campaign, have pushed the party in the opposite direction.