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How did South Carolina and Nevada change the 2016 race?

With one more contest down and one less contender in the 2016 race, Donald Trump celebrated his solid victory in South Carolina as the remaining GOP hopefuls prepared for new battlegrounds.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    With one more contest down and one less opponent to battle, the Republican presidential candidates spent the day scrambling for the next round of votes. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton expanded her lead over Democrat Bernie Sanders. With Jeb Bush now out of the race, and Trump with another solid victory in hand, Republicans moved to consolidate.

    DONALD TRUMP (R), Republican Presidential Candidate: We won with everything. We won with women. I love the women. We won with women.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • DONALD TRUMP:

    we won with men. I would rather win with women, to be honest. We won with everything, tall people, short people, fat people, skinny people, just won.

    SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), Republican Presidential Candidate: The field is narrower now, but you still have names to pick from, and maybe you like a couple of people in this race and you are trying to decide between us. So I'm not here to bad-mouth anybody else.

    GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), Republican Presidential Candidate: Coming out of New Hampshire for the first time, my voice is being heard. And, you know, for that whole long period of time, we couldn't get anybody in the press to pay attention. And now they're finally beginning to hear. And now this morning, here in Virginia, we have about 1,000 people that have come to hear a voice of experience, accomplishment.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    And then today Rubio locked horns with Ted Cruz after Cruz's communications director erroneously accused Rubio of criticizing the Bible. The Cruz aide, Rick Tyler, was fired.

    So, the fight for money, for endorsements and for credibility is on.

    And we turn to Politics Monday with Tamara Keith of NPR and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report.

    As I say every week, where to begin?

    Let's talk about the Republicans, Amy, especially what looks like a three-man race.

  • AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report:

    Yes.

    This Saturday definitely consolidated the field in a way that we were expecting to see it happen after New Hampshire. It didn't. But with Jeb Bush dropping out and Carson not getting much vote, John Kasich is still in the race. As he noted, he thinks he is going to be able to pick up some momentum when we get out to March 1.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    And, of course, when he gets heard, sometimes, it's for his stumbles as much as for anything else.

  • AMY WALTER:

    Sometimes, it's for his stumbles. And the reality is, there is just not a lot of support there for John Kasich.

    It really is Marco Rubio now who is getting the so-called establishment lane to himself. Every minute, it seems, we're getting another update of another senator, another governor, another member of Congress endorsing Marco Rubio. The real question now is, is it too late? Did they wait too late to consolidate to stop Donald Trump?

  • GWEN IFILL:

    I did — my e-mail box, like yours, has been full of endorsements all day coming from establishment, senators, members of Congress for Marco Rubio, but I wonder whether the establishment lane exists in an election year when Donald Trump does so well.

  • TAMARA KEITH, NPR:

    Well, and we keep wondering whether the establishment lane really exists.

    And I think that if it were anyone else at the top of this field who had won New Hampshire and won South Carolina, we wouldn't even be having a discussion about who's going to overtake him.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Right.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    But it's Donald Trump, and so the discussion continues, because there are a lot of people in the Republican Party and in the media and everywhere else who are like, really? Really, this is going to happen?

    But he is, at the moment, very much the front-runner. He's running a very unconventional campaign. We're now getting into a part of the race where it becomes more of a national campaign than a state-by-state, hand-by-hand kind of race, and he's been running that kind of campaign all along.

  • AMY WALTER:

    Though I would argue, if it were any other candidate who had negatives as high as Donald Trump does, which right now among all voters, his very negatives are at 50 percent, he is the most polarizing candidate in the Republican field now that Jeb Bush is gone. He was the second most polarizing, most polarizing in the field.

    There is still a lot of angst among Republicans about having him at the top.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    But think about this for a moment. Today's little dust-up between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who did that help in the end? It helps Donald Trump, right?

  • AMY WALTER:

    Yes. Absolutely.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Because Donald Trump gets to stand by while they fight each other.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    And he tweeted about it gleefully.

  • AMY WALTER:

    Yes, thank you for doing that.

    In fact, when you look at the amount of money that is being spent on attack ads, the lion's share of it has gone actually to attack Marco Rubio. Very little money has been spent going after Donald Trump, at least in the paid media. And certainly we don't see it all that much even on the debate stage. We see a little skirmish, but there's not been a concerted effort.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    And if there were?

  • AMY WALTER:

    And that's what a lot of people are wondering.

    And here's what I — I had to write this down, but I think there are three R's right now going on with the Republicans writ large, resignation, reluctance, rationalization. All of that is, they're sort of in some ways resigned to, well, maybe Trump can win because it seems like we can't figure out a way to beat him, a reluctance to really challenge him, as I said, not a lot of money been spent going after him, especially by outside groups, and rationalization, this idea that, well, maybe Trump won't be that bad, maybe he could be a general election candidate.

    After all, Hillary Clinton is really vulnerable. After all, she could be indicted. And, look, he's bringing out all these new voters. But they're forgetting that a general election looks a whole lot different than a primary.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    A word about Jeb Bush. What happened? When we sat here a year ago, we were talking about how he was clearly ahead. He raised tons of money, and yet he's completely out of the race.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    And I think he said it best, which is that he heard the voters,and the voters told him that they just didn't — they didn't want what he was selling.

    And I think what he was selling is a brand of establishment politics. He is the insider's insider. He had all of that money, and voters are attracted to a guy who says he can't be bought.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Well, speaking of someone who says he can't be bought, let's talk about Bernie Sanders, who didn't have a good weekend, and now is trying to come up with a strategy which looks like it's more about delegate-picking than anything else.

  • AMY WALTER:

    The challenge for Bernie Sanders is that the delegate system that the Democrats have is actually incredibly helpful for underdogs, and it makes it — it's supposed to make it harder for somebody like Hillary Clinton, an establishment candidate, to build up a big lead, because delegates are awarded proportionately. You can win a state by a million votes.

    You still only get a certain number of delegates. The challenge for Bernie Sanders right now is that he hasn't done well enough in the states he should be doing well in, that he's not building a delegate lead. And so the math is going to start to get really difficult for him, because, if he keeps losing states that look like Nevada, South Carolina, a lot of these Southern states, he can't just make it up by running the table in some other states.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    And, in fact, when he talks about running the table in states like Minnesota, and Colorado, Massachusetts, Vermont, he doesn't even say — he says that I have a shot there.

  • AMY WALTER:

    Right.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Let's talk about Hillary Clinton, though. She's already leapfrogged ahead to Texas, even though Saturday — I mean, even though this week is South Carolina.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    Yes. Yes.

    And she flew directly from Nevada to Texas. Texas is the biggest delegate prize on Super Tuesday, and she's also playing a delegate game and she wants to maximize the delegates where she can get them in places like Texas. She expects to do very well in South Carolina. She has a strong lead among African-Americans, and the entrance polls in Nevada are very good news for her on that front, because she absolutely dominated among African-Americans.

    The story isn't quite as clear with Latino voters. It seems as though she and Bernie Sanders split Latino voters.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    But I do remember that the Clintons have spent a lot of time. In fact, Bill Clinton has spent a lot of time on the ground in Texas over the years, and so the groundwork has been laid there.

  • AMY WALTER:

    Absolutely.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Does Bernie Sanders — did he ever get the young voter turnout that he was counting on?

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    That's the big issue here.

    Bernie Sanders talks about building a revolution. And the revolution is smaller than the revolution that Barack Obama built. The voter turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire and now in Nevada is not nearly as high as it was in 2008. But, in 2008, you had Barack Obama vs. Hillary Clinton. I mean, it's historic. It's a fight for the ages.

    This time around, Bernie Sanders has huge enthusiasm, but Republicans are turning out more voters than Democrats. And that has to be a worry for Democrats heading into the general election.

  • AMY WALTER:

    In fact, if you even dig further into the turnout numbers, what you see is that people who are under the age of 30 are a smaller percent than they were in 2008, and people who are over the age of 65 are a bigger percent than they were in 2008.

    She does much better with older voters. He does much better with younger voters. So, it becomes something of a wash.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    You begin to see their path.

  • AMY WALTER:

    That's right.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Amy Walter of Cook Political Report, Tamara Keith of NPR, thank you all.

  • TAMARA KEITH:

    You're welcome.

  • AMY WALTER:

    You're welcome.

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