Super Tuesday was Senator Ted Cruz's last ditch effort to pull his campaign out of its nosedive, and he might have just barely pulled it off.
Despite dire predictions and some dicey polls in the days leading up to the vote, the junior senator from Texas did manage to carry the Lone Star State in the Republican Primary, projected to win Tuesday night with about 40 percent of the vote. But still, there was a slightly funereal tone, like the Texas version of an Irish wake, to the watch party he held at the Redneck Country Club in Stafford.
The audience got feisty when Donald Trump delivered his speech on Fox News, which was broadcasting on every channel throughout the place. Trump mentioned winning, and a woman held up her glass and yelled back jauntily: "But not Texas!"
Still, it looks like nobody's going to win all 155 of the Texas electoral delegates in one fell swoop. The Republican Party of Texas rules state that a candidate would have to score at least 50 percent of the vote to win all 155, so each candidate who secured at least 20 percent of the vote will get an allotment of delegates for the Republican National Convention, as Frontloading HQ laid it out. If the major network projections turn out to be true, Cruz has fallen quite short of the win-all-the-delegates threshold.
Cruz spent Super Tuesday going from Dallas to San Antonio to Houston before ultimately ending up at the watch party in Stafford on Tuesday night, and that — alongside a large amount of money spent by pro-Cruz forces on ads right here in Texas — might have been the only thing that saved Cruz's campaign from being summarily defeated on Tuesday.
In the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton also had a big night Super Tuesday, winning seven states. For Clinton, her large win in Texas (65 percent to Bernie Sanders's 33 percent of primary voters) will likely be seen as a sign Sanders has yet to completely sway minority voters, who make up a large part of Texas's Democratic primary crowd.
While also projected to win in Oklahoma, Cruz still has a hard road ahead of him, and there's not a huge chance the road will end with the GOP nomination. Cruz has no allies in the U.S. Senate, has a record of cutting his convictions to fit the moment and if he had not at least managed to carry his home state, his campaign would have been circling the drain Tuesday night. Winning Texas, even with only 40 percent of the vote, technically means his campaign still has some life left in it.
Still, there's a chance the Cruz campaign may not be long for this world. Cruz didn't fare so well in the other Southern primaries, despite the fact that pro-Cruz forces outspent Rubio's supporters by almost two to one, according to NBC. Cruz's people ended up plunking down about $1.6 million in Georgia, $1.2 million in Tennessee and about $1 million right here in Texas. The Cruz backers spent more than $6 million total, and at the end of the night, Cruz limped over the finish line after Rubio, ending up in third place in most states, just as the polls in recent days had predicted.
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Lt. Governor Dan Patrick introduced Cruz to supporters Tuesday night: "We are the Republican establishment! Tonight, we told the liberal media and we told Donald Trump, don't mess with Texas! Who's going to be the next President of the United States?"
"Cruz!" the audience replied.
Cruz appeared onstage and celebrated his victories in Texas and Oklahoma, before asking the other non-Trump Republican opponents to drop out so they can all unite to defeat Trump. He promised to end "Obamacare," to establish a flat tax and to shut down the IRS. He promised to direct the U.S. Justice Department to investigate Planned Parenthood, and not to compromise with anyone. Basically, it was the usual Cruz stance and his speech was, like almost everything else on Tuesday night, all about Trump. Trump is just another corrupt Washington insider, Cruz told the crowd. They booed appreciatively in response.
"Enough with the Washington corruption." Cruz told the audience. "From this day forward, let us show that Reagan's love, faith and pride in the American people was not misplaced," he said. "Once again we can have morning in America."