And now, here is a very special message from catholicvote.org:
It’s Ash Wednesday.
And Donald Trump has notched his first victory.
Here is our take on the state of play for each of the candidates and the 2016 race:
Donald Trump: Trump is unmistakably now the frontrunner. Yet he remains far from inevitable. We have explained why we believe GOP voters should nominate someone other than Trump. Trump did well last night, but questions remain whether he can succeed in caucuses -- where grassroots activists and party loyalists dominate (think Iowa). Expect to see massive dollars come off the sidelines to stop Trump in SC and beyond. While he leads in polls, some rightly wonder whether he has a ceiling. Kasich/Christie/Bush/Rubio/Fiorina combined for 49% of the vote last night -- a full 14 percentage points higher than Trump. As the field inevitably winnows and voters consolidate, Trump could stall. We hope so.
Ted Cruz: Don’t underestimate Ted Cruz. No one expected Cruz to perform well in New Hampshire, where large numbers of independent voters often reward moderate Republicans. Ted Cruz spent just $800,000 in New Hampshire while Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio spent a combined $70 million in the state! Broken down to dollars per vote, Bush spent $1,200 per vote, Rubio spent $500 per vote, while Ted Cruz spent just $18 per vote. And yet all placed behind Ted Cruz. There can be no doubt about it: Ted Cruz has built a strong data-driven campaign that will not be easily defeated. After New Hampshire, the map looks very good for Cruz, and he remains a clear favorite for the nomination.
Marco Rubio: It’s rare in politics for a candidate to own up for his own failure. Rubio told supporters last night: “I did not do well in Saturday’s debate. That will never happen again.” His rare debate hiccup proved costly. While Rubio is taking all the blame, Rick Santorum’s inability to mention a single Rubio accomplishment while boosting his campaign on MSNBC’s Morning Joe last week also proved very damaging. The clip became a commercial which blanketed New Hampshire in the final few days. Rubio remains a formidable contender and must shine in the next debate this Saturday. He must also convince the anti-Trump voters that he is the better choice over Jeb/Kasich.
Jeb Bush: It took $35 million to win 11% of the vote in NH. While we admire a lot of things about Jeb’s record in Florida, his negative ratings among Republicans and voters generally will be very difficult to overcome. His campaign has considerable resources which can fund attacks on Rubio and Kasich -- along with the help of an appearance by his brother and former President George W. in South Carolina this weekend. Nevertheless, it’s unlikely America will elect a third Bush president this year.
John Kasich: The Ohio governor was the surprise ‘establishment’ victor last night finishing second with nearly 16% of the vote. But Kasich will come back to earth in South Carolina, where the better organized and better funded campaigns of Cruz, Rubio and Jeb will crush him. His path to victory looks to March with Michigan or Virginia to prove he’s not a one-hit wonder.
Carly Fiorina: Moments ago, Carly Fiorina announced that she has suspended her campaign. There’s no doubt that Carly Fiorina was an intelligent candidate and one of the most skilled communicators in the Republican Party. But she did not raise the money necessary to assemble a national campaign, and thus was forced to rely largely on her debate performances. We expect her name to be mentioned often as a Vice Presidential option.
Ben Carson: He didn’t campaign aggressively in New Hampshire. Instead he has focused his attention on South Carolina, Florida, and other southern states with more Evangelical voters. Carson needs a strong performance in South Carolina to get back into the race. But he’s fighting momentum that has swung to Ted Cruz.
Chris Christie: Chris Christie has also suspended his presidential campaign. He’ll be most remembered in this campaign for delivering a critical hit against Marco Rubio in Saturday’s debate. In that same debate, Christie aggressively argued that babies born of rape and incest can be killed “in self defense” -- so we are happy to see him go. Look for talk about Christie as the next Attorney General should the GOP win in November. Unless Rubio wins, of course.
Hillary Clinton: She tied Bernie Sanders in Iowa and was crushed in New Hampshire. When you look at the data, it’s clear that large swaths of the Democratic Party do not trust her. She now heads south where she is expected to do much better aided by the support of minority voters. In South Carolina for instance more than half of Democratic primary voters are black. Expect a media coronation of Hillary if she wins in South Carolina.
Bernie Sanders: If Sanders can cut into Hillary’s support with black voters, he may very well unravel her campaign. Sanders’ candidacy is growing in intensity and must be taken seriously. The likelihood of a long and protracted Democratic primary appears inevitable. Of greatest concern are the ideas driving his campaign (race/class/sex warfare, attacks on business, massive taxation and redistribution pledges along with promises for total government takeover of healthcare and college education and more). There are already voices arguing that Catholic social teaching and socialism are compatible. Whether Sanders succeeds or not, the ‘political revolution’ is real and will not go away. Catholic voters may be especially vulnerable to certain aspects of this appeal. We think this revolution must be vigorously opposed.
Who do you think Catholics should support?
Wishing you a blessed Lent.