The idea that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas actually won the Super Tuesday contests may seem curious at first. After all, Donald Trump won more states and more delegates. However, the way these things are judged is by expectations. Trump way underperformed what the pundits and the polls predicted and Cruz way overperformed. Even Marco Rubio won a state, Minnesota, and came close to winning Virginia.

The conventional wisdom had been that Trump was going to “run the table” as they say in gambling, picking up ten states at least and perhaps even taking Texas away from Cruz. Instead, he won just seven states, with Cruz picking up Texas, Oklahoma, and Alaska. The last must be as bitter gall and wormwood to former Gov. Sarah Palin, who perhaps unwisely endorsed Trump over her political soulmate Cruz.

Why did Trump fail to meet expectations? Very likely it is because, belatedly, Rubio and to a certain extent Cruz has started to hammer him in earnest. Some of the rhetoric coming out of Rubio’s mouth may have seemed indecorous, but it has had the desired effect of undermining Trump. However, Rubio will have to win his home state of Florida on March 15 or else the last dregs of the argument for his candidacy will have been swept away. The same applies to Gov. John Kasich and his home state of Ohio.

The fact that Cruz is now in a position to become the anti-Trump and rally to him the 65 percent or so of Republicans who will not support the mercurial real estate tycoon was best illustrated when Sen. Lindsey Graham groused that Republicans must now support him. Graham, as can be recalled, recently joked about Cruz’s murder and that the United States Senate so detests him that it would not convict his murderer if called upon.

The bottom line, as Michael Barone suggested, is that the nomination race is not over on the Republican side. Remember, neither Cruz nor Rubio has to lock in a majority of delegates. They just have to prevent Trump from doing so. Then comes the dream of political reporters everywhere, a brokered convention, with the tea party (Cruz) and the establishment (Rubio) combining to stop Trump and forming what many think would be the dream ticket to trounce Hillary Clinton in November. #Election 2016 #GOP #Democrats vs Republicans