Twelve states hold their primaries on March 1, and the outcome could determine once and for all who the 2016 presidential nominees are for Republicans and Democrats. But there are also state primaries that could have a big impact on the general election this year. Here are four things for bankers to watch out for:
Sen. Richard Shelby
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., is facing a primary challenge from Jonathan McConnell, a 33-year old businessman and former Marine. Shelby is considered the heavy favorite and received significant contributions from the banking industry, but he hasn't left anything to chance. He's spent the majority of the past three months campaigning in his home state in an effort to ensure he doesn't get upset a fate that befell other Republicans like Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia during the last election cycle.
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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won big in South Carolina over the weekend, beating rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., 73%-26%. The question is whether she can now put the race away. Bankers are backing Clinton in the Democratic race, opposing Sanders anti-bank rhetoric. Clinton is expected to outperform Sanders in delegate-heavy states Texas, Georgia and Virginia. Sanders should win his home state of Vermont and the latest polls show only a slight edge for Clinton in Massachusetts. But if she performs well in southern states, it could spell the beginning of the end for Sanders.
Until recently, many in the media assumed New York businessman would flame out long before Super Tuesday, dismissing him as a side show. But Trump is now the frontrunner in 11 of the 12 states, the sole exception being Sen. Ted Cruz's home state of Texas. However, the polls don't include the results of last week's debate, in which Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is widely considered to have scored some hits on Trump, or more recent controversy over Trump's refusal to distance himself from white supremacist groups. Many bankers are privately hoping Trump loses on Tuesday, worried he is a poor standard-bearer for the GOP.
Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio
Super Tuesday is do-or-die time for Cruz and Rubio to emerge as Trump's biggest competitor. Cruz is currently second in the national polls, according to Real Clear Politics, but his lead on Rubio has diminished over the last month. Rubio is also viewed as the establishment candidate and has benefited from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush dropping out of the race. Many bankers are hoping Rubio will survive Super Tuesday and pick up support as other candidates drop out.