Opinion writer

* Jenna Johnson reports that everything’s going the way senior Republicans have hoped:

At a rally in southwest Virginia on Monday, Republican front-runner Donald Trump again told an apocryphal story about a general killing Muslim terrorists with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood. In Tennessee on Saturday, he promised to bar Syrians from the country “until we find out what the hell is going on.”

In Oklahoma City the night before, he launched into a passionate defense of waterboarding after a protester flashed a sign reading “Islamophobia is not the answer.”

And every time, the crowd roared with deafening cheers.

Along with his attacks on illegal immigrants, Trump’s willingness to go further than any of his GOP rivals in casting suspicions on Muslims has horrified many Republican establishment figures and has attracted widespread condemnation from both parties.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: that stuff is going to disappear as soon as Trump has to face a general electorate. And what are those cheering now going to think then?

* Something tells us that this sort of headline is only going to get more common as the GOP primaries get more intense and Trump looks like he’s tightening his grip on the nomination: “Guard chokeslams photographer at Trump rally in Virginia.”

* Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn endorsed Marco Rubio, saying that Donald Trump is “perpetuating a fraud.”

* A new Monmouth University poll shows Donald Trump with clear leads in Oklahoma and Alabama. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has a big lead in Alabama while Bernie Sanders has a small lead in Oklahoma.

* A new national Morning Consult poll shows that Trump is only increasing his lead over Cruz and Rubio; it’s now at 30 points. On the Democratic side, Clinton leads Sanders by 16 points.

* Manu Raju reports on the first of what could become a trend: a Democratic candidate’s brutal new ad tying her opponent to Trump. In this case, it’s Ann Kirkpatrick, who’s running against Senator John McCain of Arizona.

* Tal Kopan reports that while Marco Rubio does very well with late-deciding voters, there simply may not be enough of them on Super Tuesday to help him win anywhere.

* E. J. Dionne argues that Super Tuesday only exaggerates the already substantial degree to which the GOP has become a party dominated by the South.

* Nate Silver argues that we shouldn’t assume conservatives will rally behind Donald Trump if he wins the Republican nomination.

* Kerem Ozan Kalkan presents poll data showing that Republican voters who show the highest levels of ethnocentrism are most likely to like Donald Trump.

* At the American Prospect, I argued that Marco Rubio is right that Donald Trump is a con man. Which makes his supporters the worst thing to be: suckers.

* Jonathan Bernstein makes the case that Hillary Clinton is all but certain to win the Dem nomination, meaning Bernie Sanders now needs to ask what what he will do with his considerable newfound influence as a genuine national leader.

* Barbara Perry notes that one-third of the Supreme Court justices in American history nominated during an election year, and presidents appointed justices six times in the time between the election and when their successors replaced them.

To which Republicans responded, “Yeah, but none of them were named Obama, so there!”

* And something amazing happened on the Supreme Court today, as Clarence Thomas stepped into the void created by Antonin Scalia’s death:

Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday broke his 10-year streak of not asking questions during oral arguments, one of the public’s most enduring curiosities about the Supreme Court.

Thomas stunned the courtroom by speaking up during a low-profile case involving a federal law that bans people convicted of domestic violence from owning a gun. Thomas asked whether conviction for breaking any other law suspends a person’s constitutional rights.

Thomas stopped Assistant Solicitor General Ilana H. Eisenstein just as she was about to stop presenting her case.

“Ms. Eisenstein, just one question,” Thomas said.

“Can you give me — this is a misdemeanor violation. It suspends a constitutional right. Can you give me another area where a misdemeanor violation suspends a constitutional right?”

So just to clarify, after 10 years he finally spoke up in defense of the right of domestic abusers to buy guns. Inspiring!