Is There Any Stopping the Trump Train?

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The former head of the Republican National Committee thinks that Donald Trump stands an excellent chance of being the party’s nominee. Michael Steele appeared on a radio station in Philadelphia on Friday, and he was asked if Trump could actually carry his phenomenal campaign all the way to victory.

“I’m gonna say this and I know people are going to scratch their heads and go ‘what?’ but I don’t think he can [be stopped],” Steele said on 1210 WPHT. “That window has closed and I think Donald Trump effectively closed it over the last couple of months. You tell me who stops him and when do they do it.”

Steele echoes the sentiments of many inside the Republican Party, who now see a Trump nomination as one of the most likely conclusions to the 2016 primary race. After months of denying that Trump was going to get the nomination, even his establishment foes are starting to wake up to the truth. There’s not going to be any implosion. He’s not just doing this to satisfy his ego. He’s not going to suddenly say the wrong thing.

“I don’t see how that momentum gets stopped right now,” Steele said. “I don’t know who breaks it. Come on, you’ve had eight months. You’ve had eight months to take him down.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan is apparently beginning to see the light as well. In an interview with Matt Lauer last week, he was asked if he would support Donald Trump if he were to win the nomination. “Yes I will,” Ryan said. “I’ll support whoever our nominee is.”

This is a startling contrast to the way establishment Republicans were talking about Trump even as recently as December. Most of them would just shut the question down, insisting that it was pointless to answer since “he’s not going to be the nominee.” But as we head into Iowa, Trump’s poll numbers nationally are as strong as they’ve ever been. Even Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged that it was “possible” that Trump could be the next president.

There may be no stronger argument, though, then the way the betting world is aligning behind Trump. There are no politics behind a site like Betfair, which only aims to present the mathematical odds. They predict a Trump victory, giving him 15 to 8 odds or a 34% chance of taking down the nomination. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are second and third in this account, respectively.

That all said, none of the votes are in and Trump certainly does not have Iowa locked up. According to FiveThirtyEight, Ted Cruz stands the strongest chance of winning the first primary race of the season. Accounting for both polls and endorsements, the analysts say that Cruz has a 51% chance of taking Iowa. How this affects subsequent primaries is anyone’s guess.

One individual, though, is still holding out hope. On Meet the Press this weekend, Jeb Bush said of Trump: “The guy’s entertaining, for sure. But he’s not going to win the nomination. I am.”

Dreams die hard.