Trump Crushes New England Primaries: “It’s Over”
Donald Trump was always expected to sweep the board on Tuesday, but his decisive victories in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Connecticut shattered the long-running assumption that he couldn’t expand his appeal beyond 30% of the Republican electorate. Proving that his landslide win in New York was no fluke, Trump dominated New England by winning more than half the vote in each state. In Rhode Island and Delaware, he actually pushed past 60%. Trump may be no closer to winning over the GOP establishment, but it’s clear that the voters themselves are coming around.
In his victory speech, Trump once again dismissed the possibility of an open convention. “When a boxer knocks out the other boxer, you don’t have to wait around for a decision,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s over.”
In any other year, he would be right. Mathematically, he is the only one of the three remaining candidates who can reach 1,237 delegates and lock up the Republican nomination on the first ballot.
But that’s not the game his opponents are playing. Ohio Governor John Kasich and Texas Senator Ted Cruz are aligned with a single mission: keep Trump from hitting that magic number. If they can accomplish that goal, many experts believe it will be nearly impossible for Trump to overcome a hostile delegate takeover on subsequent ballots. Then again, if 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that we should take experts predictions with a grain of salt.
Now the spotlight turns to Indiana. Cruz delivered a speech there Tuesday night, using the gym where Hoosiers was filmed to make a symbolic point about counting the underdog out. “Tonight,” Cruz said, “this campaign moves back to more favorable terrain.”
In Indiana, Cruz belatedly gets what he always wanted: the chance to go one on one with Trump. Kasich will be on the ballot, but his campaign will not spend any time or money in the state. If the plan works and Kasich supporters strategically shift their votes to Cruz, it would make it very difficult for Trump to wrap up the nomination before the convention. But that’s a big “if.” Two things are working against Cruz: tens of thousands of Indiana voters have already cast their ballots, and Trump has a tremendous amount of momentum.
But that’s not all. Voters – even those who support Kasich and/or Cruz – do not seem thrilled about this cynical alliance. It’s one thing to fight for victory, another thing to spoil it for your rival. When a candidate for president can’t even tell voters to vote for him, you can’t blame anyone who says, “Then what the hell are you doing?”
Polls show that the overwhelming majority of Republicans believe that the candidate with the most delegates going into Cleveland should be the nominee. The RNC can choose to ignore that, but there will be consequences.