Take a good look at the photograph above. More and more it looks like the choice that we’re going to face in November.
Just over a month ago, on Jan. 17, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, speaking of Donald Trump, said, “The guy’s entertaining for sure. But he’s not going to win the nomination. And I am.”
Fast forward to yesterday morning and you find Jeb Bush out of the GOP nomination race and Donald Trump beginning to look unstoppable.
Trump has now won three of the first four events in the contest to become the Republican nominee for president. Tuesday night was his best performance so far.
Predictions of Trump’s eventual implosion – which began minutes after he announced last June and have come from both Republicans and Democrats – have not come to pass and now seem unlikely to do so.
Trump’s somewhat surprising loss to Ted Cruz last month in the Iowa caucuses – the kickoff event to the nomination season – displayed the lack of a “ground game,” a serious deficiency according to experts.
Trump answered that criticism by winning New Hampshire by 20 points (where he outpolled Ted Cruz by 24 points), South Carolina by 10 (outpolling Ted Cruz by 20) and last night in Nevada by 22 (outpolling Ted Cruz by 25).
Trump won every demographic in Nevada. Men, women, old, young, white, black and Hispanic. College educated, non-college educated. White collar, blue collar.
Every single demographic group.
Conventional wisdom held that support for Trump had hit a “ceiling” at about 35 percent of Republican voters. Pundits repeatedly explained that as candidates began to throw in the towel, their former supporters would coalesce behind someone (anyone) other than Trump. That would then turn the contest into a true three-man race consisting of Trump, Rubio and Cruz.
So the experts said.
Yet, with Jeb Bush out of the race by the time it got to Nevada, Trump’s margin over his two principal rivals increased by 12 points – more than 35 percent – as compared to South Carolina a week earlier. Bush’s absence did nothing for either Cruz or Rubio.
Speaking of Ted Cruz, as good a night as it was for Trump, it was terrible for Cruz. Cruz’s nightmare now is to either barely squeak by Trump next week here in his home state of Texas or to actually lose to Trump. The Emerson College poll, the latest one taken in Texas, now has Cruz ahead of Trump by only a single point.
What this all means is that Republicans – most particularly Republicans who more closely identify with mainstream “establishment” candidates – had better get used to the idea that Donald Trump is going to be the GOP nominee. He leads now in every Super Tuesday state save for Arkansas and Texas. And it’s within the margin of error in Texas.
That means either get behind Trump – no matter how distasteful – or enable a Hillary Clinton victory. Because it doesn’t look like the Donald Trump implosion is going to happen.
I know that many Republicans hope that I’m wrong.
I don’t think that I am.