By Matt Towery –
By the time the dust settled in Tuesday’s “Super Tuesday 2.0 contests,” Donald Trump had at least three states in the win corner and had amassed 621 total delegates. He was out-performing his own target delegate count that he needs to win his party’s nomination. His popular vote total from all contests was more than 7.5 million votes following Tuesday.
An increasing number of analysts believe that Trump is now virtually unstoppable, having steamrolled through the golden prize of Florida. Yet there remains the argument that one of his opponents is viable enough to compete with Trump in the remaining primaries, and could still manage to pull off an upset for the nomination.
Ted Cruz ended Tuesday’s voting with a sizeable patchwork of 396 total delegates. He had amassed a popular vote total from all of the contests held of nearly 5.5 million votes. Not Trump levels, but impressive all the same.
Then there is John Kasich, who remains the last challenger to Trump and Cruz standing. But even after carrying the winner-take-all Ohio primary, where he was running as a popular sitting governor, Kasich had earned only 138 total delegates, and had only his home turf to claim as a victory.
There are two other “candidates” in the race for the GOP nomination, even though they are not officially on the ballot.
One of those candidates is the GOP’s longstanding establishment, which was, in the eyes of just about everyone, eliminated from this year’s grab for power on Tuesday evening. In Florida, where their Super PACs ran endless attacks against Trump, leaving little room for local car dealerships, “injury attorneys” or merchants to run their usual retinue of ads, the message fell flat. Floridians gave Trump a resounding victory and sent the establishment choice, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, packing.
By the end of the night, the old-line back room corporate-, consultant-, and lobbyist-led GOP of the past three decades had blown its money and its best efforts with absolutely nothing to show for it. Rubio will recover from all this, but the establishment won’t.
Another “undeclared candidate,” a cadre of conservative activists and donors, remained in the background, determined to stop Trump by any means possible, thereby making way for “a real conservative” to be the Republican nominee. To their credit, many in this group have more altruistic reasons for their position. But one of their additional motivating factors is that Trump has not only failed to kiss the ring of their leaders, but has written them off as irrelevant to a Trump victory.
For these “keepers of the conservative cause,” the strong victories for Trump in states like Florida and Illinois make their goal of a brokered convention appear to be, in the words of Newt Gingrich, “childish nonsense.” That would leave this group two alternatives in denying Trump the nomination. One makes some sense, the other does not.
The illogical alternative is to run a third party against Trump should he prevail in winning the Republican nomination. Given the strength of Trump’s populist movement, that would likely end up with the establishment’s alternative candidate polling well beneath both Trump and the now obvious Democratic nominee-in-waiting, Hillary Clinton, in November. Such a move would destroy the GOP and marginalize the conservative movement.
The more obvious approach is for these anti-Trump forces to embrace Cruz. While not beloved in the circles of D.C. power, Cruz could be their one and only conservative purist. The problem is that Cruz has as much disdain for most of these would-be power brokers as Trump does.
But like Trump, Cruz also knows the art of the deal — at least the political deal. Don’t be shocked if he starts making those deals in the coming days.
But to stop Trump, the reinvigorated Kasich would have to leave the scene immediately. A three-man race going into states like Arizona, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania leaves little political oxygen for Cruz and Kasich if both remain “in the room” with Trump.
It still remains likely that Donald Trump wins the GOP nomination. But any chance to change that requires an immediate recognition that this is now a Trump-Cruz contest. Any effort to “go rogue” by either conservative leaders or an establishment that is in in tatters would guarantee a Trump nomination or GOP destruction.
Matt Towery is a nationally syndicated columnist, pollster, author and attorney. He is the author of the new book “Newsvesting: Use News and Opinion to Grow Your Personal Wealth.” To find out more about Matt Towery and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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