By Sal Bommarito
The direction of the Republican primary is now abundantly clear. Nevertheless, there could be some landmines down the road for Donald Trump, the front runner.
Trump is doing exceptionally well despite a growing sentiment against him among the Republican establishment. Trump has denigrated this group of political hacks in his campaign. He’s received tremendous support from voters who want a change from the status quo.
Trump is kicking butt. Yet, he still must contend with some nagging issues. First and foremost, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have refused to yield to Trump.
Cruz won in Texas, as was expected; it’s his home state. Additionally, he won in conservative Oklahoma. The evangelical candidate now has three primary victories and boasts that he’s the only Republican who can stop the Trump tsunami. The problem is that Cruz has not been as strong as he thought he would be in the conservative southern states; Trump has shown remarkable strength among the religious right. And now, the candidates move north and west where Cruz will find it difficult to be competitive .
Marco Rubio eked out his first primary victory in Minnesota but finished a disappointing third in five out of ten states in play yesterday. He will gain increased support versus Cruz in northern and western states, but is expected to fall far short of Trump in those places. If Rubio doesn’t win in Florida, his home state, on March 15, his campaign is effectively over even if he doesn’t concede.
The staying power and determination of his opponents is frustrating Trump who would like to redirect his venom towards Hillary Clinton. Each concession by other Republican candidates is helpful to him. Most of Cruz’s supporters would likely accrue to Trump if he conceded. A large percentage of Rubio’s more moderate followers would also go to Trump.
Bewildering analysts is the stubborn reactions by Kasich and Carson after their dismal performances in the past few weeks. Kasich is hoping to win in his home state of Ohio on March 15. It’s a winner take all state meaning that the candidate with a plurality gets all the delegates. In any case, a victory in Ohio would not improve Kasich’s chances to win the primary, but it would make him a power broker of sorts. It’s likely that his support would split between Trump and Rubio if he dropped out before the Ohio primary.
Carson’s refusal to concede is absurd. He never had any chance to convince voters that he could govern the country. His impending concession will yield Trump and Cruz most of his support.
The only real risk to Trump is a scenario in which he doesn’t obtain 1,237 delegates (a majority of the total number of delegates) before the convention. He currently has 285 (Cruz has 161 and Rubio has 87). Without a majority, the primary winner would be decided at the convention (referred to as a “brokered convention”). More states are winner take all in the upcoming weeks, which should favor Trump and enable him to attract the requisite delegates.
For you information, if no candidate has a majority of delegates on the first ballot at the convention, it is considered a brokered convention. All regular delegates are free to vote for anyone after the first ballot. The delegates “horse-trade” to find a candidate who can obtain more than 50% of the delegates. How does President Ryan sound?