Let’s collectively release that breath we’ve been holding—it’s time to call a spade a spade. Yes, Donald Trump is most likely going to be the presidential nominee for the Republican Party.
Those words seemed unfathomable even a month or two ago—remember when we laughed at him as he came down that escalator?!—yet they’re sadly true. The American people have spoken. Trump has now won New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada by a landslide, beating his nearest rivals by 20, 10, and 22 percent respectively. There’s no statistical reason to believe this won’t continue.
Mathematical Path To Victory
Let’s break down the remaining states. The Republican Party has structured their primaries so that many states are on a winner-take-all basis when it comes to delegates. This system, designed to help weed out weaker candidates, has backfired and allowed the GOP’s nightmare to take full advantage. The two biggest states with the winner-take-all policy are Ohio and Florida; Ohio awards 66 delegates, and Florida, 99. Both of these states vote on March 15.
Trump is currently leading in Ohio by five points (beating its own governor, John Kasich), and Florida by 7, beating Marco Rubio in his home state, which is frankly pathetic for an establishment candidate bathed in corporate donations.
Trump needs 1,237 delegates to receive the Republican nomination. As the Washington Post outlines, if you do all the math, even giving Trump a conservative number of the proportional delegates and none of the delegates the RNC awards, he still comes away with “1,246 delegates — or nine more than he would need to be the party’s official nominee at the party convention in Cleveland in July.”
Even overlooking the math for a minute, if we consider the history of Republican primaries, this nomination is almost inevitable. In 80 years of Republican caucuses and primaries, not once has a candidate who won both New Hampshire and South Carolina lost the nomination. Nevada only further cements this.
Now, this is no ironclad guarantee for Trump—if anything, this very strange election has proven anything is possible. There is a miniscule chance either Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio could step up and defeat Trump by a slim margin for the nomination.
FiveThirtyEight posits Rubio’s path to nomination:
“Rubio’s increasingly tenuous path depends on his ability to win a series of winner-take-all states with high proportions of white-collar, college-educated Republicans, most critically his home state of Florida on March 15…
However, to move beyond wishful thinking and achieve such tactical victories, Rubio will need to consolidate much more of the non-Trump vote and rapidly grow his support in Democratic-leaning areas in an extremely compressed window of time.”
So there’s a small chance the establishment and corporate money could triumph, but it’s not looking good for the GOP.
The General Election
However, with Trump as the nominee, the question becomes now what? Pundits and political analysts have spent months attempting to work around the fact that Trump is dominating national polls, instead focusing on the increasingly inconsequential second-place race between Rubio and Cruz.
It’s important to consider what Trump’s actual chances are in a general election, against either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.
According to an aggregate polling model created by the Huffington Post, Clinton would defeat Trump in a general election by 48.2 to 43.7 percent. Even more remarkably, Sanders would thoroughly defeat him 50.6 to 41.4 percent.
This is great news for Democrats, and the country. Twenty-eight percent of Republicans have definitively said they would never vote for Trump—a percentage higher than for any other candidate. Losing 28 percent of the Republican vote almost guarantees he could not take the White House.
There will still be incredibly significant ramifications due to his rise to power, however. The GOP will be permanently fractured; as Politico notes, “Suddenly, there are three strands of the Republicanism, each entrenched and vying for supremacy…Ted Cruz is the leader of the traditional conservative purists. Marco Rubio is emerging from the mud of a multi-candidate brawl to lead the once-dominant, now diminished, mainstream lane of the GOP. But it is Trump’s new alliance of angry populists that is ascendant — and on the precipice of dominance.”
Trump now represents a previously small faction of the Republican Party—the extremely angry, socioeconomically disadvantaged who are looking to pin their economic struggles on a scapegoat (which Trump has conveniently deemed the immigrants).
It is truly frightening for America’s future that this large majority of the country would support a racist, sexist, xenophobic bully to be the leader of the most powerful country on earth. It’s horrific that Trump has demolished all boundaries of logic, dignity, and decency and has been embraced for doing so. It demonstrates how far the voters of the GOP have fallen—and what their party has done over the past few decades to cause love for such a leader.
But the stronger, better voices of America will hopefully prevail. The fact that both Clinton and Sanders beat Trump nationally is encouraging. His vitriol toward minorities will hurt him; 93 percent of Latinos in Nevada did not vote for Trump, and Univision is launching a campaign to register 3 million new Latino voters, which does not bode well for him in the general election.
Trump may get the Republican nomination, but he’s still a very long way from the White House.