Donald Trump has nearly 100 more delegates than Ted Cruz at this point in the campaign, and a win in either of the winner-take-all states of Ohio and Florida on March 15 will probably seal the deal.
According to the polls, Trump is ahead in both states, although it’s been several weeks since any polling has been published. Most observers believe that the anti-Trump forces must find a way to stop The Donald by that date or he will breeze to the nomination.
Between now and those crucial primaries, the GOP will hold 9 contests, several of which set up well for the frontrunner. So what’s the chance that the anti-Trump forces currently amassing millions of dollars can succeed?
As voters in a large swath of the nation were delivering victories to Donald Trump in seven states this week, some of the wealthiest GOP donors gathered on a conference call with one goal: to stop the businessman from becoming the standard-bearer for the Republican Party.
That effort, to unite behind an anti-Trump super PAC, is the latest in a growing movement among establishment Republicans to rally around an alternative to the GOP front-runner.
“Donald Trump is unfit to be president. He is a dishonest demagogue who plays to our worst fears. Trump would take America on a dangerous journey,” Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Chief Executive Meg Whitman said over the weekend. Whitman, who ran unsuccessfully for California governor six years ago, was among the Republican donors on the Tuesday call, first reported by the New York Times.
But with Trump leading the delegate count over a fractured GOP field after coming off a dominating seven wins on Super Tuesday, some Republicans worry that it is too little, too late.
“The horses are out of the barn,” saidCraig Robinson, founder of the influential Iowa Republican blog. “We saw it [Tuesday] night – he’s showing strength across the board, and I think a lot of that is because of the narrative that people are now accepting him. People have come to terms with his candidacy.”
Robinson added that he was concerned by the notion of party elites trying to hand-pick a nominee over the will of the voters, saying it would set a dangerous precedent.
Other top Republican advisors concede that the effort would have had a greater likelihood of success if it started sooner, but they say they still have a chance to deny Trump delegates and force a nomination fight at the GOP convention.
“People’s perceptions on Donald Trump have been shaped by pretty much by Donald Trump over the last eight months. Now, in the space of a few weeks, we’re trying to reverse that. That is a significant challenge,” said GOP operative Kevin Madden.
Still, “the worse thing to do is to do nothing, so the fact there is an effort and it is focused on exposing Donald Trump and his vulnerabilities in an effort to get a real conservative and save the party is important enough for a lot of folks,” he said.
Not all big GOP donors are going to give to the effort to stop Trump. In fact, the biggest donors of all – the Koch brothers – are going to sit this one out.
The Koch brothers, the most powerful conservative mega donors in the United States, will not use their $400 million political arsenal to try to block Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s path to the presidential nomination, a spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday.
The decision by the billionaire industrialists is another setback to Republican establishment efforts to derail the New York real estate mogul’s bid for the White House, and follows speculation the Kochs would soon launch a “Trump Intervention.”
“We have no plans to get involved in the primary,” said James Davis, spokesman for Freedom Partners, the Koch brothers’ political umbrella group. He would not elaborate on what the brothers’ strategy would be for the Nov. 8 election to succeed Democratic President Barack Obama.
Three sources close to the Kochs said the brothers made the decision because they were concerned that spending millions of dollars attacking Trump would be money wasted, since they had not yet seen any attack on Trump stick.
The Kochs are shrewder than most. There simply is no upside to trying to take down Trump.
As for attempting to force a brokered convention, the rules and history are stacked against them. The hard fact is that unless Trump can be denied the 1237 delegates to clinch the nomination before the convention opens, all avenues for other candidates would be closed.
The effort against Trump will be unprecedented in size and scope – and fail miserably. Trump supporters appear immune to persuasion, especially from Republican establishment politicians. Unless Cruz or Rubio catches lightning ing a bottle, the race will be over by month’s end.