Three weeks ago, after Donald Trump’s blowout performance in Nevada, I headlined a piece with “It’s Over.”
Unless Super Tuesday voters give us a big surprise, Trump is certain to pick up enough delegates to make him the presumptive nominee — assuming he isn’t already.
Super Tuesday came and went two weeks ago, and while voters gave us a couple of small surprises, the overall effort wasn’t enough to derail Trump. If I had to change anything in that post-Nevada column, I’d just make the period after “Over” a little bigger. Or as I wrote then:
Cruz and Rubio have until Tuesday — this Tuesday — to make a stand. And when I say “Cruz and Rubio” I really mean “Cruz or Rubio.”
Well, here we are three Super Tuesdays later.
Rubio got pounded in his must-win home state, losing Florida by nearly 20 points. Trump even came within striking distance of winning 50% of the total in a field of four candidates. Rubio exited with his usual grace — three weeks late, and with little to show for it other than questions about “Where was Marco?”
Cruz seriously underperformed last night. He needed to pick up wins in North Carolina and Missouri, but (so far) has won neither. Trump beat him in NC by less than four points, and holds a slight edge in MO — which at this late hour remains too close to call.
Next week the campaign moves west — Arizona, Idaho, Utah, and way out west to American Samoa. There isn’t much in the way of reliable polling for any of those states, although the West is generally considered less friendly to Trump. But the same was thought of Florida until last night, where the “reliable” polls showed him with a much smaller lead over Rubio, and where Rubio was expected to crush it with early voters. Neither the polls nor the early ballots panned out.
April voting is dominated by the Northeast, where Cruz’s increasingly odd brand of evangelical politicking doesn’t play well, and where Trump is a long-known commodity.
If there’s a chance to force a brokered convention — and that’s a mighty big if — if probably comes down to Cruz putting his remaining eggs in with John Kasich.
That’s right: John Kasich.
So, yeah, the nominee is almost certainly Trump.
Moving on then to the general election, it’s difficult to see how anyone with Trump’s unfavorables (67% nationally, 75% among non-GOP voters) wins the White House. Those odds get even longer if someone like Mitt Romney were to make a third-party run as an “Independent Republican” or some such thing.
So if I had to, like at gunpoint was forced to give advice or make a prediction, it’s that the GOP needs to think seriously about how to triage enough Senate and House seats to keep control of Capitol Hill — and do little more than pray really hard for the White House.
Then again, this election cycle has been unpredictable in so many ways — including whether or not the presumptive Democrat nominee ends up indicted on felony charges around the same time as her nominating convention. At this point then, what does anybody really know?
The only safe prediction is that all the predictions will end up being somehow wrong.