Early on I think a lot of us tried to predict “the end” for Donald Trump. A campaign that started out as a joke to many, quickly became a “wait and see” game of “what will Trump say to finally derail his seemingly unstoppable campaign.” After all, possibly the most outlandish presidential candidate in American history surely couldn’t continue to remain the overwhelming frontrunner after the litany of absurd, false and blatantly offensive things he’s said, right?
Well, we were all wrong.
Not only did Trump continue to hold his place as the overwhelming GOP frontrunner for president, but he’s dominated much of the GOP primary thus far. His only real challenger this entire time has been Sen. Ted Cruz. And by “challenger” I mean he’s a candidate who trails him by over 250 delegates and has practically no chance at winning the nomination outright. If Cruz is going to “beat” Trump, it’s most likely going to have to happen at the convention in July.
So, with all that said, why do I think Trump’s campaign is in a lot of trouble? Well, because he’s sliding at a very bad time to be a candidate losing a lot of momentum.
While at this point I don’t take national polls too seriously (it’s a state-by-state race at this point), three of the last four only have him up single-digits over Cruz. And in the one where he leads by double-digits… he only ahead by ten points.
Plus if you’ve been paying attention the last few weeks, there seems to be a growing sense that he’s starting to push things a bit too far and his shtick has begun to wear thin on those who aren’t “die-hard” Trump supporters. Not only that, but over the last month or so, the media has finally been calling out his antics and seemingly endless stream of lies.
Now am I saying that Trump is in danger of losing the nomination outright? No, I’m not.
While I think he’s going to lose Wisconsin, and probably a few other states, he’s also going to do much better in the northeast than Cruz will. Unless something shocking happens, it’s very likely that the GOP nomination is going all the way to the convention for the first time in 40 years.
But that’s where the problems arise for Trump: At that point, what kind of momentum will his campaign have left heading into July?
I know that I said national polls don’t really matter right now in a state-by-state race – but they can matter come convention time. If Trump’s struggling to hold on to his momentum, or has even fallen behind Cruz in national polls, that could be a very valid justification for the GOP to “steal” the nomination away from him. After all, if Cruz manages to close the delegate gap significantly between now and July, it’s then going to be plausible for the party to say that, while Trump had the support early on, Cruz has been the candidate who’s been getting more support from Republican voters over the last couple of months.
Not that any of these are ideal scenarios for the Republican party. If Trump leads in delegates, but “loses” the nomination at the convention, all hell is going to break loose.
The issue for Trump is, I don’t see how he regains his momentum. For months his poll numbers have been more or less the same, while Cruz’s numbers have steadily grown. Plus his entire persona is built on “winning.” The attitude and theme of his campaign isn’t built to try to “regain” something. If anything, if he becomes desperate to forcibly try to regain his momentum, he’ll likely only end up hurting his campaign even more.
So, what does this all mean?
While I hesitate to say it emphatically – I think we’re seeing the gradual downfall of Trump. He’s seemingly hit his ceiling as far as how much support he can get, the media is finally starting to dig into him, and forces on the Republican side are coming together to do whatever they can to stop him from becoming the nominee.
Though no matter what happens, I don’t see how this ultimately doesn’t turnout to be an absolute and total disaster for the GOP. I see it going one of three ways:
- Either Donald Trump is going to become the nominee at possibly the lowest point momentum wise for his entire campaign.
- Ted Cruz is going to be chosen at the convention, angering Trump and his supporters which will split the party.
- Someone else other than Trump or Cruz will be nominated at the convention, really fracturing the party.
But no matter how you want to slice it, I think it’s safe to say that, finally, things are starting to turn grim for the Trump campaign.
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