Many political pundits, media members, and even real Americans are beginning to spin the narrative that Donald Trump has the GOP nomination sewed up after his victory in the South Carolina primary.
And while the bombastic billionaire and reality TV actor could very well coast to the nomination, it is nowhere near a sure thing.
Number one, Trump has yet to receive the majority of votes in any state, including South Carolina, where he received just 32.5% of the vote. In other words, over two-thirds of voters in the GOP South Carolina primary voted for someone not named Donald Trump. Even just throwing two candidates’ votes together, those of Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz , who had a combined 44.8%, defeat Trump by more than 12%.
Moreover, one can easily envision that as more candidates drop out of the race, Donald Trump is going to have a more difficult time garnering support from those existing candidates. Trump’s scorched earth campaign, using Saul Alinsky-like personal character assassination tactics against any opponent who challenges him, may end up hurting him in the end.
For example, it’s extremely difficult to imagine any scenario where a Jeb Bush supporter would swing to Donald Trump. It’s also a stretch to think that many mild-mannered Ben Carson supporters would be enthusiastic about supporting Trump, who compared Ben Carson to a “child molester” and said he was a “sick puppy.”
Voters can only squeeze their nostrils so tight.
We should all be reminded that
President Newt Gingrich won the 2012 South Carolina GOP Primary with 40.4% of the vote, defeating eventual GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who finished in second place with 27.8%. A South Carolina victory does not guarantee anything going forward. Only three states have voted. It’s still early and a lot could happen.
For example, Donald Trump could be caught on video saying that he’s sexually attracted to his daughter. He could announce that he’s in favor of the worse part of Obamacare — the mandate. Or, he could get caught in a bald-faced lie about his non-support of the Iraq War. Trump could even impersonate Michael Moore and Rosie O’Donnell, calling George W. Bush a liar, then the next day say he never called anyone a liar.
Shoot (literally), Trump could even, according to him, “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody” and that he “wouldn’t lose voters.”
All of the above actually did occur, with the exception of the last, but Trump is correct in that it wouldn’t matter among the supporters that he already has.
Donald Trump has 100% name identification, and people who have bought into the cult of personality have already done so. There is no prying those people loose. Attracting more cult followers going forward may prove to be more difficult.
As much as Trump is worshipped by his sycophantic supporters, he is highly disliked by many more. Gallup recently revealed that “The Donald” matches the highest unfavorable ratings in Gallup’s history.
For perspective, Trump’s 60% unfavorability rating is even higher than roundly despised Hillary Clinton (52%).
Donald Trump, who is not an anti-establishment candidate (he has literally bankrolled the elite political establishment his entire adult life), though he has successfully marketed himself as an “outsider,” will win the nomination as long as he has more than one GOP opponent.
In a one-on-one race against either Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, Trump is in serious trouble.
A February 18, NBC/WSJ poll indicates that in a hypothetical one-on-one matchup, Trump loses to both Ted Cruz (56 percent to 40 percent) and to Marco Rubio (57 percent to 41 percent), a whopping 16-point differential in both cases.
But it is not a two-person race, and as long as it isn’t, it’s going to be very difficult to defeat Donald Trump. Either Cruz or Rubio could stop the so-called “Trump Train,” but not with them both in the race.