Donald Trump- you either like him or dislike him. Those who like him too-often harbor a dogmatic, twisted obsession with defending his every move and utterance. Those who dislike him often intensely dislike him.
Despite frequently changing his positions, Trump carries the same weight he did months ago. Those who intend to vote have already decided whether the unhinged billionaire is for them or not and Trump does not seem to possess any real ability to persuade voters to flock to him.
In short, he has relatively capped-out.
The trends have shown that as GOP contenders exit the race, Trump receives a slightly bigger piece of the pie, but those left in the race get significant bumps.
Political consultant Keith Naughton highlights the problems facing Trump:
I reviewed the numbers in the Republican primaries and caucuses for 2016 and compared them against their best equivalent numbers for 2012. There are four conclusions that can be drawn: First, he may well have momentum within the media, but he has none with the voters. Second, Donald Trump is not attracting an overwhelming number of new voters. Third, his success is built on a peculiar dynamic where he is facing opponents strong enough to stay in, but not strong enough to knock each other out. Lastly, the Republican primary numbers show why Trump consistently performs so poorly against Hillary Clinton (and Bernie Sanders) in national polls…
In his first four states, his vote share was 32.8 percent. After seven candidate departure, his percentage only increased to 35.4 percent, up just 2.6 points. Ted Cruz went from 20.8 to 29.6 percent, while Marco Rubio fell slightly from 19.8 to 19.1 percent. Kasich has gone up, from 8.3 to 9.0 percent. If you look at 2012, comparing the same first four with the later primaries, Romney went from 31.3 to 40.2 percent, far better than Trump. At the same time, while Santorum went up significantly (from 16.0 to 28.1 percent), both Gingrich and Paul collapsed. Gingrich fell from 29.2 to 22.2 percent and Paul’s vote nearly halved. The 2012 race was quickly coming down to two candidates, with Romney well ahead. For 2016, two of Trump’s three opponents are picking up vote share and his nearest competitor is closing the gap.
Of course, Naughton’s analysis was prior to Florida. So, what should we conclude from Tuesday’s results?
According to the NY Post, a recent poll conducted prior to Tuesday’s results indicates that Rubio’s departure from the presidential race will greatly benefit constitutional conservative Ted Cruz. Former Ohio Governor John Kasich will also receive a bump, but Kasich holds mathematically no chance at winning the nomination outside of a brokered convention that is a long-shot for Cruz and a near-impossibility for Kasich.
The NY Post reports,
Among 412 Rubio supporters polled, 47 percent support Cruz as a second choice.
Twenty-seven percent of respondents said they would back Ohio Gov. John Kasich if Rubio dropped out and only 13 percent of Rubio backers said they’d support front-runner Donald Trump.
Nine percent said they’d vote for someone else and 5 percent don’t know.
It makes sense. Whether one is a Trump supporter or not, think back and ask yourself when was the last time you heard of someone undecided about Trump?
All Republicans considered Trump at one point or another, but at this stage, isn’t it already set in stone whether one would support him?
…Or, in the case of diehard Trump supporters, pledge undying allegiance above all else to him?
Trump makes significant gains in press coverage, but his ability to recruit new voters has dramatically plateaued at a time when the field has narrowed to a direct stream with support funneling to Cruz.