May 24th, 2022


Decided: Republican voters want Donald Trump as their presidential nominee

Chris Cillizza

By Chris Cillizza The Washington Post

Published April 26, 2016

Decided: Republican voters want Donald Trump as their presidential nominee

Donald Trump isn't the presumptive Republican presidential nominee yet. And, he won't get close to -- or over -- the 1,237 delegate barrier until June 7 at the earliest. But in the wake of Tuesday's I-95 primary results, there's one reality that's very hard to deny: Republican voters want Trump to be the nominee.

On Tuesday, Trump won by 30 percentage points (Connecticut), 41 (Delaware), 31 (Maryland), 35 (Pennsylvania) and 40 (Rhode Island). And that's in a three-way race! Yes, the states that voted on Tuesday were, like New York, more naturally friendly to Trump than Ted Cruz. But remember two months ago when John Kasich and all of his allies insisted that the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states were where he was going to start winning? He came nowhere close. Neither did Cruz.

In total, Trump has now won 26 of the 41 states that have voted. That's 63 percent of all the states. He has 410 more delegates than Cruz and 802 more than Kasich. Trump crested the 10 million vote mark on Tuesday, and his lead over Cruz is now more than 3.2 million votes, according to Real Clear Politics. He's won in every region of the country. He's won early in the process and late in the process. Exit polling suggests he is now winning across most of the demographic and ideological groups within the party.

That list of accomplishments by any other candidate would have not only made him or her the presumptive nominee at this point but would have been more than enough to drive everyone else out of the race. But this is Trump. And the Republican establishment can't seem to give up on the idea that somehow, some way they can keep him from winning the GOP nomination -- even if the alternative is Cruz, a candidate virtually every GOP establishment figure worthy of the name loathes.

Here's the thing: Every time voters actually vote -- or at least the large majority of times voters vote -- they keep picking Trump. And Trump appears to be picking up momentum rather than slowing down as the end of the primary season nears. His massive wins in New York on April 19 and his sweep of Tuesday's votes were even bigger than the expectations for him.

The professional political class may not -- doesn't -- understand how this keeps happening. Trump to them is clownish and embarrassing, a transparent flim-flam artist without a speck of policy depth. But Republican voters see him differently -- as a straight-talking warrior against politics and political correctness at a time when people hate both. That perception chasm goes a long way to explaining why so many people who practice politics for a living have been so slow to understand what is happening in this election.

Trump is what's happening. And while I agree with most of the political class that Trump could be an absolute disaster for his party -- both at the presidential level and downballot -- I think it's increasingly far-fetched to believe that there is a very real chance of keeping the nomination from Trump.

First of all, he may well get to 1,237 delegates on June 7 when New Jersey, California and a bunch of other states vote. (The 538 blog says Trump is 97 percent on target at this point to get to 1,237.) But, even if he doesn't get to that exact number, Trump now looks certain to be within 100 or 125 delegates of 1,237 by the end of the primary process. And poll after poll after poll suggests that there is zero appetite among Republican voters to give the nomination to someone who isn't the leading vote and delegate getter going into the convention.

Given Trump's demonstrated strengths, I think it is going to be extremely difficult for Cruz, Kasich or anyone else to take the nomination from him without major repercussions -- both on the convention floor in Cleveland and more broadly across the country in the fall campaign.

Trump is close to winning this thing fair and square. You don't have to like that reality. But you do need to accept it.

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