“The anti-Trump forces only recently awoke to the reality”

A piece in the Washington Post reports that the GOP establshment has two weeks to destroy Trump, “The window for stopping Donald Trump closed almost completely Tuesday night, leaving the demoralized anti-Trump forces with two weeks and no agreed-upon strategy for denying the New York billionaire the Republican presidential nomination. rump pulled out victories in seven of the 11 contests that made up the biggest single primary-caucus night of the nominating season. His remaining rivals — Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — and their allies were left to cling to the flimsiest of hopes that a reversal of his fortunes still lies on the near horizon”

The article goes on to note that “For Rubio, the hope of many in the establishment, Super Tuesday turned into a super disappointment. He made a run at Trump in Virginia but fell short. Late Tuesday, he was declared the winner in the Minnesota caucuses. Still, that left his win-loss record this year at 1-14. Meanwhile, he was running third in at least half the states, and in some of those states his percentage of the vote was low enough that he was in danger of winning few or no delegates. Rubio has been described by many as the future of his party. His performance to date instead has reinforced his image as a politician who has not lived up to that potential. Were it not for the Washington suburbs in Northern Virginia, where a well-educated and government-connected electorate gave him support strong enough to place second, his bad day would have been even more dispiriting. Despite five days of relentless attacks on Trump, which started at last week’s GOP debate in Houston and carried through a raucous weekend of campaigning, Rubio was not able to deliver significant results. He scored well among late-deciding voters; in Virginia they favoured him over Trump by about 20 points. But there were not enough of them to overcome the hold Trump has on anti-establishment Republicans who remain in control of the nominating battle”.

The report goes on to mention “Months ago, Cruz envisioned that Super Tuesday, with its Southern flavor, would be the day he took command of the GOP nominating contest. Instead, it was the day he managed to preserve his candidacy, although he remains at a distinct disadvantage against Trump, particularly with Rubio and Kasich still in the race. Which was why he said Tuesday night that the only way to stop Trump is for the anti-Trump forces to get behind a Cruz candidacy. Cruz can now claim, with more credibility, the mantle of the true conservative in a conservative party against a front-runner with no clear ideology and views at odds with GOP orthodoxy. But whether he is capable of taking down Trump in Northern states remains in question”.

Crucially the piece notes “For the GOP establishment, Super Tuesday had nightmarish qualities. Not only did Trump tighten his grip on the nomination, but the only candidate who has been able to beat him more than once so far is Cruz, the nemesis of Republican congressional leaders and what the Texas senator likes to call the “Washington cartel.” In a choice between Trump and Cruz, many who could be counted as part of that establishment would be hard-pressed to declare a preference. What is remarkable is that the anti-Trump forces only recently awoke to the reality that Trump was on track to take the nomination. Instead, Trump has awakened a voting bloc that has soured on the party leadership. As he has continued to win, his support has continued to grow. In Georgia, Alabama and Massachusetts, he was winning with more than 40 percent of the vote. For months, the party elite dismissed Trump, seeing him as a candidate who would burn himself out before the end of 2015. When he proved capable of surviving mistakes and misstatements that hurt most normal candidates, they then assumed that, when the primaries began, voters would reject him in favour of one of any number of establishment candidates who were then in the race”.

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