Why yes, Donald Trump is still very beatable

The Republican primary race is far from over. That’s not the takeaway you might have expected this morning, after Donald Trump won eight of 12 seven of 11 states (Colorado’s caucus results weren’t binding) on Super Tuesday and tried his hand at a presidential-style press conference (which, in a Trump presidency, would apparently include an unblinking flunky/hostage standing behind him the entire time).

(AP Photo / Andrew Harnik)

Dear Gov. Christie: Blink once for a SWAT team, twice for a cheeseburger. (AP Photo / Andrew Harnik)

But as I suggested would happen, the fact is that Trump woke up today with a lesser chance, mathematically, of winning the GOP nomination outright before this summer’s convention in Cleveland. He entered the day with more than 60 percent of the delegates awarded. Here is how things stand as of right now:

* Estimate excludes six delegates still to be awarded. Source: The Green Papers

* Estimate excludes six delegates still to be awarded. Source: The Green Papers

So Trump is trending downward in terms of delegates and, as of now, isn’t on pace to clinch the nomination. In fact, he’s running significantly behind Mitt Romney’s pace from 2012:

Of course, much will change starting March 15, when states can award all of their delegates to the winner. But with Trump’s support still hovering in the 30s — on Tuesday he polled below 35 percent more times (seven) than he did above 40 percent (two) — it is clear he could still be beaten in a one-on-one match-up, and perhaps even in a three-man race. The question is what strategy is available to the other candidates to stop him. Let’s go one by one:

Ted Cruz

How he did Tuesday: The senator had a big night, claiming victories in Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska. That brings him to four states won overall — an important number because, under current RNC rules, a candidate must have won the most votes in at least eight states to be officially placed in nomination during the first round. So he’s halfway there. Still more important, Cruz fought Trump nearly to a draw in terms of delegates, mostly thanks to his huge haul in Texas (an estimated 100 delegates). That said, when Cruz entered the race, he was counting on winning states like Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee, not finishing second in them.

Where he stands now: Cruz is in a clear second place, with more wins than any other non-Trumps and the second-most delegates.

His outlook: Hard to tell. There are a handful of Southern states still to come, but they are mostly small. And as I mentioned, it’s not as if Cruz has been cleaning up in the Deep South anyway. Cruz’s best chance is for Marco Rubio to drop out ASAP and hope he gets the lion’s share of the Floridian’s support. But he would also benefit from a more general coalescing around him by, yes, the GOP establishment — and his pitchforks-and-torches approach to the Senate and Washington more generally since he arrived there three years ago may keep him from getting that.

Marco Rubio

How he did Tuesday: It was a quintessentially Rubio night as far as how the primary’s been going. He did well enough to justify staying in the race, winning his first state (Minnesota), running a very close second in another (Virginia) and increasing his share of the delegates. His results also look better this morning than if you went to bed at, say, 10 p.m. — i.e., before Minnesota’s results were in, and before he’d pulled ahead of Cruz in Georgia. But he didn’t exactly prove “Marcomentum” can push him to victory. He once again won late-deciders, according to exit polls, and one wonders how the race would look if not for early voting (I’ll try to write a separate post about that soon).

Where he stands now: He’s a clear third place, in a race that needs to get down to no more than three candidates, and possibly only two, very soon if Trump is to be stopped. That’s not a great place to be.

His outlook: That depends on whether you think he can ever capitalize on these late surges and start pulling ahead of all the other candidates once the contests become winner-take-all. He was never going to be able to win the nomination without winning Florida; now it’s hard to see how even that would be enough. Rubio is most clearly playing for a contested convention right now. But then, that’s the second most likely scenario at this point, behind Trump winning the nomination outright.

John Kasich

How he did Tuesday: Meh. He nearly won Vermont and finished a distant second in Massachusetts. So his claim to fame now is beating the other non-Trumps, but not Trump, in a trio of New England states that will go blue this fall (with the possible exception of New Hampshire). Call him the “Brave, Brave Sir Robin” of this race. Based on those results alone, he should have dropped out last night — at the very latest.

Where he stands now: He’s the spoiler in the race. Rubio was clearly upset with Kasich last night, correctly noting he’d have almost certainly won Virginia if not for the Ohio governor (Kasich pulled 9.4 percent there; Rubio lost the state to Trump by 2.8 points). The irony is that Kasich could play a key role in getting that contested convention Rubio wants, by denying Trump an outright win.

His outlook: Kasich has the most to be optimistic about among the non-Trumps, with his winner-take-all, home state of Ohio and nearby Illinois coming up March 15. Before then comes Michigan on March 8. Kasich has based his entire campaign on winning in the states Republicans haven’t been winning nationally, in the Midwest and Northeast. But let’s be honest: He’s been running in large part for vice president, as Ohio is critical to GOP chances in November. And that goal is still very much attainable.

Ben Carson

How he did Tuesday: Terrible.

Where he stands now: Last place.

His outlook: There is only one argument for Carson’s staying in, and it belongs to anti-Trump partisans such as myself. Carson is winning some percentage of voters who might otherwise go for the other “outsider” (who’s not really an outsider) in the race, Trump. In proportional-delegate states, that has probably blunted Trump’s delegate count just a bit. Once we get to winner-take-all states, however, it could be the difference between Trump winning or narrowly losing to either Cruz, Rubio or Kasich, depending on the state. Carson’s public motivation seems to be more predicated on denying votes to Cruz. But there’s a chance he’s doing Cruz (and Rubio and Kasich) a favor by staying in. Which only makes his candidacy more quixotic.

 

Reader Comments 0

189 comments
sleithe
sleithe

So how are Republicans going to defeat that crude, obnoxious, fascist man (whose real family name is Drumpf)? He is completely unqualified to be POTUS and worse than that even, he is dangerous.

Watch the movie "Idiocracy" and he could be the leader of *that* world. But we live in the real world, and Drumpf is not qualified.

Robert1959
Robert1959

Kyle, At a minimum, Trump has more charm than some might imagine, and the beginnings of a cunning strategy for navigating the Republican primary. That strategy offers clues (hatred, fear and bigotry) as to how Donald Trump might win the 61 million or so votes needed to take the White House. As mentioned before, his positions are far from the mainstream. But he can work a room. He can be funny. He is immensely self-confident. At this stage in the game, that is more than enough to justify a close eye on Mr. Trump.  I hope and pray we do not have 61 million racist/bigots in the USA who will  vote for Trump. 

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@Penses

Doubtful. She's got balls of steel and had her sweat glands removed after her 2008 loss. 

LDH2O
LDH2O

It AMAZES me how Republican leaders say that Trump does not represent the Republican party (e.g. Jeb Bush) but the voters keep voting for him. So what are those leaders saying? That THEY define the party and the voters do not??


Secondly, IF what Kyle and many other conservative pundits say about Trump are correct (huckster, not a real conservative, etc. etc.) then what does that say about Republican voters. Who is wrong here? Are the pundits wrong? Are they such a gifted elite that they know better than the American voters?? Personally, I don't like Trump but if I was a leader, I'd listen to those I lead.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

 On another topic, can anyone here explain logically how blacks being underrepresented at the AA is bad but them being over represented in the NBA is okay?


If you cant understand how one is a judgement call, ala figure skating, and another is whoever can empirically play better. Then I feel very very sorry for you.


AA  are not over represented in the NBA. They have earned those spots with superior play.


Many times throughout our history minorities have dominated a particular sport. You can see this in baseball very clearly.


pre1920's - Most of the best players were Irish. 

1920's - Germans like Gehrig dominate the game

1940's - DiMaggio etc.


After that African Americans and then Hispanics who are I guess " over represented " in the game today.


The racism just drips from your comment and exposes you for the bigot you are sir. I've lived in the South most of my life. I know the kind of men that make comments like that. It doesn't get much lower than that let me tell you.

Penses
Penses

@Hedley_Lammar

Your racist heritage is showing through. I guess it never occurred to you that the argument you and other unthinking "progressives" make about diversity in the ACADEMY AWARDS (NOT African-Americans) is that it should mirror the ethnic makeup of our society at large, regardless of talent. I also guess you think that ice skaters wake up out of bed one day and are able to compete in the Olympics and that the ONLY people who can be racist are whites. If you don't know that many blacks are racist, you are an ignoramus.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

@Pense,, regardless of talent. That is wrong . No opportunity is given to show talent most sports the opportunity is given. The AA and NBA analogy is asinine. It's humorous that you used that example several times like its a good question.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

I feel Trump went through the rough party of his campaign(the south) I don't see Cruz beating Trump in the Midwest.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

Kyle, I have lost respect for your writing. You continue to write what you HOPE will occur instead of what the landscape reveals. Your bias is all too obvious.

Penses
Penses

@RoyalDawg

Not sure how you conclude his assessment is inaccurate, even if he has expressed his dislike for Trump in comments. Does he not concede Trump may get the nomination?

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

@RoyalDawg  Yep he's painted himself into a corner with the "anti-Trump partisan" thing and appears to be having a hard time acknowledging the mistake.

patriotdog
patriotdog

I have to hope you are right, but I'm afraid you are not. Trump will be the nominee, Hillary will be POTUS after having the FBI investigation simply go away.

Penses
Penses

On another topic, can anyone here explain logically how blacks being underrepresented at the AA is bad but them being overrepresented in the NBA is okay? I seem to have misplaced my Pretzel Logic for Dummies book. ;-)

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Penses How many Hispanics were nominated?  There are more Hispanics in America than Blacks, just saying.

Penses
Penses

@FIGMO2 @Penses

Funny, I don't think Jacob Tucker (the 2011 5'10" NCAA slam dunk contest winner) or Grayson Allen (the 2014 McDonalds All American slam dunk contest winner) got the memo. ;-)

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

On the front page your heading read:

"Why yes, Donald Trump is still very..."

and I thought DANGIT! He's still alive?

I'm ashamed of myself for thinking in those terms.

I hate to think of Kasich as a spoiler. He can take comfort in knowing he stayed above the fray. He inspired.

Good guys always finish last. 

Penses
Penses

@FIGMO2

If Trump does select a governor like Kasich as a running mate, Christie as his AG and surrounds himself with a bright, wise team, things might not be so bad.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Penses @FIGMO2 There was one of those un-sourced rumors out there yesterday that Trump was negotiating with Gingrich for an endorsement and would ask Newt to be his chief of staff at WH.  That would be a "governor" on him to some extent.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@RafeHollister @Penses @FIGMO2

Trump with Newt as his choreographer?

That WOULD be interesting.

Newt has the temperament for the job unlike Obama's ballerina (Rahmbo).

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Penses @FIGMO2

Having watched old interviews with Trump, I can't help but wonder if there's more than has met the eye.

Very poised but still direct.

With his "show-man-ship" out of the way, perhaps there's hope.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Romney is to give a speech tomorrow, news conference, or something along that line.

We can expect he will be attacking Trump and trying to shore up Rubio.

My respect for Romney is fading fast and if the predictions come true the respect will be gone after his remarks.

The establishment in their attempts to take down Trump are killing what remains of the party and giving ammo to the Democrats.

They are fools of the highest order.  

nam51
nam51


@JohnnyReb  Romney couldn't beat the most vulnerable incumbent president in the past century. What standing does he have now to tell other Republicans what to do?


Penses
Penses

@JohnnyReb

I agree that infighting is destructive. Do you agree that Trump has been crass and childish in his own attacks on others? I mean really, Megan Kelley bleeding from all over? Cruz a "little weak baby" (what baby is NOT little and weak)?

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

Kyle your "anti-Trump partisan" sentiment might be viable for a few more weeks but in the meantime be working on an exit strategy. It seems like the more you media pundits and the GOP establishment types beat on the guy the more votes he picks up.

Caius
Caius

Any prediction on the outcome of New York's suit against Trump University et al and Trump individually for fraud that the New York Appeals Court ruled Monday could continue to trial.

Add in the two class action civil cases in federal court in California that are before a judge. "Trump" and "fraud" will be in the same sentence in the news for many months.


How will these case will be viewed in the primaries ahead and the general election?  Trump made the statement a few days ago that he could kill someone and people would still vote for him. Rubio has raised the issue within the past week.  And being in court generally stays in the news.


JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Caius Trump's remark that he could shot someone and still win was a humorous remark and anyone who thinks differently needs to get a life.

Trump has also stated he could settle the civil lawsuits about Trump University but if he goes to court he will win.

As to the hubbub affecting voting, it pales to Hillary's potential legal problems.

Wealthy people and corporations get sued often.  Trump is both rolled into one.  It's much to do over nothing although the Republican Establishment and Democrats want people to think it is.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Kyle_Wingfield @Caius Kyle, I do not understand your support of Rubio.

Did you read the piece by Laura Ingraham?

She nailed it.

Rubio's stance on immigration alone is enough that the base won't vote for him.

Now he looks like a fool by abandoning pushing his policies in favor of disparaging Trump like a fourth grader on recess.

He thinks its working.  It isn't and won't.

Penses
Penses

@JohnnyReb @Kyle_Wingfield @Caius

I think Ingraham is in error...I think Rubio did try to get something passed in the Senate as best he could, with the understanding the House would likely alter it. He may have been overly accommodating to illegals at first, but I think his views have changed for the better.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Caius One of my points above about early voting is that these things are just getting out. In the states that haven't started early voting yet, these issues will be increasingly known to the entire electorate, not just those who make up their minds at the end.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@JohnnyReb Was this the one about the "globalist order"? Or was that one of her other ones?

Look, I actually line up more with Cruz's pre-election stance on immigration (i.e., before he started promising "mass deportations") than with Rubio's. But I find Rubio more believable on the subject because, unlike Cruz, he acknowledges his position in 2013 and how he has changed. Cruz doesn't; he just wants you to believe two mutually exclusive stances are somehow the same.

As for Rubio's attacks on Trump: What he was doing before wasn't working; why not fight fire with fire? And I'm not sure why you'd say it isn't working, when the exit polls show late deciders broke hard in his favor and away from Trump's. Trump benefited from the early vote, before those attacks began. I would expect a carpet bombing (to borrow Cruz's phrase) of the airwaves in Florida over the next two weeks with negative ads about the fraud at Trump U, Trump's offshoring of jobs and hiring of illegal workers here, his business failures, etc.

Basically, the message is this: Trump isn't who he's making himself out to be. He's a phony, a crony capitalist and a peddler of snake oil. 

Penses
Penses

@Kyle_Wingfield @JohnnyReb

Rubio seems to be pretty good at schoolyard repartee, quick on his feet. Not what you practice on the Harvard debating team, but perfect for Trump.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Penses @Kyle_Wingfield @JohnnyReb

His mocking WAS funny.

I would have suggested he open every rally with the Donald schtick, then declare it out of the way, let's move onto substance and policy.

Watching The Donald, he was certainly caught off guard if only for a brief moment.


xxxzzz
xxxzzz

@FIGMO2 @Penses @Kyle_Wingfield @JohnnyReb No it was not funny.  It was juvenile.  He did it with a smart aleck smirk.  If he had done it in a funny way, maybe it wouldn't make Marco look so bad.  I didn't understand why it took so long to talk about the spray on tan, but he didn't do it the right way. You have to be subtle, not snarky.  Like, "When he made fun of Rand Paul's hair, Rand didn't make remarks about Trump's spray on tan.  Instead you have the stupid stuff about small hands.

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

@FIGMO2 @Penses @Kyle_Wingfield @JohnnyReb Rubio just reinforced the idea that he was the boy in the bubble and lacking the maturity and judgement to be president.  I know my spouse saw the debate and said, "I'm not voting for him."

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

@FIGMO2 @Penses @Kyle_Wingfield @JohnnyReb The point about the spray on tan isn't that it was a bad job.  Its that nobody who votes for Trump would do such a thing.  You want to subtly imply that he can't be "for you" because he is so vain and so alien.

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

@Penses @xxxzzz @FIGMO2 @Kyle_Wingfield @JohnnyReb Rubio was just channeling his inner Trump and making himself look ridiculous.  I'm offended that people think this type of behavior is what is acceptable for a president.  The felon running off with 4 letter words in prime time, Donald insulting everybody often with insults that just make Donald look stupid and Rubio acting like a 12 year old.