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March 16, 2016

A Big Night for One Man

Trump knocks out Rubio, expands delegate lead.

Tuesday’s five primaries are in the books (almost), and Donald Trump walked away with three big wins and a virtual tie. The big one, of course, was winner-take-all Florida. Trump won “yuge” over the Sunshine State’s hometown boy, Marco Rubio, and the latter dropped out after his shellacking. Ted Cruz fought Trump to a draw in Missouri (as we go to press, the two are separated by just 1,800 votes). But the night was a good one for the frontrunner in just about every way. “You explain it to me, because I can’t,” Trump said to his supporters. “I don’t understand it. Nobody understands it.”

Actually, we totally understand it, and we have from the beginning.

John Kasich won his home state of Ohio (his first and only victory), giving him all the justification he wanted for staying in the race. Yet he sounded delusional declaring, “I may go to the convention before this is over with more delegates than anybody else.” Unless Trump and Cruz both drop out today, that’s not going to happen. Nonetheless, Kasich’s strategy surely must be to keep fighting for a brokered convention where he can either hope for a lifeline from the party’s establishment or play kingmaker with his delegates.

“In the meantime, however,” writes David French, “he’ll split the anti-Trump vote even further, allowing Trump to continue to win contest after contest with a plurality of voters. It’s self-serving, it’s vain, and it’s Kasich.”

Likewise, Rubio’s decision to stay in the race despite looming defeat everywhere undoubtedly cost Cruz wins in Missouri and North Carolina.

According to Fox News, Trump now leads with 661 delegates to Cruz’s 406. Kasich has 142 — fewer than the departed Rubio’s 169. Winning the nomination requires 1,237 delegates, and Trump is on pace to fall 100 short. At the same time, Cruz isn’t mathematically eliminated and he could get to Cleveland with a lead, but it would take a miracle for him to win the nomination outright.

So we’re faced with the paradox of a frontrunner and likely nominee who by all appearances is very weak in the general election, even against an all-but-convicted felon in Hillary Clinton, but who is handily beating everyone in the Republican field. What does that say about the Republican Party? Not much.

There are rumblings of a third-party run regardless of who wins the GOP nomination. That’s because the more Trump wins, the more entrenched voters who oppose him become — more than a third of voters Tuesday said they’d go third party if Trump wins. And if the nomination is “stolen” from Trump at the convention, his supporters will bolt because everything they ever thought about the party establishment will be confirmed. Not only that, but Trump himself thinks “you’d have riots” if he doesn’t win. Welcome to 2016.

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