It seems like a distant memory, but it was just three weeks ago that Ted Cruz won an easy victory in the Wisconsin primary, which launched a round of chatter about “momentum” and the “turning point” in the race for the Republican nomination.
Soon after, the conventional wisdom said Trump’s entire national operation had stalled at the worst possible time. Not only was Wisconsin a major setback, but his campaign manager briefly faced a criminal charge; his campaign team had run into behind-the-scenes turmoil; he struggled through some high-profile interviews; he feuded with his own party’s national leaders; and he was badly out-hustled at state conventions where convention delegates are chosen. Trump’s shooting star, many argued, was finally burning out.
Donald Trump has had just about enough of the Republican race.“I consider myself the presumptive nominee, absolutely,” Trump said at a press conference after winning all five state primaries held on Tuesday by crushing margins.
As Benjy Sarlin’s MSNBC report added, Trump summarized the state of the GOP race by concluding, simply, “It’s over.”
And while the New York Republican has made comments like these before, the results from yesterday’s primaries suddenly made it quite easy to believe him.
Trump was expected to do well in these five contests, but he exceeded expectations, winning by margins ranging from 31 to 41 points, earning over 100 delegates along the way. While Trump struggled to break 50% of the vote in many of his previous victories, he cleared the threshold easily in all of yesterday’s primaries – and topped 60% in two of them. The night went about as well as it possibly could have for the frontrunner.
As for Cruz’s “momentum,” the Texas senator finished third in four of yesterday’s five contests – in Rhode Island and Connecticut, he barely broke double digits – which comes on the heels of Cruz’s dreadful showing in New York last week.
It’s almost as if the scuttlebutt about Wisconsin changing the trajectory of the race was completely wrong.
As for the road ahead, Cruz and John Kasich have no mathematical opportunity to catch Trump before the convention, and talk of keeping Trump below 1,000 delegates is no longer realistic. The only question is whether Cruz and Kasich can keep the frontrunner from crossing the 1,237 delegate threshold by the time Republican voting wraps up on June 7.
And the answer is … it’s going to be close. There are only 10 GOP contests left: Indiana, Nebraska, West Virginia, Oregon, the state of Washington, California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Trump appears especially well positioned in New Jersey and West Virginia, raising the importance of states like Indiana and California.
Officials on Team Trump like their odds, and after last night, I can’t say I blame them.