Many leading Republican officials, strategists and donors now say they fear that Mr. Trump's nomination would lead to an electoral wipeout, a sweeping defeat that could undo some of the gains Republicans have made in recent congressional, state and local elections. But in a party that lacks a true leader or anything in the way of consensus -- and with the combative Mr. Trump certain to scorch anyone who takes him on -- a fierce dispute has arisen about what can be done to stop his candidacy and whether anyone should even try. Some of the highest-ranking Republicans in Congress and some of the party's wealthiest and most generous donors have balked at trying to take down Mr. Trump because they fear a public feud with the insult-spewing media figure. Others warn that doing so might backfire at a time of soaring anger toward political insiders. That has led to a standoff of sorts: Almost everyone in the party's upper echelons agrees something must be done, and almost no one is willing to do it.
[S]ome Republicans repelled by Mr. Trump feel little urgency to attack him because, they say, he is preventing what they see as an even less desirable standard-bearer -- Senator Ted Cruz of Texas -- from consolidating the votes of hard-line conservatives. "He's keeping Cruz where he is," Scott Reed, a veteran Republican strategist, said of Mr. Trump.