WASHINGTON – After Super Tuesday, we can say that Donald Trump is still very much in the lead among the Republican contenders for the presidential nomination. However, he certainly did not exceed expectations.
Solid, but not overwhelming victories
Trump won several states in different parts of the country; but only with about 35% of the votes cast. He is ahead; but he has not obliterated his opponents. Ted Cruz won big in his own state of Texas. Then he added Oklahoma and Alaska. This gives him enough reasons to stay in the race as a credible contender. (Rubio instead turned out to be a “light weight”, just as Trump described him. He won the Minnesota caucus, and that’s his only victory to date).
Still, be that as it may, if Trump keeps winning with good but not overwhelming margins, it will take him quite a while to get the majority of delegates that will secure his nomination at the Republican Convention. If his percentage of the vote shrinks a bit in future contests, he may not get a majority by the time of the Convention. (Of course, if Trump ends up ahead, even by small margins, in “winner take all states” this will change the dynamics of the race. He can jump ahead in the delegates count, even having gained only a plurality of the votes in some key states).
Here is the thing. Steady but slow progress is bad news for the self-proclaimed leader of a national movement that is supposedly revolutionizing American politics.
Indeed, part of the Trump mystique is his inevitability. A large component of his appeal is that he is the historic political tsunami that is sweeping the country, turning millions of disillusioned voters into a vast army of enthusiastic supporters.
Well, now that we are counting votes, we see that the Trump supporters are there, but their numbers are a quite bit less impressive than we thought. 35% is good. But not that good.
Will Trump be the nominee?
My point is that If Trump keeps advancing, but not at lightning speed, this will give many voters the chance to think again about what they want to do. Will they think twice before jumping on the Trump band wagon?
And keep in mind that many non-Trump Republican voters have declared in several polls that they will never vote for him –under any circumstances.
Still, even if we discount all this, and assume that Trump will pick up speed and quickly secure the Republican nomination, then what?
Strong but narrow support
Well, as things stand now, his chances of getting elected President do not look so good. Even leaving aside opinion polls that see Hillary Clinton beating him by a decent margin in November, (polls so early in the race do not mean that much), any dispassionate analysis reveals that Trump’s base of support, while solid, is too narrow to win a national election. And his chances of expanding it are not that good. His “negatives” as noted above are really strong.
Best case scenario, Trump will be able to get the nomination and the support of a vast majority of Republicans, come November. But nationally Republicans are not the majority.
Therefore this achievement will not easily translate into a majority of American voters, if he is unable to sway millions of independents. Besides, it is clear that there are many moderate Republicans who will not vote for him. In fact they may end up voting for Clinton, or not voting at all.
Clinton likely to win
As the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton will be able to count on the votes of most White union members, women, young people, Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities. And if you add to her natural constituencies many moderate Republicans and millions of independents who may vote for her, because they are seriously worried about the possibility of a Trump presidency, this easily adds to a Clinton national majority.
The Trump phenomenon
So, what do we make of the Trump phenomenon? Based on what we know so far, even in the light of Trump’s Super Tuesday victories, we can say that Trump convinced a substantial percentage of Republicans, and may be many independents and a few disgruntled Democrats, that he is the Man of the Future. The New Leader who will take over and (magically?) transform Washington.
Not a majority
But this core base of Trump supporters is not a majority of Americans –not even close. In fact, as the Super Tuesday numbers revealed, this is not even close to a clear majority of Republican primaries voters.
And I do not see how Trump will be able to expand his base, considerable as it is, so that it will become a solid national majority.
Undoubtedly many Republican primaries voters like him, a lot. But many more do not like him. And among them, there are many who absolutely loath him.
And this is just within the Republican Party.
Not a national revolution
No doubt, Trump created a political revolution. But it is a revolution affecting the Republican Party, whose final outcome, by the way, is not yet clear.
One thing however is clear. Whatever Trump provoked, it is not a national revolution. A large majority of Americans are not on board, and are unlikely to jump on board.
If Trump wins the internal battle and becomes the Republican Party nominee, Hillary Clinton will be America’s next President.