Everything is going wrong for the GOP establishment. Yesterday, ‘the alliance’ broke down within hours of being conjured into life, and today the anti-Trump-ers face disaster as a new NBC poll shows Donald Trump has reached 50 percent support from Republicans and Republican-leaners nationally for the first time since the campaign began.
This milestone is significant as the 2016 primary heads into its final few weeks of contests, as there has been intense speculation that Trump’s support has a ceiling. Though his support has hovered in the high 40s since mid-March, the front-runner had yet to secure half of Republican voters.
Overall, this week’s 6-point swing – Trump up 4 points, Cruz and Kasich down 2 points – is the biggest weekly shift in the poll so far. Combined with his significant win in New York, Trump’s rise nationally could be an early sign of consolidation within the Republican Party.
As Goldman notes, after a brief period of uncertainty following the Wisconsin primary earlier this month, the Republican nomination once again looks like it is Mr. Trump’s to lose, while Sec. Clinton appears to have a tight grip on her party’s nomination and could clinch it outright (including “superdelegates” in the total) before the last of the contests in June.
The outcome of the Republican nomination looks unlikely to become clear until the convention.
If Trump fails to win 1237 delegates in the contests through June 7, his remaining option to secure the nomination would be to win the support of unbound delegates before or even during the convention, which starts July 18. Under the hypothetical delegate scenario illustrated above where Trump wins around 1200 of the delegates but falls short of a majority, he would need to work to gain the support of another 37 or more unbound delegates, out of around 150 total. However, a number of these delegates have already announced their support for other candidates (e.g., Sen. Cruz), leaving a smaller pool for Trump to draw from. The April 26 primary results in Pennsylvania could shed some light on this question; Pennsylvania will send 54 unbound delegates to the convention—the largest amount from any single state—and some Pennsylvania delegates have suggested they might feel obliged to support their state’s winner (though others have already announced support for a candidate regardless of the results). We would expect to see additional scrutiny of these delegates’ intentions in coming days.
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