Earlier this week, Donald Trump swept the Northeast winning the states of Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Winning those five Northeast states–which traditionally vote Democrat–further solidified Trump’s quest in locking down the GOP nomination. Currently his delegate count rests comfortably at 996. He needs 241 of the 571 delegates left or 42 percent.
It is clear, that Donald Trump’s rivals, Cruz and Kasich, have little to no chance of winning on the first ballot in Cleveland. It is possible that Donald Trump will not obtain the required 1,237 delegates, forcing a contested convention. It is unknown what the results would be if such scenario were to occur.
A member of the Republican National Committee spoke to the media stating that if Donald Trump were to achieve 1,100 delegates–little less than 200 delegates below the required 1,237– he would likely secure the nomination. But there are problems with this. First, this ignores the GOP convention rules. They require 1,237 or simple majority of the 2,472 total delegates to secure the nomination. If he hypothetically achieved only 1,100 delegates, he would only have 44 percent of the total delegates, a far cry of a simple majority. Secondly, this is giving into the demands of Donald Trump and his supporters. Throughout this process, Trump has whined, and decried the delegate system–which he surely has benefited from since he is the front-runner in total delegate count. His demeanor has been less than presidential. If Donald Trump does win the GOP nomination, he would be the worst candidate to go against Hillary Clinton that the GOP could have put up.
However, the Republican Party is not without fault. They trounced out their largess of talent. They filled the field with 17 candidates, effectively dividing up the vote, which prevented an opponent with equal number of popular votes to arise. Donald Trump was the only candidate who had the large name ID, who branded himself as the anti-Washington Establishment. It is true Ben Carson was the other anti-Washington establishment candidate, but he was not able to garner enough votes to stay in the race.
Trump’s Unfavorably Problem
Trump is viewed unfavorably among key demographics which could hurt him in the general election:
- In Florida (an important swing state), where Cuban-Americans are more conservative than other Latinos, a whopping 73 percent of Hispanic voters say they view Trump unfavorably. Another 11 percent view him “somewhat unfavorably.” Against Hillary Clinton, Trump would lose Florida’s Hispanic vote in nothing short of an embarrassing smack-down — 69 percent to 18, according to the poll conducted by the political research group Latino Decisions and commissioned by the pro-immigration reform group America’s Voice.
- On February 11th, two days after the New Hampshire primary, Clinton led Trump on the Morning Consult poll by just one percentage point (42% vs. 41%). However, just two months later, on April 11th, Clinton led Trump with female voters by an 18-point margin.
- Donald Trump’s image among U.S. women tilts strongly negative, with 70% of women holding an unfavorable opinion and 23% a favorable opinion of the Republican front-runner in March. Trump’s unfavorable rating among women has been high since Gallup began tracking it last July, but after rising slightly last fall, it has increased even further since January.
- Donald Trump is broadly unpopular with national adults; more so than any other major candidate of either party. Trump was seen favorably by 30% of the country, while twice as many U.S. adults saw the GOP front-runner unfavorably (63%).
- NBC News/SurveyMonkey tracking poll found that Trump was viewed unfavorably by 86% of black voters and 75% of Latinos. Overall about eight in 10 nonwhite voters in that survey had an unfavorable view of Trump, with about seven in 10 saying their view was “very unfavorable.”
- According to a Harvard University’s Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, sixty-one percent of 18-to-29 year-olds prefer that a Democrat be elected president in the fall, while 33 percent of those surveyed back a Republican. That gap of 28 percentage points has nearly doubled since a similar poll conducted last year, when the difference was just 15 percentage points with Democrats again in the majority. In a hypothetical head-to-head contest among likely voters, Democrat Hillary Clinton trounces Republican Donald Trump, 61 percent to 25 percent — a 36-point margin. Of those likely voters surveyed, 14 percent said they were undecided. The poll found that millennials largely reject Trump, the leading Republican candidate. He has the highest negative ratings of any of the candidates included in the survey: 74 percent have an unfavorable view of Trump compared with 17 percent who have a favorable view of the billionaire businessman.
Trump is Not Ronald Reagan
Many of his supporters claim Trump’s unfavorably is similar to what Reagan had in 1980. Ronald Reagan is the Frank Sinatra of Republican politics and Donald Trump is not Reagan. All Republican politicians try to be like Reagan, and all conservative voters are nostalgic for those years. According to FiveThirtyEight, Trump’s favorable rating among the general electorate is, on average, 30 percent. His unfavorable rating is a sky-high 63 percent. In other words, more people dislike Trump than like him. On the other hand, the American public was more evenly split on Reagan at a comparable point in the 1980 campaign.
According to an April 1980 Cambridge Reports survey, 39 percent of Americans had a favorable view of Reagan, and 44 percent had an unfavorable view. Reagan’s net favorability rating was 28 percentage points higher than Trump’s is. It is possible Trump could see his popularity rise after the primary campaign ends, and the Republican base unities under his candidacy. But Reagan was also in the heat of a primary fight until May 1980, against George H.W. Bush. It seems likely that Trump, if he wins the nomination, will be much less popular than Reagan was when he started the general election campaign.
In the end, Donald Trump does not give the GOP a strong candidate that they need to defeat Hillary Clinton in the November general election. Instead, they are left with a candidate who is divisive, bombastic, and immensely flawed. It is unclear where the GOP goes from here and how they will recover if Trump loses to Clinton. Having Donald Trump as their nominee, not only increases the likelihood that Clinton will win the general election, but could put the party behind for the next 4 to 8 years, and lose their influence for a whole generation. Also, a Clinton presidency could see the Supreme Court shift left, cementing the lefts’ progressive agenda for decades. Moreover, throwing all their eggs into one basket in the 2016 GOP primary has depleted the bench of their talent. Historians will look back at the 2016 primary election for the GOP as the most divisive ever. They will see this as a lost opportunity for Republicans to defeat an incredibly vulnerable opponent in Hillary Clinton, and Trump supporters will bear this burden.