According to the Republican establishment and their friends in the media, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign had stalled or at the very least it had plateaued prior to Tuesdays elections. Some even suggested that it was on the verge of imploding.
Selling the public on the idea that voters have grown tired of Trump’s shtick has always been easy, and even if you are growing tired of the billionaire’s antics, one can’t dispute his ability to win states.
On Tuesday night, Trump claimed victories in Mississippi and Michigan, the two biggest delegate prizes of the night. He also won Hawaii. The wins increase the number of states that he has carried to 15. Texas Senator Ted Cruz has won six states, but his campaign has yet to find a way to beat Trump in a primary outside of his home turf.
Cruz rightfully points out that he is the only candidate in the race who has actually beaten Trump in a nomination fight, but he hasn’t proved that he can consistently beat Trump in conventional primary contests. It’s surprising that Trump has been able to win states in the south that Rick Santorum won in 2012. Trump has won Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. Those are all states that a conservative like Cruz should have won.
Trump’s ability to win in Mississippi with nearly 50 percent of the vote, a state won by Santorum but split evenly between Santorum, Romney, and Gingrich in 2012, undermines Cruz’s claim that not only is he the best candidate to challenge Trump, but that he also has a pathway to wining the GOP nomination outright. Trump trounced the field in Michigan. With 90 percent of the vote in, he was leading Cruz by over 140,000 votes. His lead in Mississippi, which had a much smaller turn out, was almost 40,000 votes.
It appears that Cruz will get a win in Idaho, another low-turnout contest. Regardless of the size of the contest, wins are important, but if Cruz actually wants to challenge Trump for the nomination, he needs to do better than just notch an Idaho victory. Tuesday’s results also make it clear that the Cruz campaign’s decision to compete in Florida, a winner-take-all state, is a fool’s errand that actually could end up helping Trump secure the nomination.