With Donald Trump’s sweep of five more states yesterday, his two remaining opponents in the GOP are looking more and more like also-rans. Trump has not yet sewn up the nomination, but the odds that he will are increasing. His victory in the so-called ‘Acela’ states demonstrated, perhaps more than any win up to now, that he is not a fringe candidate—that he has broad geographic appeal and can secure votes among diverse demographics. Last night, for example, he carried the Philadelphia suburbs, defying those who imagine that Trump’s followers are mainly people of low means and education.
Last night, Trump won more than 53 percent of the Republican vote. Ted Cruz, his nearest rival, polled dismally, placing third in four of the five contests, more damning proof of the Texan’s unpopularity in the moderate eastern regions. In remarks following his victory, Trump deftly portrayed Cruz’s recent procedural maneuvering (e.g. wooing convention delegates) as ethically dubious and irrelevant. While Cruz hopes to win nomination on the convention’s second ballot, Trump expects to win on the first, rendering Senator Cruz’s efforts nugatory.
And, honestly, if Trump continues to moderate his tone, it is difficult to avoid concluding he will be the Republican nominee. Last night’s remarks showed him looking confidently ahead to Indiana and beyond that to the general election, where he will offer Secretary Clinton a formidable challenge.