Watching his so-called press conference on Saturday night, you would have thought that GOP Presidential frontrunner and failed vodka salesman Donald Trump had a very good day. And, for any other candidate, it may have been. On a day that saw four states hold Republican primaries or caucuses, Trump one two of them — Louisiana and Kentucky. Yet, the good news ends right there.
The fact is, Saturday’s results showed that Trump has finally been dinged, and we are pretty much on the road to a contested convention in Cleveland this summer. Following up the one-two combination of Mitt Romney’s anti-Trump speech and The Donald’s debate performance where he talked about his big dick, it appeared that Republican voters finally realized just how much damage the celebrity billionaire was doing (and has already done) to their party, and turned out Saturday to try to stem the tide.
Sure, it is probably too late now, and the party is likely going to implode this year over Trump’s call to bring the GOP’s coded racism out of the shadows, but the results on Saturday show a real turn of events since Thursday that the polls were unable to predict. In all four states, Trump greatly underperformed poll averages and he very nearly came out of the day with no wins under his belt. Meanwhile, Texas Senator and Joe McCarthy cos player Ted Cruz was the benefactor of the anti-Trump movement, as he won Kansas and Maine, and nearly pulled out Kentucky and Louisiana.
Let’s just take a look at the numbers. Real Clear Politics had Trump up by 15.6 points in their average of recent polls in Louisiana. While the former reality TV star did pull out the state, he only did so by 3.6%. And, he would have lost if the state didn’t have early voting in the primary, as he held a big lead in those ballots by Cruz damn near closed the gap on Saturday. In Kentucky, the most recent poll had Trump up by 13 points. He won the state by 4.3%, and Cruz more than doubled his support from that late February poll, 15% to 31.6%.
Beyond that, the delegate allocation was pretty much even between Cruz and Trump, with the Tea Party lawmaker receiving 33 delegates to Trump’s 35. So, even though Donald was officially victorious in Kentucky and Louisiana, it was damn near a tie when it was all said and done.
Looking at the Kansas and Maine caucuses, you see an even greater shift. Kansas polls had shown Trump with a comfortable lead heading into Saturday. However, when the caucuses were tallied, Cruz beat Trump by a whopping 25 points. That is almost unfathomable, especially considering the real estate mogul was up by double-digits about a week before. There wasn’t really any polling in Maine to compare to Saturday’s results, but Teddy Boy won that one by a comfortable 13-point margin. In those two states, Cruz doubled up Trump’s delegate count, 36 to 18.
While Romney was widely mocked by pundits and commentators on the right and left for his #NeverTrump speech, it appears that GOP voters listened to what he was saying. Towards the end of that address, and in media appearances afterwards, he laid out a plan for voters to deny Trump a majority of the delegate count before the convention. While not endorsing one candidate, Romney stated that voters should vote for Cruz if they think he has the best shot in a state, Marco Rubio in Florida and others where he is competing, and John Kasich in Ohio and Michigan.
And that is what looks to be happening. Rubio and Kasich were down big in Saturday’s results, grabbing only a handful of delegates. However, a recent ARG poll, conducted after Thursday’s debate, shows Kasich up by two points in Michigan. (Other surveys done mostly before Thursday still show Trump up big.) While Rubio is still down in his home state, it will be interesting to see if we see the same shift towards him that we saw for Cruz on Saturday.
While guys like Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough will highlight that the anti-Trump movement isn’t real or it is overblown, mostly because of their fondness for Trump or their desire for this race to move along their preconceived narratives, the fact is that we are headed to the GOP convention with no clear nominee. And, when that happens, we’ll see a brawl the likes we haven’t seen since the ’68 Democratic Convention. Then, finally, we will see the Republican Party collapse upon itself, and splinter into at least two disparate political parties.