New York billionaire Donald Trump recently trounced rivals US Senator for Texas Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich in the Indiana Republican Primary. Indiana was a make-or-break contest for Cruz and Kasich, meaning their losses forced both to drop out of the Republican Presidential nomination race. At this point it seems prudent to ask; how likely is Donald Trump to be President of the United States of America?
Surging political maverick
Donald Trump has made controversy the focal point of his campaign. He launched his efforts to become the Republican nominee, TIME Magazine writes, by branding Mexicans as “racists” and “murderers.” Since this point, Trump’s rhetoric has only become more incendiary, with the New York billionaire advocating extreme policies such as banning all Muslims from entering the US.
Traditional political wisdom dictates that Presidential candidates should avoid offending large sections of the electorate. Clearly, Donald Trump has decided to ignore this long-held political convention in a bid to appeal to xenophobic republican-base voters. This tactic has proved effective; according to the Huffington Post, the amount of national Republican voters who back Trump has vaulted from a paltry 3.9% in late March 2015 to a staggering 51.7% at present.
The billionaire’s stratospheric poll numbers have allowed him to dominate the Republican Primaries, giving him enough delegates to come within a hair’s breadth of winning the nomination outright. After Trump won the New York Primary, he was quoted by Politifact saying that his nearest rival Cruz was “mathematically eliminated” from the race. The Texas Senator had no chance of securing enough delegates to become the Republican standard-bearer in the Presidential election.
Cruz and Kasich decided to work together to prevent Trump from reaching the threshold he needed to surpass, in order to win the first ballot at the Republican national convention. After this ballot, delegates can vote for whoever they like. In this circumstance it would have feasible for either Cruz or Kasich to sway enough delegates away from Trump in the second ballot to steal the nomination away from Trump.
Turning to Indiana
Cruz and Kasich decided to stop campaigning in states where the other candidate had better poll numbers, freeing up their voters to ensure that Trump didn’t rise to victory. Cruz had higher poll numbers in Indiana, which held its Republican Primary on 3rd May 2016, so Kasich stopped campaigning in the state in the hope that the Texas Senator could triumph. This strategy didn’t work, as Trump dominated the Indiana Republican primary.
After this humiliating defeat, the BBC reports, Cruz dropped out of the race. Kasich soon followed, making Donald Trump the sole candidate running to become the Republican nominee for the Presidential election. Barring a last-minute miracle, Donald Trump will be the GOP standard-bearer in the general Presidential election later this year.
Facing the Democrats
Obviously, this doesn’t automatically mean that Trump will become the next President. He will have to best a Democratic opponent, either former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or US Senator for Vermont Bernie Sanders, to reach the Oval Office. As CNN notes, both democrats trounce the New York billionaire in general election match-ups.
Don’t count Trump out. Commenting to CNBC, political analyst Greg Valliere argues that Trump’s chances are “not zero” in the general election, as he has “exceeded expectations and broken every rule” in his candidacy, to great success. Going further, Valliere says: “I’m surprised how many people think Hillary’s going to win and that she’s a shoo-in. She has a lot of flaws… Sanders is still not going away. What if the economy continues to barely grow?”
If the economy under-performs during Democratic leadership, it’s less likely that voters will want to back a Democrat, fearing they will continue their predecessor’s policies. Strengthening his case, Valliere said that a major terror attack, whether foreign or domestic, could also benefit the New York billionaire, as “his [Trump’s] numbers always go up when you see something like that.” The political analyst suggested that Trump has a one in three chance of taking the Presidency this November.
Not completely impossible
Donald Trump will almost certainly be the the GOP candidate in the general US Presidential election. But Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric has raised the ire of general election voters, so it is still fairly unlikely that he will make it to the Oval Office. However, Trump has spent this entire campaign defying expectations, so it’s impossible to say with any certainty that he will never become the President of the United States of America.