GOP to Trump: Stop alienating Latinos

donald_trump-GOP to Trump: Stop alienating Latinos

Washington (CNN) Top Republican officials and donors are increasingly worried about the threat Donald Trump’s attack on a judge’s Mexican heritage could pose to their party’s chances in November — and about the GOP’s ability to win Latino votes for many elections to come.

Trump is under fire for repeatedly accusing U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing a lawsuit involving Trump University, of bias because of his Mexican heritage. Those concerns intensified Sunday after Trump said he would have the same concerns about the impartiality of a Muslim judge.
House and Senate GOP leaders have condemned Trump’s remarks about Curiel, while donors have openly worried that losing Latino voters could doom them in key down-ballot races. Other important party figures, including former Speaker Newt Gingrich, are urging Trump to change his combative, confrontational style before it’s too late.
Veteran Republican strategist Rick Wilson warned this weekend that GOP leaders who have endorsed Trump “own his politics.”
“You own his politics,” Wilson wrote in a column for Heatstreet, adding later, “You own the racial animus that started out as a bug, became a feature and is now the defining characteristic of his campaign. You own every crazy, vile chunk of word vomit that spews from his mouth.”
The GOP’s deepest fear: A Barry Goldwater effect that could last far longer than Trump’s political aspirations.
Goldwater, the Arizona senator who was the 1964 GOP nominee and a leader of the conservative movement, alienated a generation of African-American voters by opposing the Civil Rights Act — opening the door for Democrats to lock in their support for decades. Republicans fret that Trump could similarly leave a stain with Latino voters.

GOP: ‘Concerned’

“I am concerned about that,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Sunday.
“America is changing. When Ronald Reagan was elected, 84% of the electorate was white,”McConnell said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “This November, 70% will be. It’s a big mistake for our party to write off Latino Americans. And they’re an important part of the country and soon to be the largest minority group in the country.”
“I hope he’ll change his direction on that,” said McConnell, who first made the Goldwater comparison last week in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
That hasn’t happened yet. In interviews Sunday, Trump wouldn’t back away from his assertion that Curiel’s parents’ birth in Mexico has left the judge angry over Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and biased in the legal case over Trump University. Trump even went further, saying on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he’d have similar concerns over a Muslim judge, since he has proposed banning all Muslims from entering the United States.
Trump’s remarks led to condemnations from the same leading Republicans that in recent weeks have embraced him — and accepted that the party’s fate in November is inextricably linked to his.
“I don’t agree with what he had to say,” McConnell said.
“This is a man who was born in Indiana,” McConnell said of Curiel. “All of us came here from somewhere else. Almost all Americans are either near-term immigrants like my wife, who came here at age 8 not speaking a word of English, or the rest of us whose ancestors were risk-takers who came here and made this country great. That’s an important part of what makes America work.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, just a day after announcing his endorsement of Trump, bashed him on a Wisconsin radio station.
“Look, the comment about the judge, just was out of left field for my mind,” Ryan said Friday on WISN in Milwaukee. “It’s reasoning I don’t relate to, I completely disagree with the thinking behind that.”
The criticism from McConnell and Ryan was predictable: Both preside over GOP majorities that are threatened thanks to competitive races in Latino-heavy states like Arizona, Nevada and Florida.
More surprising was the condemnation from Gingrich, who has transparently jockeyed for a spot on Trump’s ticket.
“I don’t know what Trump’s reasoning was, and I don’t care,” Gingrich told The Washington Post. “His description of the judge in terms of his parentage is completely unacceptable.”
Gingrich was even sharper on “Fox News Sunday,” calling Trump’s remarks “inexcusable.”
Trump responded to Gingrich’s critique on Monday, telling “Fox and Friends” that the former House Speaker’s comments were “inappropriate.”

‘One of the worst mistakes’

“This is one of the worst mistakes Trump has made,” Gingrich said.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman who has provided key Republican support for Trump’s foreign policy stances and is also often named as a prospective vice presidential candidate, rebuked Trump’s comments about the judge on ABC’s “This Week.”
“I think that he’s going to have to change,” Corker said of Trump’s overall behavior and campaign tactics.
Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican who has been outspoken about his opposition to Trump, tweeted Monday: “Public Service Announcement: Saying someone can’t do a specific job because of his or her race is the literal definition of “racism.”
Trump’s campaign downplayed the impact of his assertion that the judge’s Mexican heritage could preclude him from delivering fair rulings in the Trump University case.
Another campaign adviser laughed when asked if Trump officials can talk to the candidate about watching what he says.
Alberto Gonzales, who led the Justice Department under President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed Saturday that Curiel’s Mexican heritage shouldn’t be enough to disqualify him from overseeing the case. But, Gonzales said, Trump is entitled to a fair trial, and the appearance of impropriety could be enough for him to reasonably request that Curiel recuse himself.
Trump thanked Gonzales for his support.
Inside the Republican Party, campaigns and donor circles, fear over the damage Trump’s remarks could do to the party’s relationship with Latino voters was palpable.
“Awful,” a top Republican official said of Trump’s attack on the judge. “We are all beside ourselves.”
The official went on to say that “you have to feel for Paul Ryan,” who had just announced his support for Trump.

Depth of concerns

In a series of interviews with donors, fundraisers and congressional officials, the depth of the concerns about what Trump’s latest attacks underscore become clear.
“Honestly? My worst fear. Call me stupid — I was one of the guys who figured he’d do the whole pivot thing,” said one donor, referring to an often-used strategy of moving more to the middle after securing the nomination.
The donor, who had been active for several candidates during the primary, said he was “ready to get in line” once Trump signed the joint-fundraising agreement last month with the RNC. The bold names associated with the joint agreement — people like businessman Woody Johnson — were enough of a sign, the donor said.
Now? “Not so much.”
But it may be bigger than that, according to several GOP officials. Republicans are defending 24 seats in the Senate while holding a slim four-seat majority. While the House majority is significantly more robust — 58 seats — there are members in that chamber who saw their seats move into riskier positions the day Trump locked up the nomination.
The solution — one that top GOP officials on Capitol Hill have been repeating in the weeks since — has been to make sure top donors dump cash into the down ballot races.
Up to this point, they’ve done just that. One fundraiser with ties to one of the two primary GOP congressional super PACs said donors have been “burning up the phone lines” trying to figure out how to help protect GOP majorities in Congress.
The primary Senate GOP super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, had more than $16.3 million on hand at the end of April, the last time numbers were reported with the FEC. The group raised more than $4 million in March and April alone — a number that, according to the fundraiser, will increase “significantly” in the months ahead.
The top House super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, nearly doubled its 2015 fundraising in the first quarter of 2016 alone.
“The concern is — do we get to the point that all the money in the world doesn’t matter?” asked another donor, who said his whole goal this cycle was to protect House and Senate candidates. “We’re obviously not there right now, but stupid s— like this really makes you wonder.”
Democrats are certainly trying to make each Trump comment sting. The party’s House and Senate campaign committees are firing out a steady clip of press releases attempting to tie each vulnerable candidate to Trump. Democrats make clear those comments will be featured heavily in the fall in attack ads.
Perhaps more noticeably, over the weekend, talks between top GOP figures about the future of the party have become more urgent. Several Republican officials pointed to McConnell’s comments to Jake Tapper on CNN last week, where he first voiced concern about Trump’s effect on Latino voters mirroring that of Goldwater’s effect on black voters.
Yet those same officials watched McConnell go to great lengths not to say that Trump’s attacks on the judge in the Trump University case were racism.
“That was just painful,” said one Republican official who served in George W. Bush’s administration. The official added that the reality is McConnell — and Ryan and every Republican in a leadership position or facing an election challenge — “will be stuck dealing with the latest Trumpism every interview of every day, of every month until November.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated which committee Sen. Bob Corker is the chairman of. It is the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Voters are perplexed

The voters are perplexedThis article was reported by Katie Zezima in Indiana, Robert Samuels in New Jersey, Ed O’Keefe in Nevada, Vanessa Williams in North Carolina, Isaac Stanley-Becker in Virginia and Karen Tumulty in Washington.

The name of this town north of Terre Haute may be Clinton, but it is Donald Trump country — the kind of place where, on a perfect late-spring day, Tim Donna and two buddies could be found taking turns shooting AR-15s at an outdoor firing range.

Donna, 53, voted for Trump, as did 70 percent of the Republicans who cast primary ballots here in Vermillion County. But in the weeks since, he has grown less thrilled about the prospect of a Trump presidency. Although Donna said he would never cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton, he worries about Trump’s foreign policy — which Donna said “will suck” — and he has watched with alarm as the mogul-turned-presumptive Republican nominee has claimed that an Indiana-born federal judge’s Hispanic heritage made him biased.

“I’m afraid his mouth is gonna get us in trouble,” Donna said of his preferred candidate.

Returning home from a walk close to her gated golfing community near Gainesville, Va., Sue Munson, 67, sounded as if she is practically Donna’s mirror opposite.

An independent, she expects to vote for Clinton, though she has trepidation about the former secretary of state. Munson worries that Clinton, with all her years of public controversy, is “very divisive.”

But mostly what drives her toward Clinton is her feeling that Trump is a “threat to democracy” who would leave America “so tarnished we would never recover.”

With the wildest primary season in memory coming to an end and the two major parties having settled on their nominees, it seems fair to say that the state of our union is . . . perplexed.

As voters turn to the real choice that is ahead, they are having trouble getting to yes with either candidate.

In dozens of interviews across the country — from heavily white small towns in Indiana to black neighborhoods in Charlotte, from retirement communities in suburban Virginia to Hispanic and Muslim enclaves in Las Vegas and New Jersey, respectively — voters sounded far more passionate talking about why they could not vote for one of the two candidates than in making a positive case for either.

A phrase that came up more than any other was, “the lesser of two evils,” reflecting the fact that Trump and Clinton have higher unfavorability ratings than any two candidates the two parties have put forward since polling began.

On the night six states including California and New Jersey went to the polls, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) vowed to continue “the struggle,” even as rival Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had pivoted to thanking supporters and slamming Republican Donald Trump. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

The reality that Trump, the blunt outsider who slew the Republican establishment, could be president is finally hitting some who voted for him in the primary.

Since his candidacy announcement a year ago this week, Trump has seemed immune from the fallout of his outrageous comments, in part because he was playing to a Republican electorate and running in a crowded field.

But now that he has won his spot at the top of the ballot, the context has shifted. Even Trump supporters said they have been alarmed by his unpresidential behavior lately, particularly his sharp attacks on U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over a civil fraud lawsuit involving Trump University.

With Clinton, their reservations are the opposite, in some ways, from their fear of a Trumpian unknown. In her case, it is that voters think they know her too well.

She, too, won a spirited primary campaign — in her case, against an opponent who did surprisingly well by painting her as everything that is wrong about the status quo.

At a time when Americans want change and are fed up, can the ultimate insider shake off the accumulated ambivalence that has been built up around her since she stepped on the national stage a generation ago? The controversy over her use of a private email system when she was secretary of state has only reinforced their concerns about her trustworthiness.

“It’s a clown show. I’m pretty much embarrassed to be an American citizen,” said Tim Spendal, a registered Democrat who owns a meat market in Clinton and who hasn’t decided how he will vote in November.

“I’m probably going to wait until they hash it out. Watch a debate,” Spendal said. “I want to know if Trump can speak without being racist and pissing people off.”

Interviews across the country suggest that the problems afflicting Trump and Clinton are unsettling many of their potential supporters, but in most cases are not yet disqualifying. This dynamic is the backdrop for the intense and nasty battle ahead.

The time-honored playbook for running against an unpopular opponent is to make the election about that other person. Trump and Clinton probably will seek to mobilize their own supporters with aggressive attacks on each other, while each also is likely to try to peel voters away from the other by stoking the doubts already present in their minds.

Polls indicate that only about one-quarter of the public thinks that the country is on the right track.

“I look around, and I see our nation is hurting. Something’s gotta change, or else we’re not gonna have nothing,” said Samantha Barber, 31, who works at a food-processing plant in Mooresville, Ind., and who worries about what the future holds for her three elementary-school-age children.

But when this undecided voter considered the standard-bearers that the two parties will be putting at the top of the ballot in November, she said: “I don’t like any of them. It’s just a big game.”

For minority communities in particular, this year is a far cry from the euphoria of 2008, with its prospect of making then-Sen. Barack Obama the first black president.

But for many nonwhites, Trump’s candidacy may have ignited a new sense of purpose. His talk of building a wall on the Mexican border and temporarily banning Muslims from entering the country has elevated the stakes in what the current polls show to be a tight presidential race.

“It’s woken up an immense giant, and it’s giving us that boost that we needed to understand the value that we have in the community, and helped us realize that if we don’t unite and we don’t turn out, we’ll lose,” said Nelson Araujo, 28, a Nevada state assemblyman who represents some of the most heavily Hispanic parts of Las Vegas. “It is a big election cycle, but the severity and consequences could be really grave, at least for our community, should Trump come out successful.”

On the other side of the country, in South Brunswick, N.J., Azra Baig, who was attending a mosque for the final prayers of the night during Islam’s holy month, expressed a similar sentiment.

“We don’t need to just watch, we need to get out and vote,” said Baig, a 43-year-old registered nurse who was the first female Asian American voted to the school board in South Brunswick. “This is a dangerous man; we don’t know what he’s capable of. That’s what makes it so scary.”

Dealing with doubts on Trump

Three times a week, Norma Quinn, 90, watches the squabbling and name-calling on cable news as she undergoes dialysis in Prince William County, the fast-growing exurban area that is considered a bellwether in battleground state Virginia.

“In the beginning, I was warming up to Trump — he doesn’t talk like a politician, which was refreshing,” she said. “But he has made such a fool of himself. His conduct has disturbed me, and I don’t think I want him to lead our country.”

Nor does she think much of his ideas.

Build a wall along the Mexican border? “Not possible,” Quinn said.

And those comments about Curiel, the judge? “Clearly racist. He has to apologize.”

Trump often notes how his candidacy produced record numbers in the Republican primary, and predicts that he can bring out voters — and win states — that do not usually end up in the GOP column.

“That’s a very important part of our strategy,” his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said in an interview. “Now, we’ve got a clear choice; there’s a clear dichotomy in this election.”

But if Cathy Horn of Brooklyn, Ind., is any indication, Trump still has some work to do within his party, winning over those who voted for other GOP candidates.

Horn, 66, has worked at a steel mill for 44 years and supported Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the primary. As she sat in her Saturn SUV the other day in Brooklyn, she pondered her choice for the fall.

“I don’t want to see either of them in there,” Horn said. “Mr. Trump does not have the finesse to be president. Hillary is getting in because of her husband and because she’s female.”

Horn was horrified to hear Trump’s comments about Curiel, and cannot understand why GOP leaders such as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) can denounce what he said and still support him.

On some level, Horn said, she is simply mystified: “I feel as though I don’t know what’s going on in our country.”

Steve Dowling, 53, is another Kasich voter who feels torn. A district sales manager in Stow, Ohio, he was visiting for a conference.

He will be closely watching the GOP convention in his home state in July for signs that Trump is up to the job.

But he also said he is open to an alternative to the two major-party standard-bearers.

“I’m hopeful someone comes in and is a stronger candidate,” he said at an Applebee’s restaurant in Camby, Ind. “I don’t know if we needed it in the past, but if these are the candidates, it is going to open the door for a third party.”

Jeff Cooprider, a 67-year-old retiree, cast his vote in the Indiana primary for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). He forgives Trump’s comment about Curiel but has another concern: his temperament.

“I think we’re headed for a war if we get Trump in there,” Cooprider said at a McDonald’s in Terre Haute, Ind. “Not just over there, but over here, with all the protesters.”

But, he added, “I just can’t make myself vote for Hillary, so that leaves Trump, I guess.”

Others say they voted for Trump, and remain glad they did.

Gary Shay, 71, was nursing a cup of coffee in Clinton at Benjamin’s restaurant, a .38 Special on his hip.

“I want to bring this country back to where it used to be,” Shay said. “It all comes back to basics: He’s a Christian. God, guns and guts. And patriotism.”

Finding their way to Clinton

Carmen Blackmon, 54, runs an after-school program in Charlotte, where African Americans and Hispanics make up 40 percent of the population.

Those two groups also propelled Clinton toward the presumptive nomination. Clinton won 78 percent of African American voters and 60 percent of Latinos. Among whites, Sanders narrowly edged her out in exit polls across the primaries.

Blackmon likes the idea of electing the first female president. But, she said, “I am nowhere near as happy or excited as I was when President Obama was running.”

Torn between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Democratic primary, “I finally settled for Hillary, because the main thing for me was, well, who really does have the greatest experience? Who really will be able to go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump?” Blackmon said. “I can’t say that I’m excited about her being my choice, but there’s no way — I cannot vote for Donald Trump.”

There was a similar tone of resignation at Mariana’s SuperMarket, which is 5 1/2 miles northeast of Las Vegas’s famed Strip and Trump’s gold hotel tower there.

In 106-degree heat, a Democratic organizer was trying to sign up new voters as part of the party’s goal of adding 16,000 people from this neighborhood to the rolls by the time registration ends in October.

Ericka Morales, a 19-year-old Army reservist, stopped and took a clipboard.

“I was kind of hoping it was going to be Bernie,” she said. Morales does not think that all of Trump’s ideas are bad, but immigration is her top concern, because she has family members whom he would round up and deport.

As for Clinton: “She’s kind of taken the wrong side. But she’s a woman. She’s going to represent me a little more.”

Jose Macias, 27, was voting early Wednesday, ahead of this week’s Nevada primaries for local and congressional elections. The national debate over immigration policy is very real to him. His father is eligible to stay in this country under Obama’s delayed-action program for parents of Americans, which Republicans have argued is an unconstitutional abuse of executive power; his mother died of a stroke two years ago because she was too scared, as an undocumented immigrant, to call an ambulance.

“I don’t want to wake up in a country where Trump is my president,” Macias said. But he also acknowledged that, as a Sanders supporter, he is not without misgivings about Clinton.

“She never really inspired me, and right now, I’m at a point where I don’t know if I trust her,” he said, adding that one way she could remedy that is to add Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to her ticket.

At the South Brunswick mosque, worshipers were also coming to grips with the fact that a major political party is getting ready to nominate a presidential candidate who would ban people of their faith — temporarily, Trump says — from coming to the United States.

“Anyone but Trump,” said Nouran Shehata, 21, a recent graduate from Rutgers University. “Hillary Clinton was not my preferred choice, but we recognize the big risk.”


How Trump Can Win The Nomination

Let’s get the easy part out of the way first. Bernie Sanders went into the New York Democratic primary with essentially no path to catching Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, and he leaves it with even less of one after Clinton’s victory. Despite some national polls showing the race effectively a tie, Clinton has a lead in pledged delegates and superdelegates that Sanders cannot catch. Unless Clinton is somehow forced from the race, she will be the nominee. Sanders assuredly still has some victories to come, but the eventual outcome really is not in doubt.

Donald Trump did what he needed to do in New York on Tuesday night. He easily eclipsed 50% of the vote statewide and in most of the congressional districts, giving him 90 of the Empire State’s 95 delegates (as of Wednesday morning). His path to winning a delegate majority remains open, but it is perilous.Now, on to the Republicans, where the outcome remains very much in doubt.

Table 1 provides a roadmap for how Trump could get to the 1,237 delegate mark. It isnot a prediction of how he will perform — the potential pitfalls are many for him to accomplish the feat — but is meant to show there is at least some reasonable chance that he could still reach a delegate majority. But that’s far from a certainty. We did not overreact to Ted Cruz’s victory in Wisconsin and declare that a contested convention was all but certain, and we’re not going to overreact in the other direction after Trump’s strong New York victory.

Table 1: Trump roadmap to a Republican delegate majority

How Trump Can Win The Nomination
Note: Colorado, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Guam are not included in the table even though they have some unbound delegates still pending. Trump could win support from a small number of delegates in those states and/or support from bound or unbound delegates who are officially uncommitted in other states and territories as well as delegates currently bound to former presidential candidates.

Source: Delegate data from The Green Papers

As things stand after New York, Trump is at 847 delegates (846 bound, 1 unbound based on The Green Papers’ count and the AP’s congressional district results). There are 620 remaining bound delegates, which means Trump needs to win 63% of them to get to 1,237 bound backers. To just attain 1,237 delegates regardless of bound status, Trump must win about 56% of the remaining 700 delegates (the 620 bound, as well as 80 unbound from Colorado, Guam, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, and Wyoming). This does not include any gains among delegates allocated to former candidates or officially uncommitted delegates (bound or unbound). Given the opposition to Trump that exists within the party, the fully bound path may be the only sure thing for him. However, there may be additional unbound delegates who will back him, though only one has announced support up to this point.

With that overview, here are the five most important tasks Trump must complete in order to get to a delegate majority. Completing all five of these tasks will not be easy, to say the least.

1. Do more than just win all five states next Tuesday (April 26)

Five northeastern/mid-Atlantic states vote next Tuesday, and Trump appears to be a favorite in all of them: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. However, in four of these five states, just winning won’t be sufficient.

In Connecticut, Trump can sweep all 28 delegates. Given the results in neighboring Massachusetts and New York — Trump won just under 50% in the former and far over in the latter — that seems like a real possibility. If Trump wins a majority of the vote in Connecticut, he will get all 13 statewide delegates. The other 15 delegates are awarded winner take all by congressional district. Trump could very well win all five, although John Kasich could perhaps challenge him in the affluent Fourth Congressional District. Trump just about maximized his delegate haul in New York: Can he do it in Connecticut, too?

Trump should also do very well in Rhode Island, but it awards its delegates in a very proportional manner, so all three candidates will almost certainly win delegates there. The best Trump practically could do is to win 10 of the state’s 19 delegates, but nine is a more realistic goal.

Maryland is winner-take-all statewide and by congressional district. A realistic goal for Trump is winning all the statewide delegates and six of the eight congressional districts, or 32 of 38 delegates. Anything worse than that narrows Trump’s path to a majority. Kasich could be Trump’s main challenger in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, which were hostile to Trump in Virginia’s March 1 primary. However, the D.C. suburbs are split among several different congressional districts, which could dilute Kasich’s vote and benefit Trump.

Finally, there’s Pennsylvania. Trump is leading there by a significant amount in recent polls. But only 17 of the state’s 71 delegates are pledged to the statewide winner. The other 54 are directly elected and officially uncommitted. However, some have said they would support the statewide winner or the candidate who wins their congressional district. A big statewide win by Trump could effectively net him more than just 17 delegates in Pennsylvania, and he’ll almost assuredly need more than just 17 votes from the Keystone State to win the nomination on the first ballot. So Trump needs to put on a show for the Pennsylvania uncommitteds by not just winning, but winning big. Of course, there would be nothing to stop the uncommitted delegates from voting for someone else besides Trump on the convention floor, claiming perhaps that they “did what was best for the party.” So the potential reliance on these delegates to get over the top is a serious problem for Trump. But as Table 1 shows, if Trump were to get 14 of those unbound delegates (so about a quarter of them) and the rest of this roadmap played out as written, he would arrive at the magic majority number of 1,237.

The one state where winning by a single vote would be just fine for Trump is Delaware, which is a straightforward, winner-take-all state. There’s little reason to think he won’t do that.

2. Win Indiana (May 3)

The anti-Trump forces appear to be hoping to re-run their successful Wisconsin strategy in Indiana, another Midwestern state that awards its delegates winner-take-all statewide and by congressional district. That means the statewide winner, in all likelihood, will win the lion’s share of the delegates. Cruz is very clearly gunning for Indiana, and Trump may not have a path to a delegate majority without it. The New York Times’ Nate Cohn wrote aninformative analysis of Indiana that begins by arguing “It may be Indiana or bust for Donald Trump.” He’s probably right. We think Indiana is fairly similar to Missouri, a Midwestern state with a southern orientation. Missouri also happened to be the closest primary in this year’s race: Trump won statewide by about 0.2 percentage points as both he and Cruz got about 40% of the vote. Cruz will almost certainly have to clear 40% to beat Trump in Indiana, and he very well could.

3. Win at least a majority of delegates in the confusing West Virginia primary (May 10)

There’s little question that West Virginia, an almost entirely white state with lower-than-average levels of median income and education, is tailor-made for Donald Trump. The Mountain State is the only state that is entirely defined as part of Appalachia, the 13-state generally white, working-class region that extends from western New York all the way to northern Alabama and Mississippi, and Trump has done very well in Appalachia so far, winning 297 of the 318 Appalachian counties* that have voted so far. It would be a gigantic upset if Trump did not win the most votes in West Virginia.

However, that does not necessarily mean he will win all or even most of the delegates.

Only three of the state’s 34 delegates are bound to the statewide popular vote winner. The rest are directly elected on the ballot, as in Pennsylvania. While delegate candidates are listed with a presidential preference (or are listed as “uncommitted”) on the ballot, unlike in Pennsylvania, the voting process is very tedious and time-consuming. Among the complications: voters will have to choose 22 at-large delegates. They cannot choose more than 22, or all of their selections will be thrown out, and they also cannot choose more than two from any one county. To read more about the confounding intricacies of the West Virginia primary, check out these pieces from Hoppy Kerchevalof MetroNews in Charleston and Kyle Cheney of Politico. But the bottom line here is this: Trump may dominate the popular vote in West Virginia but not even get a majority of the delegates. In Cheney’s write-up, West Virginia’s GOP national committeeman said he was skeptical that Trump could win more than 20 of the Mountain State’s delegates. Trump’s threadbare organization faces a stern test in educating the state’s voters on this confusing process; otherwise, he may fall very short of his target in West Virginia, which really should be winning every single delegate. Our roadmap above has Trump winning only 20 of 34 West Virginia delegates, which is perhaps conservative for Trump, but it reflects the uncertainty in a state that otherwise seems quite favorable to him.

4. Be competitive in Oregon (May 17), Washington (May 24), and New Mexico (June 7)

There are limited data to work with for Oregon and Washington, two states that both use mail-in voting, though the demographics suggest neither is great territory for Trump. While Oregon uses an almost purely proportional system based on the statewide vote, Washington’s district system is akin to New York’s: If someone wins a majority in a district, that candidate wins all three district delegates; otherwise, they are awarded 2-1 to first and second in most cases. But the Evergreen State’s statewide delegates are awarded proportionally with a 20% threshold. An added complication in Washington is that Democrats already held their caucus on March 26. Although there is a Democratic contest on the primary ballot, it has no bearing on delegate allocation. As Washington doesn’t have party registration, it’s possible that some Democrats could opt to vote in the GOP primary, even if it requires them to sign an oath declaring they are Republicans and haven’t participated in another party’s nomination process — given caucus turnout, many Washington Democrats surely didn’t. This could swell GOP vote totals, perhaps to Trump’s detriment. Meanwhile, New Mexico is positioned between Trump territory in Arizona and Cruz country in Texas, so it could be very competitive. But the Land of Enchantment allocates proportionally by statewide vote, though with a 15% threshold that Kasich might struggle to reach, meaning it will be difficult for anyone to win a large share. Trump doesn’t need to win all these states, and we suspect he probably won’t win either of the Pacific Northwest states. But he needs to get some delegates out of them; probably somewhere around 40, as noted in Table 1.

5. Win California and capture two-thirds or more of its delegates

California, which along with four other states votes on the final day of the primary calendar, awards 159 of its 172 delegates via winner-take-all by congressional district. This will be a 53-district battle for three delegates in each. The well-respected Field Poll recently found evidence that Cruz may challenge Trump not only in some conservative parts of the state, such as the Central Valley, but also in Los Angeles County. Meanwhile, it’s possible that Kasich could peel off some wealthy, highly-educated districts in the Bay Area. Outside of LA, Trump leads by a large margin in the rest of Southern California, analogous in some ways to his large win in Arizona. Overall, Trump can’t plausibly sweep the state, but if he wins statewide by enough he should win plenty of congressional districts. In terms of overall delegate arithmetic, he is going to need to win close to two-thirds of the districts; winning 35 districts and statewide would work out to 118 delegates.

BONUS: Win Nebraska (May 10), Montana (June 7), or South Dakota (June 7)

At this point, we’re assuming that Cruz will capture the winner-take-all states of Nebraska, Montana, and South Dakota. This is based primarily on Trump’s general underperformance in much of the Great Plains and Interior West. Additionally, both Nebraska and South Dakota are closed primaries, which have overall been a boon to Cruz (Montana is not, and perhaps Trump could be more competitive there). There’s really no polling to guide analysis in any of these three states, and maybe there’s more support for Trump than we think. Therefore, we can’t completely rule out the possibility of Trump winning one of these states even though, in all likelihood, he will not.


There’s one description of all five of Trump’s steps above: challenging but possible. This also describes Trump’s chances of getting to the magic number of 1,237 by the end of the primary season. If he does not make it but is close, perhaps within 100 delegates or less, it’s possible that he could persuade some uncommitted delegates (like members of the Pennsylvania contingent) to come to his side. But if he’s considerably short, by 100 delegates or more, then his path to victory is likely closed: Trump simply does not seem to have the organizational wherewithal to win a convention that goes to multiple ballots, particularly because Cruz is running circles around him in the actual selection of delegates. There may be a majority bound to Trump on the first ballot at the convention, but we doubt that a majority of delegates, in their heart of hearts, will support Trump if given the option of defecting. That’s why Trump winning a majority in New York was so important to his chances — but also why he has several difficult hurdles remaining in front of him.

*There are 428 total Appalachian counties, a total that includes eight independent cities in Virginia. So far, 10 of the 13 states that include Appalachian areas have held caucuses or primaries: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The three that have not are Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

By Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley, Sabato’s Crystal Ball


Trump has the GOP in an identity crisis

Donald Trump, billionaire real estate developer and entertainer, has thrown the Gop into an identity crisis.
Donald Trump
Only a year ago, Republicans were congratulating themselves on having the strongest field of presidential candidates in a generation — diverse, highly credentialed conservatives who might be the salvation of a party that had lost the popular vote in five of the past six elections.
But now, the question is how close the Grand Old Party will come to annihilating itself and what it stands for.Donald Trump — dismissed by GOP elders for months as an entertaining fringe figure who would self-destruct — has staged a hostile takeover and rebranded the party in his own image. What is being left by the wayside is any sense of a Republican vision for the country or a set of shared principles that could carry the party forward.

A substance-free shout-fest billed as a presidential debate Thursday night marked a new low in a campaign that has seen more than its share of them.

The increasingly prohibitive front-runner and his three remaining opponents spent nearly the entire two hours hurling insults back and forth, with Trump at one point making a reference to the size of his genitalia.

“My party is committing suicide on national television,” tweeted Jamie Johnson, an Iowa political operative who had been an adviser to former Texas governor Rick Perry, one of the dozen Republicans whose presidential campaigns have been incinerated by the Trump phenomenon. The latest, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, formally dropped out Friday.

Also Friday, Trump clarified earlier statements that as president, he would order the U.S. military to waterboard militants and carry out other acts that violate international law.

In a statement, he said he understands “that the United States is bound by laws and treaties and I will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matters.”

In Thursday’s debate, moderator Bret Baier had asked Trump what he would do if service members refused to comply with his orders for exteme measures. The candidate replied, “If I say do it, they’re going to do it. That’s what leadership is all about.”

Trump’s musings on torture were among the many remarks that have alarmed establishment Republicans as worrisome and reckless.

“Republicans in general tend to be a group of people who like to view themselves as serious, having decorum, being orderly, being thoughtful,” said Roger Porter, who served as a senior policy official in the White Houses of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and who is now a professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

But, he said, Thursday’s debate “was the culmination of a long process of the people running for president this year finding themselves drug into a maelstrom in which they look anything but serious and calm and thoughtful and responsible. That’s very distressing for most Republicans. How did we get to this situation?”

More urgent, many Republicans say, is the question of how they get out of it.

Part of the decision is how to handle Trump himself.

Republican leaders are divided. Some are focusing their efforts on stopping the billionaire celebrity, even if it means overturning the will of GOP voters at the July convention in Cleveland. Others are arguing that they should coalesce behind him, so that Republicans will have their best chance this fall of beating Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, who is not without her own vulnerabilities.

Beyond that, some worry that even as Trump is bringing record numbers to the polls in the primary race, he is changing the very identity of the party. He is a new kind of Republican, one who flaunts his apostasies on conservative principles, who slings vulgar and divisive language, and who has an ostentatious disregard for the system.

All of which captures a current in the electorate. “The main pendulum in American politics is no longer swinging from left to right. It’s swinging between insiders and outsiders,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.). “It’s those in the political class against those who are not — that’s the divide in the country, in the party.”

Arthur Brooks, an independent who heads the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank, said that “this is completely predictable, given where we are in the recovery from our financial crisis.”

“Financial crises take 15 to 20 years to clear, as a historical matter, and after two or three years, wealthy people have recovered, but working people haven’t,” he said. “So the result is they turn to populist solutions, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing.”

The GOP has always had internal tensions, but they have generally been over ideology — pitting its internationalists against its more libertarian non-interventionists on foreign policy, or its supply-siders vs. its deficit hawks on fiscal issues.

“What is happening now is bigger and less remediable in part because the battles in the past were over conservatism, an actual political philosophy,” Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, a former Reagan speechwriter,wrote this week.

“We are witnessing history. Something important is ending,” she added.

During the debate, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) insisted: “We are not going to turn over the conservative movement, or the party of Lincoln or Reagan, for example, to someone whose positions are not conservative. To someone who last week defended Planned Parenthood for 30 seconds [on] a debate stage. To someone, for example, that has no ideas on foreign [policy] — someone who thinks the nuclear triad is a rock band from the 1980s.”

Nonetheless, Rubio said he will support Trump if the mogul is the party’s nominee. So did the other two Republican candidates, Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Gov. John Kasich (Ohio).

That is in part because the party put itself in handcuffs on that question in September, when its leaders were terrified that Trump would bolt and run as an independent. He signed an oath to support whoever wins the nomination.

Now, it is arguable that Republicans would be better off if Trump had launched a third-party bid. Presumably, he would have been training most of his fire on Clinton, rather than the Republicans he mocks as “Little Marco” and “Lyin’ Ted.”

Still, Republicans are closely divided on the impact that Trump is having on their party’s image. In a December Marist poll for MSNBC and Telemundo, 43 percent of those surveyed said he is helping the GOP brand, while 40 percent said he is hurting it.

However, the numbers showed a negative trend from the same poll three months earlier, in which 48 percent said Trump was an asset to the party’s image and 35 percent said he was damaging it.

Where Noonan and others see the Trump phenomenon as a sea change for the GOP, Porter predicted that it will be transitory. He noted that the party went through a somewhat parallel identity crisis in 1940, when it nominated businessman Wendell Willkie, who only a year before was a registered Democrat.

Four years later, it turned back to a conventional Republican, New York Gov. Thomas Dewey.

“I don’t see this as having that big of a long-term effect, because I think it is sui generis to Donald Trump,” Porter said. “It’s very big in the short run. I don’t think it’s very big over the long run, because people have very short memories.”

Robert Costa and Emily Guskin contributed to this report. 

Karen Tumulty is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where she received the 2013 Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting.

Trump is the alpha male on the rise

 Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Clemson, S.C., on Feb. 10

As Donald Trump’s GOP opponents descend on South Carolina, they are running smack into a phenomenon. In this state, Trump is riding a wave of adulation more common for rock stars, faith healers or South American dictators. His rally crowds run into the thousands — some in excess of 10,000 — with cars parked for miles down the sides of roads leading to venues. South Carolina Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster — who recently endorsed Trump — describes a woman waiting eight hours without eating to keep her place in the front of the crowd, and promptly fainting when Trump’s speech began. “Nineteen-year-old girls have him sign things and have tears in their eyes,” says McMaster, tracing lines down his cheeks.

McMaster is what Trump hopes to see more of in the future: an establishment figure who has accommodated to his version of political reality. The lieutenant governor — courtly and dressed to the nines — was once South Carolina’s attorney general and the chairman of the state Republican Party. Speaking to me in his office in the state capitol, McMaster describes three recent rallies he attended with Trump. “At each stop, Trump asked me, ‘You have been in politics for decades. Have you ever seen anything like it?’ Each time I told him, ‘I have never seen anything like it.’ ”

What explains this level of enthusiasm? It is not Trump’s political organization in the state, which local pros describe as more of a glorified advance operation. Trump South Carolina co-chairman Ed McMullen explained Trump’s appeal to me this way: “He is the alpha male who says exactly what is on his mind.”

A revealing description, more biological than philosophic. Trump is running an exceptionally visceral campaign. His goal is not so much the inspiration of the country as the domination of the other candidates. And it has generally worked. They respond to his attacks, hush when he shushes them and envy his huge . . . poll numbers.

Trump holds first rally since his New Hampshire win

Fresh off his win at the New Hampshire primary, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spoke to a packed crowd in Pendleton, S.C., on Feb. 10. (Reuters)

Trump appeals fairly broadly in South Carolina — many opponents of Trump I talked with in the state report having some relative who loves him. But there are lots of angry, rural white males at his rallies. They have reason to feel disadvantaged in our economy and overlooked in our politics. This is mixed here (as elsewhere) with baser motives. On racial matters, according to one senior South Carolina Republican, Trump is using “not a dog whistle but a train whistle.” His Muslim immigration ban was announced in Charleston Harbor, aboard the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier. His questioning of Ted Cruz’s faith because “not too many evangelicals come out of Cuba” was taken as an argument that Cruz is foreign, not one of us. And the Trump campaign’s willingness to associate with Jake Knotts — the former state senator who famously called Gov. Nikki Haley (R) a racial epithet — has been taken as a signal.

In South Carolina, Trump is encouraging elements of the party for which old times there are not forgotten. And this is clearly complicating Haley’s attempt to reform and modernize the GOP here, symbolized by the empty spot on the front lawn of the statehouse where the Confederate battle flag once flew.

Everyone I spoke with in South Carolina who wasn’t paid by one of the candidates (there are a few) believes that Trump will win. And it now seems likely that Trump will be unstoppable in much of the South, the region that dominates the primary calendar through mid-March.

Republicans who remain unreconciled to the Trump dynasty now comfort themselves with one scenario. After the shock of early Trump victories wears off, some candidate in a winnowed field will need to rise and restart the race. “Trump,” this heretofore mythic figure will argue, “has won some early primaries in the South. But he has a ceiling of support — just 35 percent in the GOP — that dooms him with the national electorate. So, here I am, the only candidate who can unite the party and win a majority in November.” At that point, the spigots of Republican money will open and the electoral terrain — in Illinois, Missouri and Ohio, and eventually in New York and California — will dramatically improve.

All of which depends on two questionable assumptions. First, I can remember when Trump’s ceiling was supposedly 25 percent. After a series of victories, it may rise again. Second, this scenario assumes that any of the mainstream candidates are capable of cutting the alpha down to size.

Opinion writer February 11 at 8:04 PM Read more from Michael Gerson’s archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook .