Donald Trump won New Hampshire and, tonight, South Carolina, after a narrow loss in Iowa. Traditionally, that’s the path to the Republican nomination, as MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki explains.
Trump becomes the fourth Republican since 1980 to lose Iowa, then win both NH and SC. The others were Reagan '80, Bush '88 and McCain '08.— Steve Kornacki (@SteveKornacki) February 21, 2016
So is he going to win?
A lot of people are still pretty invested in the idea that Trump can’t win (the nomination, I mean). Especially conservatives, because Trump represents the total rejection of the tenets of movement conservatism by Republican voters, who, it turns out, have actually just been voting for nationalism and xenophobia this whole time.
These people might point out that lots of people have been voting against Trump. His “ceiling” is said to be low. Lots of people are, supposedly, anti-Trump, but they are divided on which non-Trump person they ought to vote for instead.
So who will the anti-Trump person be? I have recently told people that I think (based on nothing in particular) that Ted Cruz would end up the nominee. I sort of imagined that, after his Iowa victory, Cruz would pull ahead in South Carolina. He didn’t, though. (But: Texas is on March 1, along with a bunch of other mostly very conservative states.)
Meanwhile, Marco Rubio is hoping that all the “establishment” guys will lose, and he will get all the money and endorsements. This is already basically beginning to happen, actually. But if he keeps not winning primaries, he won’t actually get any delegates. And when will he start winning primaries, exactly? He might win... Minnesota.
Super Tuesday:— Christopher Ingraham (@_cingraham) February 21, 2016
AL Trump +23
AK Trump +4
AR Cruz +4
GA Trump +9
MA Trump +14
MN Rubio +2
OK Trump +5
TN Trump +4
TX Cruz +5
VA Trump +6
(NB: Some—most?—of these polls are very, very old.)
But now Jeb Bush is gone, alas, and the establishment will surely rally around Marco Rubio.
(Unless they rally around John Kasich instead.)
Here’s the state of the GOP race: There’s a pretty clear Trump path to victory, based on polling and delegate math. For every other candidate, any conceivable path to victory relies on a lot of things going very, very well for them. Which isn’t to say that Trump’s inevitable—he’s just, by every traditional and conventional standard, the most likely nominee.