by Garrett M. Fahy
He is, to quote Steve Martin, rude, crude, and socially unacceptable. He is, thanks to GOP primary voters, also holding the most delegates, 458, he has won the most states (15), and fresh off another dominating performance last Tuesday, when he won 3 of 4 contests, he is favored to win the most delegates before the GOP convention.
To win the GOP nomination outright, Donald Trump needs 1,237 delegates, and will need to win approximately 54 percent of the remaining delegates. He may be closer to this goal after tonight, when voters in the large, important states of Florida and Ohio will award their delegates in winner-take-all contests.
After March 15, there will still be more than 1,000 delegates up for grabs, but if recent electoral history is any guide, and if GOP voters in the diverse states of Ohio, Florida, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina follow their compatriots in the earlier primaries, the Donald is poised to capture the majority of them, and likely, the GOP nomination.
Anything could happen, but since Trump’s entrance in the race last year, nothing has derailed the Trump train. If the Trump juggernaut keeps up its momentum, he will likely be the GOP nominee, and will face off against Hillary Clinton, notwithstanding her stunning loss to Bernie Sanders in the Michigan primary on Tuesday. What are the upsides of a Trump versus Hillary contest?
First, consider the following. A new ABC/Washington Post poll released this Tuesday found that more than 40 percent of Democrats do not consider Hillary honest and trustworthy. Also, the Republican National Committee opened a new legal front last week in the war over Hillary’s emails, filing two lawsuits on Wednesday seeking access to Hillary’s emails and text messages while Secretary of State.
The FBI continues to investigate Hillary’s email use and that of her senior staff. The obvious question is thus: would the FBI really spend months and millions of dollars investigating Hillary and her people just to throw in the towel and say “nothing to see here?” Not likely.
Things may get worse for Hillary politically in the near future too, as several of the the upcoming primary states (Ohio, Illinois, Missouri) more closely resemble Michigan demographically, where she got trounced, than the southern states where she has prevailed. And, her percentage of the black vote is falling, and Bernie Sanders has promised to take his campaign all the way to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in July.
Thus, even if Hillary is the nominee, she will be bruised, battered, financially depleted, untrusted, and on the precipice of an indictment. Critically, she will also still be a Clinton, tied to a name and legacy that was once popular, but is proving a huge liability, especially among young women voters.
Further, a point that even Democrats are starting to concede is this: every factor that weighed in favor of the Obama candidacy – his youth, vigor, race, newness – is unavailable to Hillary. Hillary has attempted to play the gender card, but in view of her demonization of Bill Clinton’s female victims, that card isn’t playing.
Conversely, Trump is slowly becoming the next Teflon nominee, immune from his rival’s (and the establishment’s) attacks, impervious to the political rules and realities that (helpfully) constrain most politicians, and increasingly popular among blue collar independents and Democrats. How else to explain that seven of the twelve contests Trump has won have been open contests, where voters of all party affiliations can participate?
As Thomas Frank wrote last week in The Guardian, Trump is resonating with Democratic, union, blue-collar voters because he is speaking their language: talking about how trade deals supported by both parties have translated into lost jobs outsourced to countries that “cheat,” and a result, America doesn’t “win.” Regardless of the economic truth of these sentiments, the message is connecting and blue-collar Democrats are giving Trump a look.
As a result of Trump winning Republican contests, increasingly winning over long-lost Reagan Democrats, and demonstrating a political fearlessness not seen in generations, he may stand in the best position of performing the greatest act of political public service of the last century: once and for all defeating and discrediting the Clinton brand. Godspeed.
This article originally appeared in the Orange County Register.