Ready or not, the world should brace itself for Donald Trump. After the latest set of presidential primaries, the maverick real estate developer is only 287 delegates away from securing the Republican nomination.
A Trump nomination is no longer inconceivable – and he has offered his views on foreign affairs to drive home the point. Trump has been able to reverse the run of defeats of a few weeks ago, and is winning by healthier margins than before. In the past, he never secured over 50% of the vote even in the primaries he won. Now, he is doing so handily. His momentum seems to be building up and Republican voters who are not part of his faithful poorly-educated white working class base are also finding merit in his mixture of left wing populist economics, right wing nativism and brash showmanship.
There are probably a number of reasons why Trump is getting a second wind. Part of it has to do with a backlash against overt attempts by the Republican party leadership to try and find a means to stop him from winning the nomination.
Trump has seized on this as evidence that he is fighting against a moneyed and distant elite, one that has betrayed the average American by allowing in job-taking immigrants and signing Sinophilic trade agreements. The announcement that his two remaining contenders, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, would seek to carve up the remaining primaries and ask their supporters to vote tactically against Trump seems to have helped the latter build the narrative of an elite conspiracy against him without, so far, actually helping either Cruz or Kasich. Neither Cruz nor Kasich command sufficient loyalty among their voters to order them to march into another person’s camp.
Whatever little influence they did have was probably more than negated by voter resentment at being manipulated in such a ham-handed manner. Lastly, given Cruz’s evangelical base and Kasich’s reputation for moderation and governance, it is easy to see why a supporter of one would find voting for the other unpalatable. Trump did not benefit directly, but the fact that the recent primaries have seen lower turnouts than the earlier ones may indicate what this tenuous alliance accomplished — and how it has benefited Trump. Given the insurgent character of this entire US presidential campaign, in both the Republican and Democratic races, trying to fix the primary system against Trump is probably helping him.
There can always be many a slip between cup and lip in an election as polarised and unpredictable as this one. Trump’s victory is not assured. But the signs are now in the stars that he will either secure the Republican nomination or destroy the party in its attempts to deny him the ticket.