Donald Trump declared himself the Republican Party's "presumptive" presidential nominee following his sweeping victory in Tuesday's primaries. The large margin of Trump's wins not only makes it nearly impossible to stop him from receiving the GOP nomination, but it also serves as notice to Tuesday's other big winner, Democrat Hillary Clinton, that Trump will be a formidable opponent in the November election.
Trump swept every county in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware, while losing only a small handful of counties in Rhode Island and Connecticut. The demographic break down of Trump's victories is impressive according to exit polls done in three states. For instance, in Maryland Trump was the first choice for Republican women, men, conservatives, moderates and every income group. In Connecticut Trump won all income and education groups, including Republican voters with college degrees. And in Pennsylvania Trump won among Republican voters who described themselves as angry, anti-establishment and against trade deals.
Trump has received nearly 10 million votes since February's Iowa Caucus, millions more votes than each of his remaining opponents, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich. Trump needs to secure fewer than 300 delegates to reach the 1237 delegates required to win the nomination in the first ballot of the Republican convention. Cruz has put all his marbles into winning the Indiana primary next Tuesday, including coordinating with Kasich's campaign, but Trump leads in state polls taken before his blowout victories Tuesday. Trump has promised to campaign hard to win Indiana.
The fact that Trump has done so well defies conventional wisdom. His unconventional presidential campaign stands out for its lack of political correctness and detailed policy positions. But that is what appeals most to his supporters. His supporters are angry at leaders of both parties for decades of campaign promises unfulfilled, for endless gridlock and mismanagement. They have seen manufacturing jobs disappear, the nation's infrastructure crumble and growing income inequality. Many were devastated as a result of the 2008 market crash, the worst since the Great Depression, and are still struggling. Meanwhile, they fear immigrants in this country illegally will take jobs and the government will take away their rights.
Enter Donald Trump, who speaks brashly, bluntly and in a voice that resonates with millions of angry Americans. His campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again," speaks to a large faction of Republicans and independents who have had it with politics. It doesn't matter to them that Trump insults Mexicans as rapists, women, Muslims, as well as his opponents and some world leaders. It doesn't matter that he has flip-flopped on social issues, or that he doesn't seem to have a firm grasp of foreign policy. His supporters don't care because he will be different than politics as usual, they really believe in outsider Donald Trump, they trust him.
Yet, according to recent polls, more that 60 per cent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Trump, a number that would be insurmountable for any other candidate in the general election. He does a bit better among Republicans, even though his negatives are high, much to the chagrin of the GOP establishment, which has been trying to write him off for months. Last December, conservative writer Bill Kristol Tweeted, "Sticking to my prediction: Trump will win no caucuses or primaries, and will run behind Ron Paul in 2012 in IA and NH."
Fresh from her victories in 4 of 5 states Tuesday, Hillary Clinton is reaching out to Sanders' supporters and beginning to focus her rhetoric on the national election campaign. Many Clinton supporters believe that she will easily beat Trump in the presidential election next November. But not so fast Democrats. Trump already is shrewdly trying to get Senator Bernie Sanders to run as an independent in order to divide the Democratic vote.
Clinton, an experienced but flawed candidate, is about to undergo months of relentless and scathing assaults. Trump will attack her apparent strengths as failures, including her government experience, foreign policy service, leadership on women's issues and support among minorities. He will attack President Bill Clinton's character, and mock the Clinton's mercilessly. Trump will insult and bully Hillary Clinton in speeches and political ads in an effort to discourage Democrats and independents from voting for her election day. Hillary Clinton is going to be in for the fight of her life.
While it seemed unimaginable nearly a year ago, when he made his campaign announcement, that Donald Trump could win his party's nomination, it is now possible that Trump could actually win the presidency this November to become the nation's insulter-in-chief. Unpredictable, undisciplined and unscripted, Trump is dangerous. After all, as Trump said in his victory speech Tuesday night, "I am me. Why would I change?"