ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The final Opinion Savvy poll for FOX 5 and FOX affiliates in Tampa Bay and Orlando literally nailed the results of the actual vote in Tuesday’s Florida primary. Trump carried every county in Florida, save one. The final map in the Sunshine State looked like a mirror of Georgia’s results just weeks earlier.
One contributing factor to the Florida victory was team Trump’s decision to bring those who helped win Georgia, including Georgia Trump campaign manager, Brandon Phillips, into Florida to work their magic.
And by the time the dust settled in “Super Tuesday 2.0” Donald Trump had at least three states in the win corner and had amassed 621 total delegates. He was out performing his target delegate count needed to win his party’s nomination. His popular vote total from all contests held was over 7,500,000 votes.
An increasing number of analysts believe that Trump is virtually unstoppable, having steamrolled through the golden prize of Florida. Yet there remains the argument that one of his opponents is viable enough to compete with Trump in the remaining states and could manage to pull off an upset for the nomination.
Ted Cruz ended Tuesday’s voting with a sizeable patchwork of 396 total delegates. He had amassed a popular vote total from all of the contests held of nearly 5,500,000 votes. Not Trump levels but impressive all the same.
As for John Kasich, who remains the last challenger to Trump and Cruz standing, a win in his home state of Ohio provided new political life. But even after carrying the winner-take-all Ohio primary where he was running as a popular sitting governor, Kasich had earned only 138 delegates in total and had only his home turf to claim as a victory.
There are two other “candidates” in the race for the GOP nomination, even though they are not officially on the ballot.
One of those “candidates” is the GOP’s longstanding establishment which was, in the eyes of just about everyone, eliminated from this year’s grab for power Tuesday evening. In Florida, where their Super PACs ran endless attacks against Trump, literally leaving no room for local car dealerships, “injury attorneys” or merchants to run their usual retinue of ads, the message fell flat.
Another “undeclared candidate,” a cadre of conservative activists and donors, remained in the background, determined to stop Mr. Trump by any means possible to allow “a real conservative” to be the Republican nominee. Whether their effort will prevail is questionable. But their only realistic path in stopping Mr. Trump would be to align with Ted Cruz and quickly.
The alternative of a brokered convention appears to be, in the words of Newt Gingrich, “childish nonsense.”
The more obvious approach is for these anti-Trump forces to embrace Ted Cruz. While not beloved in the circles of D.C. power, Cruz could be their one and only conservative purist. The problem there is that Ted Cruz has as much disdain for most of these would-be power brokers as does Trump.
But like Trump, Cruz also knows the art of the deal, at least the political deal. Don’t be shocked if he starts making those deals in the coming days.
But stop Trump, the reinvigorated Kasich would likely have to leave the scene immediately. A three man race going in upcoming contests in states like Arizona, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania leaves little political oxygen for Cruz and Kasich if both remain in the political room with Trump.
It still remains likely that Donald Trump wins the GOP nomination. But any chance to change that requires an immediate recognition that this is now a Trump-Cruz contest. Any effort to “go rogue” by conservative leaders or an establishment in tatters, would guarantee a Trump nomination or GOP destruction.
As for Hillary Clinton, her path to the nomination is clear and likely. Her Florida victory was even more impressive than that of Donald Trump. She can now focus on the on-going battle for the GOP nomination and prepare for a showdown for the presidency next November.