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Expert Comment: Trump’s path to the Republican nomination

voting Thursday 5 May 2016

US Politics expert Dr Rob Busby discusses Donald Trump’s path to the Republican nomination and what this means for the future of the party.

Trump’s path to the Republican nomination now seems to be a clear route to the convention in Cleveland.

Following the suspension of his campaign by Kasich, the remaining primary races are relatively simple for Trump and he can now avoid a dreaded brokered convention. In part the success of Trump at this point theoretically opens up new and perhaps favourable opportunities for the Republican Party.

The overt infighting will diminish, the convention may well be more streamlined, Trump can focus on attacking Hillary and make a more informed choice for a Vice-President running mate. In a normal race the intra-party fighting would now be quelled by party leaders and dissenting voices marginalised.

However, this will not be the case. Conservative voices have openly expressed doubts about Trump across a range of political concerns. He has no experience of political leadership, and forging links with the Congress, with his own party far less with agitated Democrats, would be particularly difficult.

Conservative intellectuals doubt his credentials as a true conservative – witness Romney’s scathing attack. In stark contrast to the simplistic labelling that Trump has received in Britain, Trump is far from the right-wing extremist candidate he is made out to be, for many Republicans is just not conservative enough, and is overly tolerant on social conservative issues.

As a former Democrat his conversion to the Republican cause is simply too much for long-term Republicans to take. Much of the mainstream media is overtly hostile to Trump and, following Indiana, have announced the death of the Republican Party, a radical declaration for the party of Reagan and Lincoln. Negative headlines follow negative headlines.

For all that Trump has defied the odds at every stage of the campaign.

He has had terrible favourability ratings. asserted at the start of the race in 2015 that he had the worst ratings of 106 presidential candidates it had examined since 1980.  Yet he has demolished established political figures using a small budget, popular anger, newsworthy policies and a huge amount of self-belief. His use of twitter, online political rallies and a celebrity status have given a new framework to the contemporary campaign.

He should be defeated heavily by Hillary in November, but he should have been defeated by Bush and Rubio and Christie and Cruz and Kasich….

Department of History and Politics 

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