So last night Trump body-slammed victory out of the Indiana Primary, essentially driving Ted Cruz to suspend his campaign (i.e., drop out but keep his name on active ballots) and pretty much guaranteeing Trump wins the convention on the first ballot.*
Kasich, being late as always, suspended his campaign this afternoon. Trump is officially the last Republican candidate standing.
That screaming sound you hear in the distance is either coming from RNC headquarters or coming from 7 billion people across the planet.
Either way, it's not pretty.
The whole day has been watching the accelerated meltdown of whatever parts of the Far Right Noise Machine hadn't sold its soul to the Con Artist Supreme. The websites have been filled with reports about party leaders and pundits denouncing this dark day and declaring the party "dead." There's been several posting pictures of themselves re-registering their voter ID to drop out of the party altogether. Or even setting them on fire (uh, guys, with the voter suppression laws YOU YOURSELVES are passing, you might not wanna do that...) There are pundits coming out now arguing that the Republican Party leadership - effectively unaware and tone-deaf to their actual voting base - deserved getting the rug pulled out from underneath them. Per Rod Dreher:
Overall, though, True Conservatism™ — aggressive foreign policy, aggressive pro-corporate policy, and Christian-ish social conservatism — has been shown by Trump to have been hollow. It is interesting to contemplate what this will mean for the DC infrastructure of Conservatism, Inc. What will the activist groups do now that they are shown to be much less effective than we previously thought? Trump’s victory is not a good thing, but if it means the end of this mentality... then Trump’s victory is not the worst thing...
"...You know, I didn't, but I don't think that’s necessarily bad. You know what? I think something different and something new is probably good for our party," he replied. "And look, I don't think anyone predicted what happened. So look, we're here. We're going to get behind the presumptive nominee..."
"...As I've said before, the candidates join us. We don't join the candidates. And so our party platform is clear. The things we believe in are clear. We don't change what we believe in as a party. We have a nomination process, and someone is going to get chosen. I believe Donald Trump will ultimately get chosen, and he's going to join the party," Priebus said.
And history tells us more often than not the party members will come crawling back to support even the candidates they loathe all because their alternatives (vote Democrat? VOTE HILLARY? Ewwww...) are beyond their limits.
However, this time it's different. Previous Presidential campaigns never had a candidate so unliked before as the nominee. Trump can well be the one that truly breaks a national party apart into factions - Trump and #NeverTrump - where enough party members flee in shame/disgust/frustration to cause an impact in turnout.
Based on 2012, Mitt Romney had at least 93 percent Republican support at the ballots in November. In May of 2012, Mitt's favorability among Republicans - having already clinched by then - was at 87 percent. (His popularity among national voters made a then-high 50 percent). Right now May 2016, Trump's popularity among Republicans is only at 59 percent, nowhere near the high Romney had. And Trump's national average (dated April) is around 33 percent, nowhere near Mitt's even-50.
There's a lot of lost Republican support in there. About 28 percent difference in the GOP numbers, and 17 percent difference nationally. Can Trump win back support to match Mitt's numbers? I doubt it. There is a lot of public anger and angst right now among the Republican ranks, and that's translating into voters either running away to vote elsewhere or else not vote at all.
'Cause here's the thing: any attempt by Trump to "pivot" from the hard-core Primary campaign style where he pretty much nuked every bridge to moderate and minority voters imaginable will be ignored or mocked. Worse, he and the GOP cannot afford to suddenly drop the hard-and-heavy anti-immigrant and anti-Establishment rhetoric that fueled Trump's rise: they would lose that very base that got Trump his victory. That anti-Hispanic, anti-Muslim, anti-Chinese stance will be the foundation of that 28-point loss of support within the GOP ranks made up of those voting blocs.
That all said, right now things do not look good for Republicans. Both Hillary and Sanders poll well over Trump as an opponent, even this far out before the conventions, and there's little sign that Trump is going to turn any of the states that went for Obama in 2012 (there's more evidence that he's LOSING at least four Red states to Hillary).
This is now a general election campaign driven by one question: Will 70 million Americans put faith behind a goddamn con artist like Trump with no political experience to be the nation's next President?
The answer so far is HELL NO.
Then again, never underestimate the Democratic Party's ability to blow a sure thing. I'm with Rude Pundit: DON'T F-CK THIS UP, DEMS.
*Unless Cruz is still able to plan a delegate coup to force a second ballot, but even that looks unlikely at the moment.