Donald Trump still leads in the polls for some important states, but his campaign is starting to show signs of weakness for the first time since he charged to the front of the pack this summer.
The vulnerability was on display in Saturday’s voting contests, where he lost to Ted Cruz in Maine and Kansas, giving other candidates hope that Trump could have his lead chipped into. Trump was still the overall winner of the day, but Cruz’s wins could be a sign of difficulties to come, CNN reported.
“Cruz’s two victories over Trump Saturday came as Republicans turned up the heat on the real estate mogul this week,” the report noted. “On Thursday, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney delivered a blistering speech in Utah decrying Trump’s campaign, and a number of high-profile members of the national security community expressed concern about his lack of understanding of foreign affairs. The outcome could encourage them to keep searching for vulnerabilities to exploit.”
Ted Cruz seemed to make that point, saying after his victory in Kansas that Trump’s lead in the race could be coming to an end.
“What we are seeing in Kansas is a manifestation of a real shift in momentum,” he said in his speech to supporters.
Both Cruz and Trump have called on others to step out of the race, with both appearing to clear way for what would be a one-on-one matchup. It is not clear who that would favor, as Trump would likely gain many voters from Marco Rubio or John Kasich, but Cruz could win over the “anyone but Trump” voters.
Political experts noted that Donald Trump continues to struggle in caucus states, where voting is limited only to registered Republicans and where a strong ground game is required to get voters to the caucus sites. Both Kansas and Maine were caucuses, and Trump won only narrowly in Kansas.
Saturday’s races could also help make the case that Ted Cruz — and Ted Cruz alone — should be the one taking on Donald Trump. To this point the crowded field has played into Trump’s favor as the others have split the vote.
“Saturday night’s showing helped buttress Mr Cruz’s argument that he is the party’s best hope to challenge Mr Trump, as Marco Rubio and John Kasich continue to lag far behind,” noted BBC analyst Anthony Zurcher. “If the Texas senator is to catch the New York billionaire, however, loyal Republican Party voters, particularly in Florida, will have to rally behind him in even greater numbers. It’s a tall task — but not an impossible one, if the once-popular Mr Rubio continues to hemorrhage support.”
After the difficult week and a disappointing performance on Saturday, Donald Trump may be losing ground elsewhere. After once holding solid, double-digit leads in polls in Florida, Donald Trump is rapidly losing ground to Marco Rubio, who has sunk considerable resources into his home state. A new poll from the Tarrance Group showed that Marco Rubio is now behind just five points.
This could be a key moment in Trump’s campaign. To this point, the attacks from other candidates and opposition from within the Republican Party have not affected Donald Trump in the polls, and how he responds to the first signs of weakness could show whether his candidacy can withstand the heat or if all the forces aligned against his campaign can succeed in knocking Trump out of the race.
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