Donald Trump appeared to be off the pace to win the Republican nomination and in danger of having it stolen away from him at a contested Republican National Convention after a series of losses last month, but a new series of polls show that the real estate mogul may be back in charge.
Trump has led the race for the Republican nomination since its outset, but the movement to stop him building steam within conservative circles appears to be setting up a convention in which Ted Cruz may instead end up as the nominee. Cruz has outhustled Trump for delegates at the Colorado convention and has been arranging for delegates at the convention who would go with him on a second vote if Trump fails to reach the 1,237 threshold to win the nomination outright.
But now polls compiled by Real Clear Politics show that Donald Trump may reach that point after all. He started with a resounding victory in Tuesday’s New York primary, where it appears Trump will take 90 of the state’s 95 delegates. Trump now has large leads in Pennsylvania, where a Franklin & Marshall poll puts him up 14 points, and in Connecticut, where a Quinnipiac poll has him up 20 points.
Amid the wins and the rising poll numbers, Donald Trump has also started putting the pressure on the Republican Party and his remaining rivals, who are both mathematically eliminated from reaching the 1,237 threshold themselves.
“We don’t have much of a race anymore,” Trump said in his victory speech at Trump Tower on Tuesday (via CNN). “We’re going to go into the convention I think as the winner.”
Trump went on to call the delegate system “rigged” and “crooked,” saying it is “designed so that the bosses can pick whoever they want.”
The Trump campaign is also projecting its strength to this point. In a memo sent to surrogates after Tuesday’s victory in New York, the campaign advised them to emphasize his big wins and the Republican efforts to stop him.
The Washington Post commented on Trump’s message to his surrogates.
“The projections come in a memo distributed to Trump surrogates late Tuesday night containing talking points for use in media interviews this week. The memo, obtained by The Washington Post, describes Trump’s commanding win in the New York primary as “YUGE” and encourages his supporters to speak out about what Trump has described as a “rigged” process of selecting delegates to the Republican National Convention in July.”
At the same time, Trump has been expressing confidence in his ability to avoid a contested convention altogether. His senior advisor, Barry Bennett, told CNN that Trump is on pace to reach the threshold by June. That was the same prediction that FiveThirtyEight senior political writer Harry Enten made back in March.
“My biggest takeaway is how on the knife’s edge this is going to be,” he wrote at the time. “We probably won’t know whether Trump is going to clear the 1,237 threshold until at least June.”
While polls show Donald Trump doing well in states along the Eastern seaboard, he still faces bigger challenges west of the Mississippi River. Ted Cruz has managed to defeat Trump in several western states, and upcoming states like Montana and Oregon could present a stumbling block for Trump.
But if Donald Trump continues to win, and Ted Cruz falls further out of view, the polls could start to turn more dramatically in Trump’s favor as they often do when one nominee has all but wrapped up the nomination.
[Picture by Scott Olson/Getty Images]