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Analysis and perspective about what's happening in the political realm.

Florida and Ohio Primaries Critical in the 'Stop Trump' Movement

In this screw­ball year, it’s dan­ger­ous to say any­thing defin­it­ively, but it sure looks like Tues­day’s Ohio Re­pub­lic­an primary will be the make-or-break point for the “Stop Trump” move­ment. This is as­sum­ing that Don­ald Trump beats Marco Ru­bio in Flor­ida, which seems a bit more likely than not. Then it comes down to Ohio, where John Kasich has been hold­ing a mod­est lead in the polls. 

If Kasich holds Ohio, which is his home state, the del­eg­ate climb for Trump gets very steep. Trump has won 44 per­cent of all del­eg­ates se­lec­ted so far. Ima­gine a straight, di­ag­on­al line from zero del­eg­ates in the bot­tom left corner at the be­gin­ning of the race, up to the num­ber 1,237 in the up­per right corner, the barest ma­jor­ity that se­cures a nom­in­a­tion. Every week, take a look and see if Trump is above or be­low that tra­ject­ory to the ma­gic num­ber. A...

The Odds of a Contested Convention Have Never Been Higher

Don­ald Trump’s not-so-ma­gic num­ber in the Re­pub­lic­an primar­ies is 34 per­cent. That’s the av­er­age share of the vote Trump has re­ceived in the first 19 con­tests. He won one-third of the vote in the four early races, 34 per­cent on Su­per Tues­day, and a dis­ap­point­ing 33 per­cent av­er­age in the smal­ler-state races held this week­end. At a time when can­did­ates usu­ally in­crease their sup­port, Trump’s is stun­ted.

This has been the story of the Re­pub­lic­an race: Trump, with the help of end­less news-me­dia cov­er­age, was able to con­sol­id­ate and lock down his blue-col­lar base quick­er than his rivals, who spent months fight­ing among them­selves. Only now are Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ates and out­side groups train­ing their fire at Trump, and it’s clearly pay­ing off.

The biggest be­ne­fi­ciary of the Trump ceil­ing is Ted Cruz, who is the second choice of many Trump sup...

How Donald Trump Can Beat Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s Super Tuesdays put them on a collision course this fall. Betting markets make Clinton the strong favorite, given Trump’s high unfavorables, his incendiary comments about minorities, and the fact that members of his own party seem eager to disavow him. But Trump’s strengths and grand strategy make him considerably more dangerous in a general election than people seem to think.

There are two pieces of conventional wisdom about Donald Trump that don't fit comfortably together. On the one hand, people seem to think Trump’s appeal transcends the issues and that he doesn’t really care about policy. On the other hand, he’s considered unelectable because of his policies, like building a Mexican wall and banning Muslim immigrants.

But here’s the problem: If Trump doesn’t care about policy and his appeal truly transcends issues, what’s stopping him from becoming a starkly different person in the general election, the same way he's morphed, with convenient timing, from a moderate businessman—supportive of Canadian health care, a friend of Democrats, an admirer of Hillary Clinton—to a nationalist demagogue?

Trump’s most famous skill is self-promotion through bloviation...

Donald Trump Tries to Divide and Conquer the Republican Establishment

For months, Republicans hoped, prayed, and convinced themselves that this day would never come: the day they had to take an actual, honest-to-God stance on Donald Trump’s candidacy.

Now, with Trump looking more and more like the GOP nominee, high-profile Republicans are starting to take stands, and some of them have decided to swallow their pride and endorse Trump. The first, of course, was Chris Christie, whose backing of Trump reverberated widely on Friday. Friday afternoon, Maine Governor Paul LePage, a former Christie endorser, followed the New Jersey governor’s lead. 

On Sunday, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions backed Trump, too, ahead of the Yellowhammer State’s Super Tuesday primary. A Sessions-Trump alliance makes sense in many ways. Sessions is one of the hardest line members of the Senate on immigration, which is Trump’s signature issue, and an endorsement had been the subject of speculation since top Sessions aide Stephen Miller joined the Trump campaign a month ago. It’s also a blow to Ted Cruz, who has allied himself withSessions in the Senate—one of the few colleagues he has a decent relationship with.

On the other hand, conservative Twitter lit up over the weekend with the...

The Shape of the Republican Race

After his solid, broadly based victories in New Hampshire and South Carolina, Donald Trump now holds a commanding position in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

But Trump still faces two “known unknowns,” to borrow the memorable phrase from former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, an architect of the Iraq War that Trump now excoriates. One is whether Trump has a ceiling of support. The second is whether, even if he does, any of his remaining rivals can unify enough of the voters resistant to him to beat him.

So far the evidence suggests the answers are: maybe, and not yet. Indeed over the first three contests, Trump’s two principal remaining opponents have shown mirror-image weaknesses. Texas Senator Ted Cruz has assembled a coalition of support that is too narrow; Florida Senator Marco Rubio is building a coalition that is too shallow.

As in his New Hampshire win earlier this month, Trump’s support in South Carolina transcended many of the usual fissures in Republican politics, according to exit poll results posted by CNN. The one big exception remained education: In each of the first three contests, including the Iowa caucus, Trump has not run as well among voters...