Bill Collier- The media and others are convinced: Trump is unstoppable. But is this really the case given how we’ve seen unreliable polling and how things have twisted and changed so rapidly?
The key state is, or may be, California.
California ballots are mailed in two weeks. 80% of CA voters choose by mail. Therefore in a very real sense the CA primary, which is an open primary, begins in two weeks.
Kasich is relying on getting Democrats in LA and San Fransisco to vote for him, Trump is trying to get dems and independents to cross over and support hm, Cruz is focused on districts that are very conservative.
Who has the ground game in CA and how do you get people to vote, considering 80% vote from home via the mail? Rallies, media, and internet ads are going to matter more than normal on the ground GOTV efforts. This favors Trump and Kasich but Cruz has shown himself to adroit online, just not great for rallies.
Polling may not be extremely reliable. But neither Cruz nor Kasich can win the state overall, Trump is going to get the most votes of the three, and may reach 50%…but that is iffy. This is a race on a district-by-district basis and one wonders if any of the campaigns are doing solid internal polling on such a basis. Trump has to focus on all the districts to both get his overall win and to get district delegates, while kasich and cruz, forfeiting the overall win, only have to focus on the districts they can expect to win. They are performing a blocking action whereas Trump needs a breakthrough.
Crossover votes from Democrats will be greater if Bernie Sanders drops out of the race before California because the Clinton campaign won’t need to sweat the election: but that voting begins in two weeks. The machinery that is needed to get those votes will be in high gear and cannot be easily reversed: all those ads, mailers, and phone calls are in process right now. Therefore, Kasich and Trump will have less crossover votes, but this cuts more into Kasich’s vote-getting than it does Trump’s.
Indiana may not be enough to stop Trump or to secure a win for Trump, unless he sweeps it. If Trump loses big in Indiana, he can still do so well in CA that he still gets to the right number. If Cruz loses big, he and Kasich could conceivably block Trump in so many districts in CA that he gets less than 100 of the 171 delegates. This is something they need to be spending money and resources on NOW before ballots start showing up in people’s mail in two weeks. In this latter scenario, Trump may limp into Cleveland with 1200 pledged delegates for the first round of voting.
The question then becomes a matter of the convention’s stomach for a contested process that puts someone with far fewer delegates and votes than the front-runner. The NEVERTRUMP crowd is convinced that stopping Trump from getting on the ballot is a higher priority than beating Hillary Clinton OR that anyone but Trump would be a better candidate to beat Hillary.
In the end, the nevertrump forces have an easier goal to reach, just ensure Trump doesn’t get to 1237. Trump has a harder goal- he has to get to 1237 or more. But the arc has bent in Trump’s favor and, while he has a higher mountain to climb, he is still slightly closer to his desired summit than his opponents are to theirs.
(NOTE- Credit is due Karl Rove who used the phrase “the arc has turned toward Trump” in his analysis last night, on the 26th of April, 2016.)