The Republican race for the White House is tightening ahead of pivotal clashes next week in Florida and Ohio.
Donald Trump remains the front-runner and is poised for a good night on Tuesday, with polls showing him favored to win three of the four GOP contests on tap, in Michigan, Mississippi and Idaho.
Trump has seen his leads narrow over rivals in Michigan, Ohio and Florida, however, making it clear the race for the GOP nomination isn’t over after a weekend in which Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) gained on Trump in total delegates.
Trump maintains a lead of nearly 100 delegates over Cruz but has been the target of millions of dollars in attack ads amid an accelerating last-ditch campaign by the Republican donor class to destroy him before he can win Ohio and Florida.
Those sharpening attacks, coupled with a trend of late-deciding voters breaking against the billionaire — late-deciders in Louisiana over the weekend almost handed Cruz an upset victory — suggests Trump’s path to the nomination is narrower than it once was.
“I think Trump is hitting a little bit of a speed bump,” Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said in a telephone interview with The Hill on Monday.
“It’s not devastating, and it can be fixed, but he’s got to go out there and put up some W’s in Florida, Michigan and Ohio.”
“He’s losing steam, but he’s still the person who as of today is most likely to go to Cleveland with the most delegates” but not necessarily 1,237, added O’Connell, who worked on John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign but remains neutral in the current race.