Defying Conventional Wisdom, Trump Marches Toward GOP Nomination

Presidential candidates like Donald Trump are not supposed to win general elections, at least according to conventional wisdom. But if the last several months have demonstrated anything, it's that Donald Trump can defy conventional wisdom and get away with it.

The billionaire businessman Trump, who has never held political office, this week solidified his position as the Republican presidential frontrunner with a series of crucial wins on Super Tuesday, the primary election's single most important day of voting.

As he marches toward the Republican nomination, Trump has used a trademark formula for success, combining often extreme statements on issues of national security and immigration with an endless deluge of personal insults against his Republican rivals.

Trump himself seems to recognize the dangers of being too abrasive. On multiple occasions throughout his primary campaign, he has acknowledged he will have to change his "tone" and act "much different" if he were about to become president.

Other analysts, such as Republican strategist Ford O'Connell, are more optimistic. "I do think that when he moves to the general election, he is going to change his tone and rhetoric," O'Connell says.

Read more from William Gallo at Voice of America

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Donald Trump Voter Turnout: Is GOP Candidate Outpacing Romney In 2012 Following Super Tuesday Surge?

Donald Trump will tell anyone with ears that he's inspiring Americans everywhere, drawing record crowds and voter turnouts, and that the wave will keep on rolling through victory in November. Following a slew of Super Tuesday wins, the undisputed front-runner boasted in a news conference at a Florida resort he owns: "I will say this, look: We have expanded the Republican Party," before adding, "Look, I’m a unifier."

Trump has previously proclaimed that he'll square off with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in the general election and it will draw "the greatest turnout in history." But for all his typical bluster, there is some truth to Trump's claims. 

Trump has recorded more total votes through Super Tuesday than former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney did on his way to the nomination in 2012, despite Romney having the benefit of seven additional states voting through Super Tuesday that year. And when comparing the states that have already voted in the 2016 GOP primaries and caucuses with the corresponding 2012 results, the gap between Trump and Romney widens considerably. Further anecdotal evidence and polls also suggest that Trump could be pulling in voters not typically aligned with the Republican Party. While it's still a long way until November, through Super Tuesday, Trump's signature brand of braggadocio seems to have inspired thousands to get out and vote for him, which can only be a good sign for his chances in a general election. 

Trump is "bringing in some people," said Ford O’Connell, a political analyst and Republican strategist who worked on the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign. "He is cobbling together a group of people we haven't seen in some time." 

Read more from Tim Marcin at International Business Times

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The GOP Presidential Campaign Is One Only Don Rickles Could Love

The biggest casualty of the bloody 2016 Republican presidential campaign may be what Ronald Reaganalways called the Eleventh Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.’’

Candidates who agree on little besides Reagan’s political divinity have broken his admonition routinely, enthusiastically and creatively. “They’re flat-out shredding it!’’ says Ford O’Connell, a GOP consultant and author of Hail Mary: A 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery.

At the last debate before the New Hampshire primary — on Reagan’s 105th birthday, a fact participants reverently noted — the candidates applied the words “lie,’’ “liar” or “lying’’ to each other about two dozen times.

Things have gone downhill from there, with the next GOP debate on Thursday in Detroit.

Read more from Rick Hampson at USA Today

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March 15 Could Narrow US Republican Field

March 1 was Super Tuesday in the campaign for the U.S. presidency, but March 15 is shaping up to be a key date in determining the nature of the Republican race.

Businessman Donald Trump, leading in national polls for months, has used that support to win the most state primaries and caucuses so far. But while the once-massive Republican field has dwindled to five candidates, there have been calls for Republicans to unite behind a single opponent who can earn enough delegates to prevent a Trump nomination.

As of March 15, candidates can start earning all of a state's delegates with a win rather than just a portion based on their percentage of the vote. It's also when two key states – Florida and Ohio – have winner-take-all primaries.

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said it would take two more weeks for the decisions on who stays in the race and for how long.

"I think that determination will be made on the 15th whether they're going to have a two-man race or pack it all in for a stretch run to the convention," O’Connell said.

Read more from Chris Hannas at Voice of America

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Super Tuesday: Trump Victory Highlights GOP's Identity Crisis

The Republican Party stands on the edge of a precipice, a Grand Old Party unsure of its identity and its future.

The immediate instigator of the party’s crisis is Donald Trump, whose strong performance on Super Tuesday sets him on a firm path toward the Republican presidential nomination. Hillary Clinton’s equally strong performance on the Democratic side all but locks in her own nomination.

But while Mrs. Clinton’s victories on Tuesday mean that the Democratic establishment is likely to get its choice of nominee, for Republican leaders, the Trump juggernaut effectively represents a hostile takeover of their party. And it's voters – many of them longtime Republicans, others new to politics – who are spurring the change, as they hear Mr. Trump’s message and jump aboard.

“The modern GOP is literally changing before our eyes, whether or not we choose to see it,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.

The party’s conservative message on social issues, particularly its hostility to same-sex marriage, is falling out of favor, he notes. Views on health care are all over the map. And neoconservative foreign policy – the idea of the US as the world’s “policeman” – faces growing public resistance.

“Trump knows this and is leveraging it to his advantage,” Mr. O’Connell says.

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor

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Building Blue-Collar Appeal

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is winning support from blue-collar workers, raising the possibility that he could steal some union votes away from Democrats in the general election.

Trump’s anti-free trade and border security arguments, coupled with his aggression toward China and other trading partners, are music to the ears of workers who believe globalization policies backed by both parties have shipped U.S. jobs overseas.

No Republican has won the union vote since Richard Nixon in 1972 — though Ronald Reagan twice came close — and if Trump secures the GOP nomination, he’s unlikely to receive the backing of the nation’s top labor leaders.

Still, some political strategists believe Trump could win over a significant portion of rank-and-file union members.

“He could do very well with union members — better than Republicans have done in a long time,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.

“That would be a real concern for Hillary Clinton, if he is able to grab even just an additional 2 or 3 percent of union households,” O’Connell said. “That could be the difference in Ohio.”

Read more from Tim Devaney at The Hill

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Clinton, Trump Win Big on Super Tuesday

Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump have strengthened their grips on their parties' presidential nominations, racking up wins in key states on Super Tuesday, the primary season's most important day of voting.

On the Republican side, Trump took Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont and Massachusetts. Senator Ted Cruz took his home state of Texas as well as Oklahoma and Alaska. Florida Senator Marco Rubio picked up his first win of the primary season in Minnesota.

The results were not surprising. Opinion polls had showed Trump and Clinton with large leads in Super Tuesday states and nationally. In their victory speeches, each candidate focused on the other, rather than their primary opponents.

Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist, said Trump came out on top on the Republican side, and is now the "clear prohibitive frontrunner."

"Donald Trump won big tonight," O'Connell told VOA, adding that the billionaire businessman may actually benefit from losing several contests to his rivals. "His greatest ally is a divided GOP field, so all around it's nearly perfect night for Trump," he said.

Read more from William Gallo at Voice of America

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Super Tuesday 2016: Will GOP Establishment Endorse Donald Trump After Vote?

With Super Tuesday returns coming in, Republican leaders are doing the same thing as everyone else — waiting to see if, or more likely, how thoroughly, businessman Donald Trump trounces the rest of the GOP field. And for those elected officials waiting to decide their endorsements, Tuesday's results could provide valuable data to help calculate if any path forward remains for the so-called establishment to stop Trump from winning the nomination.

Endorsements have typically been a reliable predictor for nominations, under the assumption that politicians want to go with a winner and help steer a candidate to the top. This year, however, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is leading in endorsements from fellow officeholders, but has yet to win a single state.

How Super Tuesday shakes out could shift the converstation, political analysts said. And in a race where endorsements have lacked clout so far, Trump — a brash outsider who has only recently gained some backers after being scorned or at best tolerated by the party — could be the sole candidate to pick up undecided Republican leaders. 

"The more Trump wins, psychologically, the easier it is to bring him into this tent," said Ford O’Connell, a political analyst and Republican strategist who worked on the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign. 

"It really depends on what happens today," O'Connell said. "Nothing in this cycle has gone according to script."

Read more from Tim Marchin at International Business Times

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Rubio Needs A Win To Secure Bush Donors

Donations continue to flow in for presidential hopefuls as they head into Super Tuesday, the single most important presidential contest in the 2016 election. For Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s campaign it’s a moment to seize on “Marcomentum” and win key primary states on Tuesday with 595 delegates up for grabs in the GOP race.

“If you win a state on Super Tuesday there is a possibility that you will win Florida, if Marco wins Florida then he is still in the game,” said Ford O’Connell, Republican strategist and former advisor for the 2008 McCain-Palin campaign.

He says a lot is riding on Rubio’s candidacy for the Republican party now that establishment candidate, Jeb Bush is out of the race.

“A lot of the Bush supporters have realized that Rubio gives them the best chance to win, in terms of beating Trump in a one on one. I believe if Rubio puts up a ‘W’ and certainly holds on to Florida, then you will see a whole bunch of people supporting him,” said O’Connell.

Read more from Elizabeth Chmurak at Fox Business

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Candidates Gear Up For Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday is likely to live up to its billing for Donald Trump.

The first day of multiple-state voting looms large in a wild presidential race after early states trimmed the field and the brash billionaire and his army of outsider voters are positioned to send panic through the Republican establishment by tightening his grip on the party's nomination.

A CNN/ORC national poll out Monday shows Donald Trump in a dominant lead, getting 49% of the Republican primary vote -- 30 percentage points ahead of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. On the Democratic side, Clinton tops Sanders 55% to 38%.

The contests, across 12 states, herald several weeks of nationwide skirmishes that will be decisive in determining who gets to face off for the White House in the fall.

Republican leaders and operatives, meanwhile, are wondering whether the blitz against Trump by Rubio at CNN's debate in Houston on Thursday came too late to halt the billionaire businessman.

"I am not sure throwing the whole kitchen sink is going to make much difference in the trajectory of the race," said Ford O'Connell, a GOP strategist not currently working for any presidential candidate. "Political scientists are going to wonder for years why they didn't go after him a lot earlier."

Read more from Stephen Collinson at CNN

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