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The Stop Trump Movement Got New Life In Ohio

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 16/03/2016 Ryan Grim

Donald Trump continued to beat the GOP field on Tuesday night, winning contests in Florida, North Carolina and Illinois, but dropping Ohio to John Kasich and struggling against Ted Cruz in Missouri.

The loss in Ohio makes it extraordinarily difficult -- he will need some 60 percent of the delegates left -- for Trump to get the 1,237 delegates he needs to lock up the nomination without a floor fight in Cleveland, which will host the Republican Convention in July. And that makes stopping Trump all the more doable.

A handful of states, including the delegate rich New Jersey, have winner-take-all primaries, and others, like New York, award most of their delegates to the winner, will help get Trump where he needs to be, but it will still be a tall order after Ohio.

If Trump has the nomination wrested from him, it will not because he lacks support, but rather that he has engendered too much opposition. He has virtually swept the South, won every state in the Midwest save for Ohio, where he was beaten by the popular governor, and even ran away with Massachusetts and New Hampshire. If he ultimately loses, it will be because enough Republicans came to believe that Trump had gone beyond the pale of American politics -- or, perhaps more pragmatically, that he couldn't win a general election.

Earlier Tuesday, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican with a fine-tuned political antennae, told reporters in the Capitol -- unprompted -- that he had just spoken with the GOP frontrunner. "Donald Trump called this morning, and we had a good conversation," McConnell said. "I took the opportunity to recommend to him that no matter who may be triggering these violent expressions or conflict that we've seen at some of these rallies, it might be a good idea to condemn that and discourage it, no matter what the source of it is."

The source is not a mystery. At a November rally, Trump said of a black protester who'd been beaten, "Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing."

In February, he told his supporters at a rally , "If you see somebody who's getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of him, would you?"

"Seriously," he added, "I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise."

If you see somebody who's getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of him, would you? Donald Trump

Later that month, at another rally, Trump talked about a protester being taken out "on a stretcher," and said, "I'd like to punch him in the face.

Just this month, as a protester was being taken out, he said, "Try not to hurt him. If you do, I'll defend you in court, don't worry." He has since floated the idea of paying the legal fees of a man arrested for sucker punching a black man at a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. On Tuesday night, he easily won the state, and his supporter have only rallied to him in the wake of the violence.

Stopping Trump in Ohio has been an essential part of the GOP’s effort to block him from the nomination. But there are no good options ahead for Republicans, as underscored by Tuesday's exit surveys.

A slim majority said they would be satisfied with Trump as the GOP nominee, while four in ten said they'd give serious thought to a third party candidate if Trump were carrying the Republican banner.  A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that Cruz (and even Rubio) would win against Trump if the primary narrowed down to the two of them.

"The only person I know I'm not going to vote for is Hillary Clinton. Call me after our convention, and I may add to that list," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters on Tuesday, condemning his own party for allowing Trump to get this far. "Our party leadership's been light on Trump. Now everybody's up in their game? Is it too little, too late? I don't know."

Princeton professor Sam Wang calculated the effect on the race of Trump winning or losing Ohio and the results show that if everyone else stays in the race Trump fares better, paradoxically, with an Ohio loss. But even under that unlikely scenario, he still winds up short of the majority he'd need.

If Kasich and Rubio both dropped out --Rubio officially dropped out Tuesday night--and Trump was left to compete against just Cruz, Wang calculates that Trump would only amass 1013 delegates. Cruz would win more states by solidifying the anti-Trump vote, and with winner-take-all rules becoming more common from now on, that would deny Trump the delegates he needs to get close to winning the nomination.

While Trump on his own might not win enough delegates to secure the nomination, an intriguing possibility is unfolding: Cruz, who is reviled among the establishment, and Kasich together could be able to collectively beat Trump, setting up a Kasich-Cruz, or Cruz-Kasich, ticket.


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