Well, at least that part’s over. Last night, Ted Cruz announced that he was suspending his campaign in the wake of losing Indiana to Donald Trump.
So it looks like Trump can now glide into the Republican convention as the de facto nominee. It remains to be seen if the convention will be contested, but early indications suggest the contested convention saber rattling was just that. Saber rattling.
But what does that now mean for Trump? I am sure there will be enumerable pundits talking about what he has to do to win the general election. I have no doubt they will say that, since he has all but alienated women and minorities, he will have to focus on the white male vote. Yes, I know it’s a voting bloc but talk like that is taking quite a few steps back.
The road ahead for Trump.
Trump is seen by many as a Washington outsider; a successful businessman who could take his business acumen to, as he puts it, “make America great again.” This is one of his (many) problems. Trump’s brand of making America great again, is a winner for a Republican primary. In many ways, it really hits to the core of the hardcore Republican primary voter. But does it really speak to the core of the general election voter? Registered Republicans account for approximately 25% of the electorate (May 6-10 2016 Gallup). In short, Trump has a major brand problem.
While making America great again may be viewed as highly emotive and important for some, for others it is like fixing a problem that does not exist (see North Carolina’s HB2). For the vast majority of Americans, there are a whole host of things that are more immediate and emotive than that – healthcare and the economy, a general dissatisfaction with the government and unemployment. Sure you could draw dotted lines between those issues and the Trump brand. But for many, it’s not about making America great again. It’s about “what are you going to do for me?”
It will be interesting to see how Trump pivots to make his brand more mainstream. I think he has already left such a bad taste in people’s mouths, including many Republicans, that a high number of voters are just going to sit this one out.