Donald Trump dominated another group of Republican presidential primary contests today, further shrinking any chance that his rivals can force a brokered nominating convention, much less beat him outright.
Trump won tonight the two biggest contests where his rivals were expected to do well: Mississippi, where Texas senator Ted Cruz had aimed his campaign squarely at southern evangelicals, and in Michigan, where the governor of nearby Ohio, John Kasich, expected his earnest spin on conservatism to find an eager audience.
Still, tonight’s results will have Cruz’s campaign calling on the other candidates to unite behind him. His Mormon-fueled win in Idaho and second-place finish ahead of Kasich in Michigan give credence his argument, even as his fellow Republican politicians look upon him with distaste.
Meanwhile, Florida senator Marco Rubio’s campaign appears to be barely clinging to life, tottering on edge of earning the support from 15% of the electorate he needs to earn delegates, and acting more as a spoiler than a contender.
These three amigos have all sworn to remain in the race through March 15, when Florida, Illinois and Ohio vote. All three are winner-take-all states where wins by Trump could secure his nomination.
Rubio and Kasich both intend to stay in and win their home states, despite polls that suggest they may have difficulty doing so. But if they divide the vote through another series of contests, Trump could be well positioned to earn the delegates he needs to take a majority into Cleveland’s party convention.
The options for the anti-Trumps are few. Unless the rivals unite behind and anti-Trump champion, or if Rubio and Kasich agree not to compete in each other’s home states, it’s hard to see this ending with anything other than Trump the nominee.