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OK, Republicans – Trump or Clinton?

A Commentary By Fran Coombs

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

It’s moment of truth time for the #Never Trump crowd: Do you want four years of Hillary Clinton in the White House or a Republican president you strongly disagree with?

The Bernie Sanders revolution is over. More than 90% of Democrats already see Clinton as their likely nominee, and her big wins in yesterday’s primaries are sure to push that number to near absolute certainty.

Despite Donald Trump’s encouragement to Sanders in the last couple days to run as a third-party candidate, the Vermont senator ultimately will throw his support behind Clinton in exchange for some conciliatory words on her part. The Democrats have party discipline and aren’t going to risk a schism on the left like the one in 2000 when Ralph Nader cost Al Gore the election. It’s a lesson anti-Trump Republicans should heed – unless, of course, they aren’t interested in winning.

Last week, 83% of Republicans nationwide projected that Trump is likely to be their nominee. That number also can be expected to climb after Trump’s sweep yesterday, including wins in every single county in all five states.

In early March, 18% of Republicans said they will definitely vote against Trump if he is the nominee. Rasmussen Reports is testing that question again this week and will release new numbers tomorrow morning.

There is no possible way, however, that Ted Cruz or John Kasich will reach the national Republican convention in July with the 1,237 delegates needed to claim the nomination. Cruz is hoping a win next Tuesday in Indiana will blunt Trump’s momentum, but that’s unlikely. What then?

If Trump clears the 1,237-delegate hurdle, then it’s on to the general election. But if he’s a few delegates short, the Cruz, Kasich and other anti-Trump forces hope to turn some of the delegates committed to the front-runner and produce a nominee that 1,237 of those in attendance at the convention can agree on. Really?

So delegates committed to the candidate who is generating record turnouts in primary after primary are going to transfer their support to someone else all in the name of party loyalty? Let’s not forget either that that loyalty is a one-way street since it isn’t being shown to their candidate even though he played by the rules, went through the entire debate/primary/caucus process and far outdistanced his opponents in votes and delegates.

In fact, in previous election cycles, Cruz and Kasich would have dropped out by now since they have no chance of winning. Instead of staying in the game in hopes that a chaotic convention will turn to them, they would have endorsed the front-runner and called for party unity with eyes on winning the White House in November.

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Some prominent conservatives continue to complain that Trump is not one of them. Yet yesterday’s exit polls show that the most conservative voters are choosing Trump. It appears “conservative” no longer means the same thing inside the Beltway and at National Review magazine that it does in the rest of America.

But then 46% of GOP voters now believe they are to the right of their party’s leadership. Seventy-six percent (76%) say Republicans in Congress have lost touch with the party’s voters.

Then there’s the Our Principles PAC, one of the big money Republican super political action committees that have spent nearly $25 million so far on negative Trump ads. It’s primary day mailer yesterday never mentions precisely what its principles are and who the group is, but it’s run by a Washington, D.C. consultant who was the deputy campaign manager of Mitt Romney’s failed presidential bid in 2012 with an ex-Jeb Bush campaign official as spokesman and is largely bankrolled by one person. Sizable majorities of GOP voters think wealthy individuals and special interest groups have too much power and influence over elections, so don’t these anti-Trump groups represent the principles voters in Republican primaries have been rejecting all year? Will they keep beating up on Trump, or do they find Clinton more representative of their “principles”?

Charles Koch, one of the wealthy right-wing brothers who’ve been denounced by Democrats for years for their support of GOP candidates and causes, now seems to be warming to a Clinton presidency, according to media reports. But read closer. Koch speculates that Clinton may be the best choice, although, “We would have to believe her actions would be quite different than her rhetoric.” Fat chance.

While some Republicans continue to see a Trump candidacy as the road to ruin, Democrats are more fearful and getting prepared. Clinton isn’t looking ahead to any opponent other than “The Donald,” last night repeating her mantra that “love trumps hate.” We’re sure to hear that one a lot in the days ahead, but it’s far from clear whether she has the message to trump Trump when it comes to job creation, the fairness of international trade deals, the terrorist threat and illegal immigration.

Longtime Democratic player Joe Trippi was quite clear on Fox News last night that he’s more worried about a Trump candidacy than a run by anyone else. Bill Clinton has expressed similar concerns. Cruz, who most recently has been championing North Carolina’s so-called bathroom bill aimed at transgenders, is a predictable “right-wing” GOP candidate, Trippi explained. Trump, who refuses to be drawn into the debate over the bathroom bill and other divisive social issues, is unpredictable, he says, and therefore more dangerous.

Still, it’s all up to Republicans for now: Trump or Clinton? Your call.

Fran Coombs is the managing editor of Rasmussen Reports.

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See Other Commentaries by Fran Coombs .

Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports. Comments about this content should be directed to the author at  fran.coombs@rasmussenreports.com.

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