By Matthew Rusling
Brash U.S. billionaire Donald Trump, who looks strong as five states held Republican primaries on Tuesday, is expected to inch ever closer to clinching the party’s presidential nomination.
Trump is just coming off a primary victory in the state of New York, which put him back on track to have a real shot at grabbing the Republican nomination.
The big win came after rival Senator Ted Cruz had won several states and caused some pundits and political prognosticators to question whether the Trump steamroller might be fizzling out.
On Tuesday, primaries are held in the states of Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut and Maryland. Experts said that Trump has a good chance of winning a significant number of delegates there.
Trump, the Republican front-runner, has so far won 845 delegates in the previous primaries, but he needs to win 1,237 delegates to clinch the Republican Party’s nomination for a presidential run.
In an attempt to deny Trump’s nomination so to enable a contested Republican national convention to select a nominee in July, Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich have recently formed an alliance under which Kasich will clear a path for Cruz in May 3 Indiana primary, while the latter will back down in Oregon and New Mexico.
But Trump is in good shape for this week’s primaries, Brookings Institution’s senior fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.
“He has a substantial margin in Pennsylvania, the state having the largest number of delegates, and is favored in most of the other states,” West said of the crucial state where 71 seats were up for grabs.
“If he does well this week, it is going to be difficult for party leaders to deny him the nomination,” West said.
Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, echoed those thoughts, arguing that Trump will do well this week.
“This is the part of the country where there will be much less support for Ted Cruz,” Zelizer told Xinhua.
Indeed, Cruz has done well in states with a large evangelical bloc, as Cruz’s father is a Christian pastor and Cruz speaks the language of evangelicals.
Moreover, Cruz does well in states with large populations of social conservatives – which often overlap with evangelicals – who are attracted to the candidate who holds many conservative values.
The states under contest this week don’t boast particularly large blocs of evangelicals or conservatives, which bodes ill for Cruz but looks promising for Trump.
Speaking about the next round of primaries next week, West said Cruz has to win Indiana next week to stay competitive.
“That is a state where he and Trump are running very close. Cruz needs Indiana to keep Trump from getting a majority of the delegates prior to the convention,” West said.
“Trump victories in Indiana and California would come close to putting Trump over the top,” he added.
Zelizer said the best opportunity that Cruz has in Pennsylvania is to convince the more than 50 delegates there that he has a better chance in the general election than Trump, and that he is more likely to beat likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the race to the White House.
West said the states where Trump has been doing the best include the South, Northeast, mid-Atlantic states, and the Far West.
“Trump has done well with more moderate voters and those who classify themselves as political independents. Those individuals like Trump’s tough talk on the political system and claims that the system has been rigged,” he said. Enditem