Maybe it's too early to panic
To some extent. it refutes the pessimism of my last post on the race. There are some convincing statistics here on the difficulty Trump will have in achieving a majority of convention delegates before April at least- and maybe even afterward. It's certainly the case that many commentators are missing the point that Trump is getting only about a third of the vote in the primaries and caucuses, but needs one more than half of the delegates to be nominated at Cleveland,
That's possible but difficult. Several states do have "winner take all" primaries. But the next of those are Marco Rubio's home state of Florida and John Kasich's home state of Ohio on March 15 (Missouri's, also on March 15, is "winner take all" only if a candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, which no one will this year).
Well, yes. Ok. The North Mariana Islands Caucuses on March 15 are also 'winner take all," but winning them won't get Trump much closer to that majority since the North Marianans only have nine delegates to award.
Cruz's Texas holds its primary on March 1. Trump is not going to run the table in March, and it will be a while before winning "winner take all" primaries is going to help him translate a third of the votes into a majority of the delegates.
But what happens if Trump wins Florida, or Ohio, or Texas? Obviously the favorite son of that state- Rubio, Kasich, or Cruz- would be badly hurt. But another intriguing possibility arises from that (unlikely) event.
If Kasich loses Ohio- or even if he doesn't do as well as he expects in Illinois and Michigan and the other larger, less conservative states- he still may do as the National Review article predicts, and stay in the race in order to be a power broker at what may be the first convention since 1952 at which the nominee is still in doubt at the opening gavel. Or realizing that there is a danger that Trump might have it wrapped up before the election, Kasich might withdraw, leaving the "sane lane" to Rubio.
And here's another, even more, intriguing possibility. As South Carolina demonstrated, Cruz isn't going to do nearly as well among Southern evangelicals- and therefore in the South as a whole- as he hoped. What if, realizing that he wasn't going to be the nominee but that Trump, with whom he has been feuding so bitterly, was probably going to be, Cruz pulled out- making the balance of the race essentially mano-a-mano between Trump and Rubio?
Here's the thing: One-on-one against any of the other candidates, Trump loses. He has done as well as he has done not because he's a strong candidate- strong candidates get better than a third of the votes- but because he's had so many opponents.
Ok, concern is appropriate at this stage. But Il Duce isn't a sure thing yet. Not by a long shot.