Politico’s Shane Goldmacher writes that Donald Trump’s dominance in “the 2016 primary will define the GOP for years to come.”
After winning three of the first four nominating contests, Donald Trump hasn’t just hijacked the Republican Party but fractured it newly into three.
The populist billionaire’s rise to the pinnacle of Republican politics has upended what had been decades of relative GOP stability, a 40-year span in which most Republican presidential contests since 1976 neatly narrowed to an establishment-embraced front-runner and a conservative insurgent alternative.
Suddenly, there are three strands of the Republicanism, each entrenched and vying for supremacy in 2016. Ted Cruz is the leader of the traditional conservative purists. Marco Rubio is emerging from the mud of a multi-candidate brawl to lead the once-dominant, now diminished, mainstream lane of the GOP.
But it is Trump’s new alliance of angry populists that is ascendant — and on the precipice of dominance.
Built on the backs of working-class men and women who feel abandoned, economically and culturally, Trump’s coalition has both brought in new voters and carved out support from the other two. Trump won over evangelicals from Cruz in South Carolina, and even more resoundingly again in Nevada. He then took moderates from the mainstream in New Hampshire and Nevada en route to landslide victories in three consecutive states.
“What Trump is consolidating is the people who are unhappy being in either camp — those who don’t see themselves as conservative insurgents or as mainstream Republicans,” said Yuval Levin, an influential Republican thinker and editor of the quarterly conservative journal, National Affairs. “They’re insurgents but they’re not conservatives. And they’re not happy with the system that gave us that binary choice.”
“It’s kind of Archie Bunker types,” said Glen Bolger, a veteran Republican pollster who is unaligned in 2016 but opposed to Trump.
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