Donald Trump’s resounding, poll-beating victory in the New York primary sets a clear precedent for the California primary: he is going to compete in the rural areas that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has dominated in the caucus states thus far in 2016.
In New York, Trump escaped The City — where only one in eight Republican primary voters lives, and where both Cruz and Ohio governor John Kasich made a push for delegates — and ventured upstate, to struggling areas of the New York hinterland.
Trump referenced his travels in his victory speech Tuesday night:
We went all over New York State. New York State has problems like virtually every other state in the union. Our jobs are being sucked out of our states. They’re being taken out of our country. And we’re not going to let it happen anymore. We’re going to stop it. …
This has been an amazing week, all over New York State. We went to Syracuse, we went to Albany. Twenty thousand people. You know, on average, we’d have fifteen to twenty thousand people. We went to Rochester. We went to Bethpage. We went all over. And you know what? The people of this country and the people of this state truly are great and amazing people.
Trump is not a natural retail politician — even when traveling through the backcountry, he prefers rallies — but his finest moments of the campaign, such as his July 2015 meeting with the bereaved families of Americans killed by illegal aliens, have been in face-to-face interactions with real voters.
In Indiana — where he must do well, and where he rushed from New York on Wednesday morning a — Trump will likewise have miles and miles of rural road to travel.
A strategic shift seems to have occurred in the Trump campaign. And it had to.
For Trump to clinch the nomination, he has to do very well in the remaining contests, plus win a large majority of delegates in California — as many as 130, according to the Associated Press, representing victory in 39 out of the state’s 53 congressional districts. As Breitbart News analysis has determined, that almost certainly means Trump has to win at least one or two districts in Cruz strongholds in the Central Valley of California, with large numbers of Latino and evangelical voters.
Trump could hold a rally in Fresno, the state’s fifth-largest city and his likeliest local repository of support. But he could also use a road trip through the drought-stricken region to highlight the failures of federal water policy, which prefers fish to farmers, as well as the failures of government boondoggles like Jerry Brown’s high-speed rail to nowhere.
The golden age of the Central Valley hearkens back to the mid-twentieth century, when the state invested in infrastructure to capture rainfall and snowmelt, making the desert boom. That represents a vision of government as an enabling force — a vision not inconsistent with today’s limited-government conservatism, but having a clearer idea of a role for government within those limits.
In other words, there is an opportunity in the Central Valley for Trump to flesh out a political philosophy, as well as to find votes.
The road to nomination in Cleveland — and to Washington — may lie through Fresno.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new e-book, Leadership Secrets of the Kings and Prophets: What the Bible’s Struggles Teach Us About Today, is on sale through Amazon Kindle Direct. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.