WASHINGTON, DC – The #NeverTrump movement is collapsing as Donald Trump asserts himself as the Republican nominee.
Only 15 percent of Republicans are still vowing not to back Trump in the general election, according to a new Fox News poll. Trump is getting 82 percent Republican support. Seven percent of Republicans are in Hillary Clinton’s camp, while four percent would vote for a third-party candidate and four percent will not vote. Another four percent are still undecided.
The #NeverTrump movement, led by onetime television star Glenn Beck and professional political consultants like Ben Howe and commentators like Jamie Weinstein, has been fading. While these pundits and political-class types choose to remain in Never-Never Land, the rest of the party is clearly growing up.
Trump cemented his alpha male status in the GOP with his Tuesday night interview with Megyn Kelly, the fierce anti-Trump cable news entertainer whose battles with Trump so obsessed her that she even changed her hairstyle to reflect strength. Trump’s interview with Kelly aired the same night he won the primaries in Oregon and Kentucky. Even though Ted Cruz dropped out of the race, he kept the door open to re-entering, and he appeared recently on “Millionaire’s Row” at the Kentucky Derby. But Trump beat him on the ballot by about 10,000 votes Tuesday, putting to rest any hope for a Cruz comeback.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 17, 2016
Neoconservative pundit Bill Kristol, who tried to get a third-party candidate to challenge Trump on the Right and all but assure Hillary Clinton a victory, is still clinging to that idea but admits that it’s “Not easy.” Retired Marine Corps general James Mattis already turned Kristol down. The Republican National Committee condemned Kristol’s plot.
Jonah Goldberg of National Review conceded that the third-party scheme is not going to become a reality.
I said that too. https://t.co/XtyPZJxm69
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahNRO) May 19, 2016
Ben Howe, one of the most inflammatory #NeverTrumpers, is currently under fire on Twitter for refusing to apologize for calling potential First Lady Melania Trump a “whore” in a Tweet that he later deleted.
Trump critic Mark Levin, the nationally-syndicated radio star, Tweeted Wednesday, “What do you think? Would Trump fight for his nominee” to the Supreme Court, appearing to acknowledge Trump’s inevitability.
Guy P. Benson, a Fox News pundit who steadfastly recites the Establishment’s party line on issues, admitted Wednesday that Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist of potential justices was “generally encouraging.”
Daily Caller editor Jamie Weinstein, who recently got engaged to Trump critic and former Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields, is also waking up:
If the presidential winner is the candidate voters would most like to have a beer with, is there any question Trump will be president?
— Jamie Weinstein (@Jamie_Weinstein) May 18, 2016
With the pundits forced to leave Never-Never Land and accept reality, the legacy of #NeverTrump might not actually be very substantial at all. Assuming that the 15 percent number goes down in the next five months, the only real damage to Trump on the Right will probably come from the Koch Brothers pulling their money out of the race. As Breitbart News reported, the Kochs’ “secret bank” in the D.C. Beltway is not going to engage with the presidential election.
But it’s unclear how much damage that would actually do to Trump. Trump will not have to answer to the Koch Brothers while in office, and he will be able to appeal to Bernie Sanders supporters by proclaiming himself the man who got Koch money out of the election. Trump will still be able to raise enough money to compete, as evidenced by Sheldon Adelson’s $100 million commitment to Make America Great Again.
The Fox News poll has very positive implications for Trump going forward, but it also shows some setbacks for him.
Trump leads Clinton 45 percent to 42 percent in the poll after trailing her last month by seven points. Trump also leads 61 percent to 24 percent among white people who didn’t graduate from college. That’s a demographic that has plagued Clinton in her ongoing primary battle with Bernie Sanders. Trump also leads 46 percent to 30 percent among independents. But Clinton is dominating with blacks and Hispanics.
In a three-way race with Libertarian Party frontrunner Gary Johnson, Trump wins with 42 percent to Clinton’s 39 and Johnson’s 10 percent, supporting the theory inside political circles that Johnson would actually help Trump to beat Clinton in the electoral college race.