Donald Trump has already wreaked havoc on the GOP. Whether Trump wins or loses, the destruction of the Republican party is imminent and will come to full fruition in the elections next November.
If the unlikely occurs and Trump walks away from this year’s convention victorious, the damage to the party would be significant. Despite the Donald’s declaration that he is “the last person Hillary wants to run against,” the exact opposite is true. A Trump nomination would nearly guarantee a Clinton presidency. According to a Real Clear Politics poll of polls, Clinton beats Trump by nearly ten points in the general. Trump even beats out the seemingly hated Hillary in unfavorability ratings, with his 64.5% to her 54.2%. If Trump were to be nominated, not only would he lose the general election, but he’d be a terrible face for the Republican party. He’d drive voters away from Republican congressional candidates, many of whom have already started to distance themselves from him. With a Trump nomination, the Republican party could literally lose their place in federal government: in the executive, legislative, and, indirectly, the judicial branch. The second loss with a Trump nomination would be purely ideological, as the Party of Lincoln would go from an ever-modernizing, fiscally conservative party to one that is populist and authoritarian. A Trump win would be a devastating loss to American conservatism.
The second, more realistic possibility would have Trump not gathering enough delegates to reach the magic number of 1,237 and losing an open convention. Since March 15th, according to FiveThirtyEight, Trump has fallen well below the target delegate count he’d need to win in order to secure the nomination. Because many of the delegates attending the convention belong to the Republican establishment, Trump would surely lose once their votes become unbound in the second round. And to this, the hoards of Trump supporters cry foul, but I cannot discern why. The 50% delegate rule has been in place for years. It ensures that the entire party, not just a rambunctious sect trying to hijack it, is behind a single, solid candidate. Here, we can witness a divide brewing, as an entire third of Republicans view Trump unfavorably, according to CNN/ORC and Quinnipiac University polls. If and when the Republican establishment taps a candidate other than Trump, he may very well walk out of the convention as a third-party candidate, taking his loud, angry, and loyal followers with him. This will not only hand the election to Hillary Clinton but could destroy the Republican party as a whole. With two opposing groups emerging from the convention—one populist, one traditional conservative—the party could very well split in two. Such a rift would shudder the old GOP on all levels, as Trump and his minions would run with a vengeance in local, state, and federal elections.
Trump, through his dividing rhetoric, has embodied the Four Horsemen in his torching of the GOP. Whether he wins or loses, the GOP has lost. Only a miracle can save it.