Will the “Stop Trump” Campaign Find Success in Utah?

By | 3/22/2016 Leave a Comment

So far the effect of the forces aligned against Donald Trump to prevent him reaching the required number of delegates to win the nomination outright has proven to be negligible at best. In Florida, for instance, an estimated $18 million of anti-Trump attack ads deluged the state’s airwaves, only for Trump to emerge victorious in a landslide victory. 

In fact, in the March 15th primary, Trump won four of the five states in contention, with Ohio the only state beyond his grasp. Certainly, some of those margins of victory might have been a little closer than he would have preferred, but as they say, a win’s a win. And in the case of Ohio he was contending with an enormously popular home state candidate, unlike say…Florida.

But Utah should prove to be a more interesting case study. On paper, it should be a runaway victory for Ted Cruz, and if the scant (and probably highly unscientific) polling is to be believed, it probably will be. It’s heavily Mormon, for one thing – a voting constituency that has thus far proven infertile ground for Trump. It’s also a caucus, for another – a format that Cruz normally does very well with, his extensive and well-funded ground game giving him a distinct advantage. He also has the full-throated backing of Mitt Romney – the seemingly self-appointed savior of the party establishment – who will be caucusing there for him, as well as having recorded robocalls on his behalf with which to swamp the state. And Cruz also has the endorsement of the state’s governor, Gary Herbert, though quite how much that counts for at the end of the day is highly debatable. It’s also worth noting that Herbert, rather bizarrely, also appeared with John Kasich at one of his campaign events in the state on Friday. Yes, the same John Kasich who Ted Cruz accuses of being a spoiler in the race, taking away votes from him and aiding Trump in the process. 

But the result in Utah will be interesting not for who wins – Cruz essentially has it sewn up – but by the margin of victory. If Cruz receives over 50% of the votes he will be rewarded with all of the state’s delegates, thus denying Trump and furthering the narrative of his legitimacy in a contested convention. If he misses it, they’ll be divided up among the candidates proportionally (as long as the other candidates reach a 15% threshold).

Obviously, it’s the former of the two that the anti-Trump campaign is banking on. Whether they’ll see a better return on their investment this time around we’ll have to wait and see…and not for very much longer.
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