There will be some difficult decisions in the months ahead for Republican voters, now that Donald Trump is the party’s presumptive presidential nominee.
That prediction from University of Wisconsin Madison political scientist Barry Burden, after Trump’s win in Indiana’s primary Tuesday appears to have cleared out the other remaining candidates in the race, setting the stage for the billionaire to claim the nomination at the national convention this summer. “There’s going to be a lot of soul-searching within the party as establishment figures…decide whether they can get behind Trump…or whether they want to stand aside and let Trump run his own race and hope they can regroup after the election,” Burden said.
Trump has been a polarizing figure within the Republican Party, with several Wisconsin politicians joining a national chorus of “Never Trump” in the nomination fight. Burden said it’s possible some of those critics may change their minds if Trump tones down his rhetoric and becomes more serious and more presidential. Still, he believes there will be many holdouts, who will decide they simply can’t get behind Trump as their nominee.
While the Democratic field has not yet been decided, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to hold a large lead over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in pledged delegates. Multiple national polls show Clinton easily defeating Trump in November, although those numbers could shift once the nominations are settled and after the national conventions. Burden also noted that Trump is a candidate unlike any other who has run before, and his controversial nature “makes the general election really difficult to predict.”