Divides in The Republican Party Escalates

Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, shook up the GOP race for the presidential nomination in the March 15 primaries by winning the states of Illinois, North Carolina, Missouri, and Florida. However, one factor of the race has stayed the same–the divide in the Republican Party between the “outsiders” and the “establishment.”

Chair of the Political Science department, Dr. Joseph Patten, said, “The rules of the party have changed were the [Republican] establishment and party elites have lost control.” That loss of control was evident last week as Mr. Trump rolled through the primaries, winning four of five state contests with the only exception being Ohio which was won by the state’s governor, John Kasich. Mr. Trump’s most significant win of the night was in Florida, who’s winner take all primary awarded him all 99 of the state’s delegates– and effectively knocked Florida Senator, Marco Rubio, out of the presidential race after suffering a crucial loss in his home state.

The loss of Mr. Rubio is significant to the establishment. According to Fredreka Schouten of USA Today, Senator Rubio’s Super Pac raised $25 million in the month before the March 15 Florida primary. Republican donors that prefer an alternative to Donald Trump, viewed Rubio as that viable alternative. For the past eleven months, Senator Rubio has tried to toe the line between establishment and anti-establishment, in hope that the voters would see him as the best alternative to Donald Trump and someone who can unify the party.

When he announced that he would be suspending his campaign, he said, “From a political standpoint, the easiest thing to have done in this campaign is to jump on all those anxieties I just talked about, to make people angrier, make people more frustrated. But I chose a different route and I’m proud of that” but then said, “That would have been — in a year like this, that would have been the easiest way to win. But that is not what’s best for America. The politics of resentment against other people will not just leave us a fractured party, they are going to leave us a fractured nation.”

 There he took a shot at the “outsider” message of Donald Trump but then he also said of the establishment, “A political establishment that for far too long has looked down at conservatives, looked down at conservatives, as simple-minded people. Looked down at conservatives as simply bomb-throwers. A political establishment that for far too long has taken the votes of conservatives for granted, and a political establishment that has grown to confuse cronyism for capitalism, and big business for free enterprise.”

In addition, former Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, tried his hardest to convince Florida voters to support Rubio to stop the momentum of Mr. Trump. However, his efforts proved to no avail. Professor Patten said that, “Romney’s efforts strengthened Donald Trump’s anti-establishment message.” Monmouth University graduate, Tyler Vanegrift, said, “It’s no secret that Mitt Romney’s speech was targeting the people who consider themselves Republican, and that he has zero chance of swaying Trump supporters.” Assistant Professor at Monmouth, Dr. Stephen Chapman, said that Mitt Romney’s anti-Trump efforts have proven to have a “Net negative effect” and “They had no effect on the polls, most people voting for Trump or Cruz don’t want the standard bearers of the party.” Trump’s supporters view Mr. Romney as one of those standard bearers of the Republican Party.

With Senator Rubio out of the race, the only establishment candidate left is the Governor of Ohio, John Kasich. He is the only other candidate that was able to pull off a win on March 15 by winning his home state of Ohio. Governor Kasich has a tough road to locking down the nomination since his delegate count of 143 is far behind Texas Senator, Ted Cruz’s, 424 and Donald Trump’s 680. As of now, Kasich has less delegates than Marco Rubio who had 163– who is no longer in the race.

In an interview on Face the Nation, Governor Kasich discussed the possibility of a contested convention as his path to the White House– which would be the only possible path since it is mathematically impossible for him to win enough delegates to win the majority that is needed to win on the first ballot. He said in the interview, “Out of the ten contested Republican conventions, the one who came in leading in delegates has only won three times.” He also has repeatedly cited polls that show him having the best shot at defeating the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton. With that in mind, anti-establishment candidates such as Donald Trump and Ted Cruz could struggle against Mrs. Clinton. Professor Chapman said, “What worries me about Trump and Cruz is that they can’t build a wide enough coalition” and said about Trump, “I don’t think he’s making gains with women or minorities.”

However, there is much controversy over what would happen if the GOP decided to take the nomination away from Trump or Cruz. Donald Trump said on CNN’s New Day, “I think you’d have riots” and continued to say, “I’m representing a tremendous many, many millions of people.” Professor Patten said of a contested convention, “That’s likely to be a very messy thing which could further split the party.” Professor Chapman said, “The worst situation would be if they gave the nomination to someone else and Trump lost a third party candidacy.”