- - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The only people left debating who will be the 2016 Republican nominee for president are professional politicians and the pundits they serve.

Actual voters? They have spoken. And moved on.

Real estate mogul Donald J. Trump walked away with five of five primary contests Tuesday night. For any other nominee in any other year, this kind of performance by the overwhelming front-runner would put the race to bed.

Mr. Trump is beating his nearest rival by more than three million in the popular vote and four hundred in the race for delegates.

“I consider myself the presumptive nominee,” Mr. Trump said Tuesday night.

Judging by the night’s results, voters do, too.

Before Mr. Trump’s massive win in New York earlier this month, he had not been able to crack 50 percent in a three-way race. This is partly because the contest began with 17 candidates. But it is also because Mr. Trump had failed to coalesce Republican primary voters behind him.

In New York, he earned a whopping 60 percent of the vote. He beat his nearest rival by a staggering 35 points.

But that is his home state, detractors said. Okay, still way better than Ted Cruz did in Texas (44 percent). Or John Kasich in Ohio (47 percent). Or, Marco Rubio did in Florida (27 percent, lost to Mr. Trump by 19 points). None of Mr. Trump’s rivals could break the 50 percent threshold even in their own home state.

Then this week, Mr. Trump registered five wins, each breaking through the 50 percent barrier. In Delaware and Rhode Island, Mr. Trump broke 60 percent. In Pennsylvania, he scored an impressive 57 percent.

If he were a regular politician and not such a profound threat to the entire political system, pundits would call these “landslides.”

Again, the professional politicians and pundits dismiss these victories. They argue that since they were all in northeast states that Republicans have not won in a general election in 35 years they somehow do not count.

Anticipating this week’s embarrassing rout, the establishment had already begun moving the goal posts yet again. Now, they say, Mr. Trump must win Indiana to prove he can be the nominee.

Just as he had to win New Hampshire. Then South Carolina. Then Florida. Then New York.

He won them all.

Voters, meanwhile, have moved on. Many who were initially put off by Donald Trump have either gotten onto the Trump Train, or tuned out.

Turnout numbers show that those who have tuned out have been more than comfortably replaced by new voters or people who long ago gave up on politics.

A new poll shows Republican voters are warming to him, breaking through the 50-percent barrier for the first time. People are getting used to the notion of an unconventional rabble-rouser as the party’s nominee.

But the pundits and politicians are still not on board. Yet again, they refuse to see the obvious. What a surprise.

* Charles Hurt can be reached at charleshurt@live.com. Follow him on Twitter via @charleshurt.

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