How Donald Trump's Supporters Might Completely Ruin The GOP's 2016 Chances

A lot of media attention is now focusing on whether Donald Trump will win enough delegates to clinch the nomination and avoid a contested convention. But this attention may be misplaced, because Trump's supporters might ruin the GOP's chances in the general election regardless of who the party ultimately nominates. The Republican Party faces a nearly impossible uphill climb in 2016, and that's largely due to the candidacy of Donald J. Trump.

The idea isn't that Republicans will lose the election if they nominate Trump, though that's probably true. The idea is that even if Trump falls short of 1,237 delegates and isn't the nominee, his mere candidacy has almost ensured that the Republican Party won't win in 2016.

In a new poll, one-third of Trump's supporters say they won't vote for Ted Cruz, John Kasich, or any other candidate in November who isn't named Trump. That should send alarm bells ringing throughout the RNC, because Trump has won about 35 to 40 percent of the vote in the Republican primary so far. If that poll is accurate, that would suggest that around 11 to 13 percent of Republican voters won't pull the lever for the GOP if the party nominates someone other than Trump.

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If that happens, the GOP can abandon any hope of winning the White House, because it needs to grow its support, not shrink it, in 2016. We can see this by looking at the electoral college, where the Republican Party starts off with a deep structural disadvantage. If you remove swing and toss-up states, and only look at states that already lean red or blue, the Democrats are favored to win 247 electoral votes at the outset to the Republicans' 206.

What's more, the GOP has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections; the only exception was in 2004, when George W. Bush defeated John Kerry by less than 3 percentage points. In 2012, an election many Republicans thought was easily winnable, Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney by almost 4 percent and over 120 electoral votes.

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Here's the point of all this: The GOP already needs to grow its support if it wants any hope of winning 270 electoral votes. That will be hard enough — but the party most certainly cannot afford to lose 10 percent of its base. If this Trump poll is accurate, that's exactly what will happen if the Donald doesn't get the nomination.

And what if Trump does become the nominee? That actually has the potential to be even worse, because Trump currently has a negative 47 percent net favorability rating with women. It's hard to overstate how toxic those numbers are, and how hard they'll make it for him to cobble together a victory in November. To get an idea of how bad it is, look what happened in 2012, an election where the Republican Party's war on women was a front and center issue. That year, Romney lost women voters by only 12 percent in the general election, yet he was still comfortably defeated by Obama.

Trump is not going to win the White House if women vote against him by a 47 point margin. It simply won't happen. But if Trump isn't the nominee, and even a minority of his voters stay home, the eventual Republican candidate will have an incredibly difficult time making up for the difference and winning 270 electoral votes. No matter how you slice it, the Republican path to victory in 2016 has become almost impossibly narrow, and it's largely thanks to the party's frontrunner.

Trump has essentially booby-trapped the Republican Party in a way that nearly ensures a Democratic victory in November. The conspiracy theory that Trump is actually a Democratic plant is looking more and more appealing every day.