Say what you will about Donald Trump, but the man is winner. Trump didn’t just wallop his opponents Tuesday — he crushed them. Up 41 percent in Delaware, 40 percent in Rhode Island, 37 percent in Pennsylvania, 33 percent in Maryland, 30 percent in Connecticut, he’s estimated to have won 110 delegates, versus five for Kasich and three for Cruz.
If the race for the GOP nomination were a Little League game, the mercy rule would be imposed.
Here’s where we stand today. Ted Cruz is mathematically eliminated from winning the Republican nomination before the convention in Cleveland. John Kasich has now won a single state — Ohio — where he is governor. If ever there were a series of states that would at least theoretically be fertile territory for him, it would be the Northeast, home of the last vestiges of Republican moderates. Yet, he didn’t crack 30 percent anywhere. Republicans can talk all they want about Never Trump and trying to stop him at the RNC in Cleveland. They can talk about changing the rules and holding out hope that a white knight candidate will emerge. It isn’t going to happen. Either Trump is the nominee or he’ll burn the whole thing to the ground. If you’re a gambler, go all in on the former.
It is worth stepping back, however, and noting that Trump’s hammerlock over the party — and his ascendancy within the GOP — is astounding. He’s a political amateur who never held elected office; he’s a xenophobe, a bully, and a misogynist and he has run directly against the leadership of the party he hopes to lead. Yet, today he stands on the cusp of winning the nomination of the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan. I know we’ve all become inured to Trump’s insults, his know-nothingness, and his crudeness, but it can’t be said enough — truly we are living in a political moment unlike anything that any of us has seen before.
Here’s what might be even more amazing: Trump’s position as the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party is not the most remarkable political event this year. Rather, it’s that the Democratic Party is poised to nominate the first woman to be a major party candidate for president. Somehow this constantly seems to be forgotten; and whether you like Hillary Clinton or despise her, that America is poised to nominate a woman for president is a big deal.
Tuesday night, Clinton racked up four more primary wins, including the delegate-rich states of Maryland and Pennsylvania. Only in Rhode Island did Bernie Sanders thwart her. Early on in the evening, before all the races had been called, he gave a “victory” speech in West Virginia that not only left unmentioned the evening’s results, but plowed forward with confidence about the road ahead. It’s a fitting metaphor for the Sanders campaign, which increasingly seems to operate in a realm completely divorced from reality. Sanders cannot and will not win the Democratic nomination. Period.
Indeed, in her victory speech, Clinton — as she has increasingly done — simply ignored Sanders. Instead she aimed her daggers at her real target, Donald Trump. The Democratic race will continue, but for all intents and purposes, it is over. Clinton can now begin her pivot to the general election, and Sanders can play out the string.
What we now with some certainty is that we’re only a few months away from an historic, unprecedented presidential campaign — and no matter which candidate wins on Election Day, history will be made.
Michael A. Cohen’s column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @speechboy71.