Like it or not, the Republican Party woke up Wednesday morning to its reality: In the most likely scenario now after Super Tuesday, the party will have to depend on loose cannon, anti-establishment, David Duke-backed Donald Trump to defeat Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in November.
It's a scenario that seemed unimaginable months ago for a Republican Party that had cast its hopes on expanding its base in 2016. The Republican field was stocked with accomplished governors and young, energetic senators who gave face to the younger wing of the party. After Trump's crushing wins from Georgia to Virginia Tuesday, however, it is hard to imagine anyone else can break through enough to beat him.
A CNN poll of registered voters nationally released Tuesday reveals what establishment Republicans have always been fearful of; Trump is a liability for the party. In a matchup, the poll showed Clinton bested Trump 52 percent to 44 percent, a sign that the Republican Party's best chance to take back the White House could be wasted on a candidate who flimsily echoes sometimes-newly-adopted conservative principles with little insight into or regard for decades-worth of conservative orthodoxy.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – the national GOP's de facto leader who has begun prepping his delicately-built Republican majority in the Senate for a Trump-dominated general election– allegedly told members "we'll drop him like a hot rock" if that is what it takes to protect vulnerable senators.
But demographers and pollsters say that a Democratic wave and a Clinton victory is hardly sealed even against Trump.There is still a path, albeit a narrow one, for him to win. Here is what to watch for in a Clinton-Trump showdown this year.
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