Donald Trump sewed up the GOP nomination Tuesday despite the clear dangers he poses to his party in November. Polls show him deeply vulnerable against Hillary Clinton, and he could cost Republicans the Senate and, according to some analyses, put their House majority in peril.
But the longer term threat Trump poses to the GOP is in some ways more vexing. After a Trump drubbing, the party could very well be in the exact same position it found itself in in 2008 and 2012, re-litigating a core question: Is the GOP losing because its candidates aren’t conservative enough — or because it’s banking on a narrow, white constituency that is being eclipsed by a growing minority population?
“There was hope there would be some clarity in this election. My fear is that by nominating Trump we may not have that clarity,” says Republican strategist Brian Walsh. “There were some Republicans who were saying when it was between Trump and Cruz that we would rather lose with Cruz, and at least put to rest this false narrative that we lost because the nominee wasn’t conservative enough.”
In failing to stop Trump, the Republican Party may just exacerbate the civil war its been engaged in for most of the last decade.