After Trump’s victory in South Carolina, it is difficult to imagine a scenario by which he loses the Republican nomination. Should he defeat Ted Cruz in the Texas Primary on March 1; and then go on to defeat Marco Rubio in Florida on March 15, his two most formidable opponents will be gone. Only John Kasich would be left, assuming he wins Ohio on March 15th. Even so, by then it would be over.
How then to stop Trump? Defeating him would be like solving a Rubik’s Cube; all the moving pieces have to come together. Facing the March 1 Super Tuesday primaries, Rubio and Cruz would have to get out of each others way. Rubio would concentrate on the states where there a large number of suburban Republicans – Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont, and Virginia. Cruz would focus on states where there are good number of evangelicals – Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas. In the unlikely possibility that both are successful in those states, Trump would have been mortally wounded. If only Rubio or Cruz emerge, that candidate would go one on one with Trump in the remaining primaries.
Rubio is best suited for such a contest. He would have a good chance against Trump in such states as Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, California, Nebraska, Washington, and New Jersey. Rubio would concede Ohio to Kasich.
At least that would take the fight to the Convention, where Trump would be unlikely to have a majority of the delegates.
This would be a steep climb and would require cooperation between the Cruz and Rubio campaigns. Rubio would have to show the strengths to stand up to Trump in a two man debate. What Chris Christie did to Rubio in the New Hampshire debate would be nothing compared to what Trump would throw at him.
More direct path to the nomination is Trump’s, requiring nothing more than victories in Texas and Florida. Than like it or not, the Republican Party will have to make the most of a bad marriage. After all, it happens often; but the results can be quite unpleasant.