As the Republican primaries draw closer to their conclusion, and as the July convention approaches, the forces within the Republican Party who oppose Donald Trump's nomination are gaining steam.
A contested convention is looking more likely every day as the #NeverTrump movement within the GOP establishment seeks to derail the possibility of his nomination.
Why is this time different, given the way many credible media publications and journalists have been so wrong about Trump?
Trump is coming off of what could objectively be called the worst week-and-a-half of his entire campaign, while GOP insiders launched a '100-day campaign,' in an attempt to woo uncommitted delegates. The campaign also attempts to get committed Trump delegates to switch allegiances, should Trump not receive the full 1,237 delegates before the convention.
If that happens, more than 100 delegates are reportedly ready to break with Trump and support another candidate, according to POLITICO. This speaks to the success of the GOP insiders leading the #NeverTrump charge have had behind closed doors already, and it's hard to imagine this delegate figure is going to decrease. Unless Trump has blowout victories in key states, every move made by the #NeverTrump forces in denying him delegates will make it that much harder for Trump to win the primaries by party rules.
And Trump has not made it easy for himself. His entire campaign has been an exercise in pushing the limits of what a presidential candidate is allowed to say in public, and there were certainly many people who were appalled by his boorish behavior when his candidacy began.
But the past week has been especially damaging: the Heidi Cruz tweets and his statement about punishing women who get abortions received virtually no support from anyone outside of Trump's base. His appearance at the GOP town hall in Wisconsin on March 29 revealed him to be fantastically ignorant on nuclear proliferation. And his continued defense of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after his arrest shows poor judgment to many voters.
And it's not just GOP elites, Democrats and swing voters who are turned off by Trump either: a large portion of the Republican base itself is repulsed by the candidate. Bloomberg's Megan McArdle gives a great overview of the anti-Trump backlash within the Republican Party, which encompasses the gamut of Republican voters: evangelicals, neoconservatives, libertarians, Tea Partiers, as well as the other ideological groups that form the broad coalition of groups supporting the GOP, but opposing Trump for a host of reasons.
Among a huge cross-section of Republicans, Trump is seen as a man who lacks character and good judgment, panders to racists and xenophobes, is a misogynist, lacks detailed policy ideas and is an unprincipled authoritarian, pseudo-liberal masquerading as a conservative. As the election moves closer, the voices of these Republicans will be heard more loudly.
A key test of the #NeverTrump forces will be on April 5 at the Wisconsin Republican primary, as Kyle Cheney and Ben Shreckinger of POLITICO note.
In Wisconsin, conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes is a vocal opponent of Trump, and has used his leverage amongst conservative Wisconsin voters to support Republican Gov. Scott Walker, as well as House Speaker, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
Recent polls in the state have Cruz, who has been endorsed by Walker, defeating Trump. One Fox poll has Cruz winning by 10 points.
April 5 will ultimately be a decisive gauge of where the Republican race is going, and whether or not the #NeverTrump forces have the momentum. Trump is looking exceptionally weak right now, but the question is whether or not this weakness is momentary or permanent.