The big Trump advantage is that he has no actual ideology. Why is that seeming minus a plus? Because the fact that the guy has shown zero aptitude for understanding policy means that in a general election he’d need to provide some real specifics about what he intends to do as president. Normally candidates can rely on some in-house brain trust to provide him or her with the gritty details. But Trump doesn’t have one of those either, and appears almost entirely dependent on the experts he sees, by his own description, on “the shows.”
The GOP’s ruling class, for all of its many deficiencies, isn’t short on thought-out policy positions or white papers. So should Trump become the nominee, its members are assuming they can tutor him. He’ll need substance, and they think they can provide it.
Plus, unlike Cruz, Trump has no discernable ideological foundation, so all they would need to do is convince him it’s in his best interest to keep sounding like a brash, law-and-order populist even as he quietly embraces the Heritage Foundation’s views on tax policy.
And Trump’s ideological looseness also has one other central advantage, and this is one you won’t ever hear anyone say over at Heritage: he isn’t a conservative, and conservatives have a terrible track record at getting elected president in the post-Reagan era.