At every turn in the Republican presidential primary, the anti–Donald Trump brigade has been too late in arriving.
By the time Republican candidates and super PACs began an ad barrage against the real estate mogul, it was late winter, and Trump had already swept contests in New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, and most contests on Super Tuesday. He wasn’t the presumptive nominee, but he was close, and the money spent on ads wasn’t enough to stop him.
By the time Republican elites made a push to unite around Ted Cruz—as flagging candidates such as Jeb Bush and Chris Christie left the race—it was early spring, and Trump had claimed new wins in Michigan, Mississippi, Illinois, and North Carolina. And the effort to coordinate against Trump couldn’t stop him from winning Florida; knocking Marco Rubio out of the race; and claiming a large, delegate-rich state for his coalition.
At this point, desperate Republicans had formed a “Never Trump” movement meant to keep Trump from winning the nomination outright. But once again, they were too late, as any momentum gathered during Cruz’s victory in Wisconsin dissipated when Trump dominated the New York primary, taking 60 percent of the vote and all but a handful of delegates.