Trump Is Not Doing As Well As You Think He Is

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Answers by Rory Cooper, Managing Director, Purple Strategies; Former Communications Director for Majority Leader Eric Cantor, on Quora.

A: Much like everything else Trump related; his momentum is largely media driven. He's won many states so far, yes. And he is clearly doing well in polls. There is no denying either fact. But Trump currently holds only a slim 124 delegate lead following yesterday's votes. He was supposed to win 10 of 11 states and he barely won 7, largely a product of low performers remaining in the race. He's won 10 total, Cruz has won 4 and Rubio 1. Cruz had a decent night, as anticipated. He staked his campaign on the SEC primary. But Rubio caught a lot of late breakers and the map is favorable to him moving forward. In normal circumstances a candidate of Trump's current strength would be clearing the field, but these aren't normal circumstances. I don't believe Trump will get the 1,237 delegates required to lock in the nomination. This will be decided in Cleveland on the convention floor, and Trump will not win a floor fight. (Yes, there are implications to that) Republicans should react by voting, because this race is not over.


A: I have not actually seen many senior Republican leaders endorsing Trump, especially in comparison to what a routine frontrunner would have at this point. Just yesterday we saw Speaker Ryan condemning Trump's comments on the KKK and David Duke. Trump did pick up Governor Christie and nearly every time you see Christie on television now, it almost serves as a warning to anyone wishing to join him. It's painful to watch. He has one Senator, maybe a few members of the House and Sarah Palin. In fact, we've seen several senior Republicans like Senator Ben Sasse say they will never vote for Donald Trump, which is actually quite remarkable. Rubio has largely won the endorsement game. Regardless, endorsements of any kind typically don't mean much. They help with fundraising, organization and show momentum but they don't usually translate into major vote shifts.


A: Due to redistricting, there are only a slim number of House seats that are seriously competitive. And those races are largely in very purple districts, which are probably not strongly pro-Trump. Which means a candidates best option is to either define and differentiate themselves from Trump or to simply ignore the national race altogether. One thing I've always advised clients is to be themselves. You cannot win trying to be something you are not, and you don't want to be hamstrung by positions you don't support if elected. Candidates for Congress should focus on their local election and play their own game. Granted, if chosen as the nominee, Trump will feel like a cinder block dragging everyone down. He could harm down-ballot races, but trying to co-opt his message will not work.

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