The political reality looks very different now. At this point in the race, Trump is starting to look inevitable in a way that Bush once did. The former Florida governor dropped out of the race over the past weekend after failing to gain traction. Trump, on the other hand, is on a winning streak after notching victories in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. That string of victories appears to be convincing some Republicans that Trump, a candidate who has seemingly challenged nearly every sacred cow of conservatism, may now be the party’s best shot at defeating the Democrats in 2016.“What I expect is the Trump train, the juggernaut, is going to be unstoppable very quickly,” Collins said. “People are then going to say: ‘Of course I’m going to support Mr. Trump for president, he’s our presumptive nominee. He’s got it locked up.’”
Though many may have thought Bush’s voters would defect to Marco Rubio, Collins isn’t the only former Bush backer who now wants to see Trump win. Interviews with voters who once supported the former Florida governor indicate that at least some have also switched to Team Trump. For certain Republican voters, it simply makes sense. Even if they don’t see Trump as the perfect candidate, and even if he wasn’t their first choice, they believe he may be the best hope to win back the White House.
Patrick Digan, a 23-year old from Florida, was planning to vote for Bush until he dropped out of the race. It was hard for him to see Bush flail around so much. “He always seemed like he was the punching bag,” Digan said in an interview, telling me that his earliest memory of taking part in politics is putting up George W. Bush campaign signs in his neighborhood as a kid. When Bush exited the field, Digan switched his loyalty to Trump. The decision was based on a mental calculation that Trump is the candidate with the best chance of winning the general election. “What’s the easiest way to put a Republican in the White House? What’s the best possible chance?” Digan said, outlining his rationale for converting to Trump. “I think he’s got the best chance of the three [Trump, Cruz, and Rubio] to beat Hillary [Clinton].” At one time, he thought that Bush was the candidate with the best shot of beating the Democratic candidate. Now Digan believes that candidate is Trump.
James Risner, a 19-year-old who lives in Georgia, originally thought Trump’s candidacy was sort of a joke. At the start of the race, he wanted to see Bush win because “he wasn’t Ted Cruz crazy or John Kasich soft … and he seemed like an excellent candidate.” But after a while, as Trump continued to do well in the polls, Risner changed his mind. “He’s a nice guy,” Risner said of Trump. “I think he means well, and I also think he’s going to do what he says he’s going to do.” Risner wants to see Trump face off against Clinton, and he predicts that if that happens, Trump will win. “I want someone to flat out accuse her of being a criminal,” Risner said. “Donald Trump’s going to win by tearing Clinton down, and that’s the way I want him to win.”