Donald Trump has emerged as the presumptive Republican U.S. presidential nominee by assembling a coalition that proved remarkably consistent across geographic lines—and ultimately showed more breadth than any of his rivals.
From the primary campaign’s beginning to its effective end Tuesday night, Trump’s core strength remained his overwhelming advantage among several big groups in the GOP electorate, particularly whites without a college education and men.
But Trump also displayed more ability to reach across the party than any of his rivals, particularly in the weeks after his early April defeat in Wisconsin. In one telling contrast, Trump consistently fared much better among evangelical Christians—who Ted Cruz considered the foundation of his coalition—than Cruz did among voters who are not evangelicals. Over the past month, Trump has posted his best performances not only among the groups that preferred him from the outset, but many of those that had resisted him, including college graduates and women.
Despite a striking series of early victories that transcended the party’s usual geographic divides, Trump struggled through most of the primary season to consolidate majority support from his party. Until the New York primary on April 19, Trump did not capture 50 percent of the vote in any state. Trump then crossed that threshold in New York, as well as the five states in the Northeastern primaries last week and Indiana on Tuesday night. Those numbers suggested a pattern of crumbling resistance to Trump that encouraged Kasich and Cruz to quit the race. But even after those performances, Trump’s share of the total GOP vote cast in all the primaries and caucuses stood at about 40 percent.