WASHINGTON, US Republican candidate Donald Trump has virtually secured the nomination with a win in Indiana yesterday night, and experts say he could even beat likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the presidential race if he can tone down his explosive rhetoric.
The brash businessman cruised to an easy win in Indiana, which forced his chief rival senator Ted Cruz to suspend his campaign, China’s Xinhua news agency said.
While many analysts only six months ago dismissed Trump as a flash in the pan, they simply underestimated the level of public anger over the weak US job market and bitterness against Washington insiders.
While Trump has a high negative rate – the rate at which people dislike a candidate – those of Clinton are nearly as high, as a number of Americans find her stiff and unapproachable, and see her as someone who does not understand the needs of ordinary Americans.
But the most telling is that Clinton has failed to galvanise her party or excite her supporters in the same way as Trump does.
This has been shown by strong Democratic support for rival Senator Bernie Sanders, who put up a tough fight against Clinton over the past several months, despite Clinton just six months ago being considered a shoo-in for the nomination.
Sanders is expected to stay in the primary race longer after his win in Indiana last night.
For a virtual unknown – and a socialist at that, a philosophy seen by many as un-American – to gain so much enthusiasm from voters demonstrates that Clinton is a weak candidate, many analysts believe.
Despite being a celebrity outside the US, Clinton, the former first lady and secretary of state, simply neither excites nor galvanises her base.
In sharp contrast, after Trump breakthrough the states of Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island last week, he has the momentum on his side.
Some of the analysts now say that the only one who can beat Trump is Trump himself.
While he has galvanised the Republican rank and file like no other Republican candidates in recent years, he is also vehemently disliked by many outside his base.
Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said if Trump just adjusts his rhetoric a bit to be less offensive, “he could actually win this thing.”
“The tone and rhetoric is a major problem,” he said. “He only needs to do a combined 600,000 votes more than Romney did in four to five states.
“And if he does that he’s the next president of the United States,” O’Connell said, referring to former Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s 2012 White House run.
Trump has in fact quickly changes his tone after the Indiana win. In his victory speech in New York.
He praised his rival Cruz – who he used to call “Lying Ted” – as “a tough, smart guy” who “has got an amazing future.”