If Donald Trump snags the Republican Presidential nomination, a scenario that’s seeming less and less likely despite his current lead in delegates, he will absolutely get murdered by Hillary Clinton in the fall. Clinton may not pull off a landslide in the tradition of Reagan-vs.-Mondale in ’84, Nixon-vs.-McGovern in ’72 or Johnson-vs.-Goldwater in ’64, but a 4.2 N.Y. Times analysis by Jonathan Martin and Nate Cohn states that “without an extraordinary reversal — or the total collapse of whoever becomes his general-election opponent — Mr. Trump could be hard-pressed to win more than 200 electoral votes.”

The general fear among Republican establishment types, of course, is that a brutal Trump defeat could lead to across-the-board losses of Republican candidates on a Senatorial and Congressional level, which could conceivably lead to a loss of the majority that Republicans now enjoy in the Senate and a weakening of its numerical majority in the House…maybe.

Many would be delighted if this occurs, but either way the Trump brand is clearly imploding right now. You can feel it — the winds have changed — anti-Trump fervor is gathering steam. If Trump loses the Wisconsin primary, he could arrive at the Republican convention in Cleveland without enough delegates to clinch a first-ballot victory. How he fares in New York and California will tip the balance one way or the other.

It’s becoming more and more likely that the Cleveland gathering will be an historic shitshow in which Ted Cruz or John Kasich could overpower Trump on the second and third ballot. In so doing the Republican heirarchy will essentially be saying to all those rural, nihilistic, under-educated, pot-bellied, heroin-snorting Trump bubbas out there that the party’s over, fellas, and tough shit.

Cruz would also lose against Clinton, of course, but if Kasich were to be nominated (a seemingly all-but-impossible scenario) he could emerge victorious. Either way the idea that seems to be taking hold is that Republicans need to at least lose honorably in the fall, and that means without Trump as a deciding factor.

From the Martin/Cohn piece:

“Horse-race polls this early are poor predictors of election results, and candidates have turned around public opinion before. And the country’s politics have become so sharply polarized that no major-party contender is likely to come near the 49-state defeats suffered by Democrats in 1972 and 1984.

“But without an extraordinary reversal — or the total collapse of whoever becomes his general-election opponent — Mr. Trump could be hard-pressed to win more than 200 electoral votes.

“Mr. Trump has become unacceptable, perhaps irreversibly so, to broad swaths of Americans, including large majorities of women, nonwhites, Hispanics, voters under 30 and those with college degrees — the voters who powered President Obama’s two victories and represent the country’s demographic future. All view him unfavorably by a 2-to-1 margin, according to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll.

“In some states, Mr. Trump has surprised establishment-aligned Republicans with his breadth of support beyond the less-educated men who form his base. Even so, his support in the nominating process, in which some 30 million people may ultimately vote, would be swamped in a general election, when turnout is likely to be four times that.

“’We’re talking about somebody who has the passionate devotion of a minority and alternately scares, appalls, angers — or all of the above — a majority of the country,’ said Henry Olsen, a conservative analyst. “This isn’t anything but a historic election defeat just waiting to happen.”

From a Forbes opinion-analysis piece: “Mainstream Republicans are increasingly discouraged about the possibility of a Trump nomination. And even if Trump loses the GOP nod, he could run as a third party candidate, ensuring the election of Hillary Clinton.

“But the integrity of the Republican Party is worth fighting for. The integrity of the conservative movement is worth fighting for.

“Both of those entities will be broken with Trump at the top of the ticket. But if Wisconsin goes to Cruz, Republican voters will have a chance to fight off the Trump virus and regroup for 2020.

“[But] if Donald Trump Loses Wisconsin To Ted Cruz, Trump may lose the GOP nomination.”