Is Trump Preparing His Exit Strategy?

Though he is still the delegate leader and likely to dominate his home state primary of New York next week, it’s clear the momentum has turned against Donald Trump in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

FOLLOW Not only will Ted Cruz have won five victories in a row following Wyoming’s convention this weekend, but he will have captured that many delegate majorities in a row, too. Since Marco Rubio left the race, Cruz has doubled Trump’s delegate wins by a count of 129-66. Trump’s ceiling has remained stagnant since the field started winnowing as well. Additionally, since Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses, Trump’s national polling average has only increased by five points despite the field narrowing to two (and John Kasich’s Bonfire of the Vanities act).

While the candidacy he initially built is too strong to instantly implode like those previous “flavors of the month,” it’s clear that Trump will struggle to grow his support from here. Whatever he has now, he likely has. That means he likely won’t be acquiring the 1,237 delegates it takes to win the nomination outright prior to the convention. And given how the delegate process is going, it appears that if Trump doesn’t have the delegate majority heading into Cleveland he’s likely to be annihilated by Cruz once he gets there.

All of this explains why, a website started by John Stossel of Fox News to aggregate prediction markets betting on the election, now has Trump below 50% to win the GOP nomination for the first time. He was at 66% just about a month ago.

But regardless of the odds, does Trump still think he can win? You will be able to tell based on his tone and his campaign team’s rhetoric moving forward. There are two paths before Trump 2016:

If Trump thinks he can win. He’ll attempt to be more presidential once he emerges from this week’s hibernation and adopt a broader message beyond his cult of personality in an effort to expand his base (if that’s still possible). In other words, he’ll attempt to go “Art of the Deal” on the GOP establishment to try and stop the rest of the party from coalescing around Cruz. You will see the charming Trump I once got to know. The one that schmoozed a lot of conservatives prior to and at the outset of his candidacy.

If Trump thinks he can’t win. If Trump believes the writing is on the wall and his campaign will just slowly bleed out from here until it’s eventually finished off in Cleveland, you will see his hallmark conspiracy theorizing, flaming, and reality show-style trolling increase all the more. This is how Trump will grease the skids for his forthcoming unceremonious exit, by corrupting the process on his way out so he can hold onto his minions by playing the victim card (he’ll use the word “unfair” more than ever). Trump will then leverage those minions as the potential audience for whatever reality show or other deal he cuts post-campaign.

His goal will be to get back all the money and pop culture popularity lost by way of running for president as a white nationalist Republican. Along with his new consumer base, trashing Republicans and conservatives – who are loathed by the pop culture gatekeepers Trump will seek to make peace with – as “cheaters” and “losers” will allow Trump to say “I could’ve been a contender” to his grave. Never will Trump have to own up to the fact that he lost because the allegedly excellent businessman with a very good brain, who always wins, never built a real campaign. There is exactly zero chance Trump will do anything noble or honorable that doesn’t benefit him directly in some way. Therefore, once he comes to the conclusion he won’t be the nominee, he’ll act like some low-class tenant who gets evicted and trashes the place on his way out.

So which path will Trump 2016 choose?

Given his new Wormtongue ridiculously comparing Cruz to the Nazis on Meet the Press Sunday morning, it looks like it’s the latter. Which means “Make America Great Again” is about to become “The Trailer Park Boys.”