"It's time to say no to professional politicians and yes to someone who has created jobs and grown a business," says Chris Collins, a Republican congressman from Trump's home state of New York, but he is among a quiet few among the entrenched establishment that is "confused and cowed" as The Donald soars to a massive lead at the bookies.
As Reuters reports, betting venues in Britain, Ireland and New Zealand show the online wagering community coalescing around Trump, once considered an interloper, attracting long-shot odds of 200/1.
Odds for Trump becoming the Republican candidate for November have tightened all the way to 1/2 in some cases.
"Mr Trump has triumphed yet again, despite political analysts almost unanimously writing him off as a serious presidential contender," said Graham Sharpe from William Hill, adding one customer stood to collect at least $100,000 if Trump was elected to the White House.
On Wednesday, Chris Collins, a Republican congressman from Trump's home state of New York, became the first national lawmaker to endorse Trump, saying in a statement "it's time to say no to professional politicians and yes to someone who has created jobs and grown a business."
While more than 1,200 delegates are needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination, Trump has built a formidable head start over Rubio, who came in second in Nevada with 23.9 percent, and Cruz with 21.4 percent.
Opinion polls show Trump ahead in most Super Tuesday states.
Trump now has a big lead if you follow the money...
Surging off the post-Iowa dip...
As Rubio tumbles...
And, as Bloomberg reports, Donald Trump’s dominance has congressional Republicans in various stages of befuddlement, denial and, perhaps, the beginnings of acceptance.
"Everything I thought I knew about politics is out the window," said Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican, when asked Wednesday about Trump.
Republicans have occasionally broken with some of Trump’s policy prescriptions -- notably his proposed temporary ban on Muslims coming from other countries. But the sustained assault never came, with senators unable to unite around an alternative and cowed by Trump’s rock-star popularity.
Members of Congress, after all, need Trump’s voters to win their own elections -- and they might end up having to back him in the end whether they like it or not.
Their largely hands-off approach helped create a vacuum for Trump’s anti-establishment message to thrive and grow to the point, perhaps, where it might be too late to stop him, even if they tried.
Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas acknowledged Trump has been rolling along, tapping into an electorate full of anger at President Barack Obama.
"He doesn’t get into policy specifics and people are not looking for that. They are looking for a strongman that says he can make America great again," Roberts said. "He’s done exactly that. And the person that I put the responsibility on for that is the president."
Roberts said people are angry at Obama’s efforts to transform the country, including with executive orders.
"That transformation has led to a lot of angst and anger among the electorate, hence the support for Trump. They don’t want to hear any details, they just want somebody to take over and knock this off."
Some lawmakers have been hoping to unite the party against Trump, including Mike Lee of Utah, who is friendly with Cruz and Rubio. Late Wednesday, Representative Trent Franks of Arizona called on both contenders to join forces.
"Mr. Trump’s inconsistencies and shifts on national security, the free market and protecting the unborn and the traditional family are indications of dissimulation," Franks said in a written statement.
But Trump’s three straight electoral victories have yet to prompt a strong assault. Indeed, each victory could make members even less willing to go on the offensive against the man looking more like their presumptive nominee.
Denial remains high...
"I still think Marco has a very, very plausible path to victory," said Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. "I’m still confident he’s going to be the nominee and if he’s the nominee he’ll win the general election."
Senator Rob Portman of Ohio earlier this week also insisted that the man he’s backing, Ohio Governor John Kasich, still has a shot too -- another reminder that the party hasn’t fully united behind one challenger to Trump. And while Cruz, a senator from Texas, still does not have a single Senate endorsement, he has piled up a number of House conservatives in his corner.
But some are coming around to what the people are saying...
"This election is going to be decided by the people out there, not by people in Washington," Sessions said. "So I tell my Republican colleagues, ‘People are unhappy with Washington. I don’t know about you, but I’m on their side, I’m not happy either.’"
Sessions said too many other Republicans in Congress talk up bills they had passed, but said there isn’t much to show for their efforts so far.
And it's getting worse...