Taking Out Donald Trump: 5 Moments the Establishment Missed

Donald Trump won overwhelmingly in Super Tuesday contests.

Trump isn't inevitable, but he certainly is in a very dominant position where it will be incredibly difficult for him to be taken out. It seems the only way to beat him is through a contested convention.

It is not that the media created Trump. Trump became the leading candidate primarily on his own, and understood the changing media environment and how to get maximum exposure.

The question is: Could he have been stopped by the insiders and GOP establishment who today are wringing their hands and are in full on war to try and take him out? In looking back, I note five windows of opportunity missed by Republican candidates and the GOP establishment if they had wanted to stop his momentum and, possibly, his candidacy.

Obviously, we don't know with a high degree of confidence whether it would have worked, but they were the best moments, had GOP insiders wanted a higher degree of success.

Early Spring 2015

Late Summer 2015

It became readily apparent to me, and in the polling, that Trump wasn't going away anytime soon and he was the leading candidate. Trump was beginning to build momentum and an attachment with GOP voters that, once solidified, would be harder to break. This is when the establishment and other candidates should have taken him on in a more forceful way. And try to keep that attachment from getting "sticky.”

Summer-Early Fall 2015

First Week of February 2016

Debate Before N.H. Primary

Can Trump be stopped now going forward post Super Tuesday? Possibly, but it is more and more unlikely. The time to have slowed him was in the five moments listed above, and these opportunities were neglected out of arrogance, ignorance or whatever reason.

And, in the end, Trump's success has nothing to do with the media’s propping him up. The responsibility lies with Trump having a much better intuitive read on the GOP electorate and the modern media environment. And the blame lies with the establishment, GOP insiders and other candidates who discounted Trump's abilities, the desires of GOP voters and didn't take advantage of clear windows of opportunity.

There you have it.

Matthew Dowd is an ABC News analyst and special correspondent. Opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of ABC News.