The fight for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination promises to be a long one. The party itself despises its leading candidates. Right now, it seems very unlikely that the entire race won’t result in either a fiasco at the Republican Convention or in large sections of the party being completely dissatisfied with its nominee.
Here are our top three predictions of where the road to the final showdown at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, Ohio could take us.
- Trump wins
- Cruz Wins
- Republican Establishment Wins
Likelihood: Low—unless the Republicans decide that they have a death wish and want to ruin their own party.
Right now, no one will really be able to get the majority 1,237 delegates before the last contests on June 7th. However, if Trump is able to maintain his significant majority of delegates he just might be the Republican nominee.
This looks like it will be one of the most likely scenarios.
Neither Cruz nor Kasich will be able to steal the lead from him outright. This means that Trump will likely have the majority of delegates during the Republican convention in July.
The strength of that lead will all depend on how well Cruz and Kasich can continue to take away his ability to win by a large margin in the final voting contests. With Trump’s momentum looking like its finally ready to slow down, Cruz has the perfect opportunity to take away as many delegates as possible.
Given the way that the delegates are distributed right now it will be next to impossible for anyone to lock-up the bid before the convention. And even if Trump is able to clinch the winning spot—it won’t be before the polls have closed and we have a final total on June 8th.
With a current count of 743 delegates it won’t be impossible for Trump to seal the deal, although, it will be extremely difficult.
It would also an extremely unattractive choice for moderate Republican voters and other Republican politicians, all of whom are downright terrified of #Trump2016.
In other words, you should still expect a knock-down, drag-out fight between the final three presidential hopefuls.
2. Cruz Wins the “Second Ballot”
Political Organizing—this is where Ted Cruz’s capabilities as a savvy politician come into play. All-in-all, the Cruz campaign has proven itself to be very good at political strategy.
Unsurprisingly, Trump has proven to be really, really bad. (For example, it was revealed that Trump’s own kids didn’t register as Republicans before the registration deadline. This means that they can’t even vote for their dad in the New York primary—ouch.) And as the old saying goes, “the devil is in the details” and Trump’s campaign has been coming up short when it comes to balancing all the things that constitute a well-run political campaign.
This could end up being a real problem for the Trump campaign because, well… As it turns out, the Republican nomination process is strangely unconnected from the primary and caucus process.
The delegates that get sent to cast ballots at the convention do not have to be strong supporters (or even loyal) to the candidate that won their state.
This means that the Republicans could find themselves in the entirely plausible situation where Cruz trails Trump in the number of delegates but that he still wins the convention because he’s been able to persuade enough delegates to vote for him.
This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the “Second Ballot”.
This outcome would, undoubtedly, make almost no one but Cruz and his supporters happy. The Republican leadership would have to swallow the bitter pill of having Cruz win (The Republican leadership really, really hates Cruz). And everyone else would be stuck scratching their heads, at how the guy who didn’t get the most votes ended up winning the nomination.
And the Trump supporters would riot.
The convention floor will fall apart in sheer chaos and everyone would be stuck with the guy that they don’t really like but just kind of like more than Trump.
3. Republican Establishment Wins
Let’s take a few moments and take stock of the Republican Party, shall we?
- Their top nominee, while popular, has a particularly rare talent for alienating every possible voter block that is not white, middle-class, and Republican.
- Their current runner-up is seemingly personally despised by the vast majority of his own party members.
- And the party itself has lost the trust of its base after years of blatantly ignoring their concerns in favor of those of the big donors who fund their campaigns.
Something is going to have to give.
Both Trump and Cruz are anti-establishment Republicans. This means that they both promote the narrative that D.C. politicians have gotten so caught up in the interests of big money that they’ve forgotten about everyday Americans. There is more than enough public sentiment to back up those claims and the Republican Party may well be seeing the effects of years of bad policy choices and even worst politics. It seems that the Republican electorate is set on punishing them for their perceived failures.
In light of not being able to get the candidate that they want in either Trump or Cruz, the party could choose to nominate a third candidate at the convention to contest their nominations.
In order for this to happen member of the detested elite would have to beg, borrow, and steal at the Republican convention to pull together enough votes for their candidate. They would then have to announce their intent. This candidate would need to accept. And then he would need to win.
To put it very, very mildly—this would end badly.
It would inevitably be seen as one of those “backdoor dealings” that so terrifies and ignites the fears of the Republican base. Establishment Republicans will be called “traitors”, “un-American”, and “liars” after it’s all said and done with.
There is a lot of talk about how a Trump win would ruin the party, but it could equally be the actions of desperate establishment hopefuls that truly tear the party apart if they consider a surprise nomination in July.
The fight that would erupt in the aftermath would be bloody. And there is a strong possibility that the party might not be able to rebound.
Photo Credit: © 2011 DonkeyHotey, Flickr | CC-BY-SA