GOP Set To Nominate <br>Candidate Republicans <br>Just Do Not Support
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
So, Mr. and Mrs. GOP “establishment,” you want to “stop” Donald Trump at a contested convention? Really? Knowing that the real meaning of “contested” is “stolen” to vast numbers of disaffected party members and Trump and Cruz supporters? The party would shatter, the faithful would stay home in November, and Hillary Clinton would be elected. Denying someone who comes close to 1,237 would be unfair and suicidal. A run-off between the two top contenders, that’s fine.
Governor Romney invoked Ronald Reagan’s phrase “a time for choosing.” The time is now, not next week. The choice is Donald Trump or Senator Cruz. They are separated only by about 100 delegates. Both can reach 1,237 or come very close. Neither Senator Rubio nor Governor Kasich can. Mr. Trump has about 460 delegates. To get to 1,237 delegates, he needs 777 more, or 61% of the approximately 1,265 delegates in the contests now remaining. With about 360 delegates today, Mr. Cruz needs 877 more, or 69% of the remaining delegates.
Both men face difficult but achievable challenges. Governor Kasich and Senator Rubio face impossible tasks, particularly Mr. Kasich. With only 54 delegates today, he would need 1,183 more delegates, or 93%, of those now remaining. So, his candidacy is predicated upon the notion of rejecting the will of the voters in the primaries in favor of the vote of delegates at the convention. There is something fundamentally unfair, undemocratic and delusional about that notion.
The same can be said about Mr. Rubio. With only 151 delegates today, he would need 1,086 more, or 86% of those now remaining. Mr. Rubio is heading to a loss to Mr. Trump in Florida – and the other four contests next Tuesday, so his quest will become a literal impossibility after 360 delegates are awarded on Tuesday. So too will Governor Kasich’s quest, even with a likely win in Ohio. Consumed with the contests in their home states, these two gentlemen will cede the other contests on Tuesday by default.
There is simply no path to the nomination for the Florida senator or the Ohio governor based upon votes cast in the primaries. If that is not yet clear to GOP voters, it will be soon enough, and the interest in these two will disappear – voters don’t vote for candidates with absolutely no chance of winning. So, for these two men, the nomination depends upon machinations at the convention – “machinations” that would reject candidates with much higher delegate totals. A recipe for revolt.
Not only are the candidacies of Messrs. Kasich and Rubio inherently undemocratic, but their continuing efforts have run counter to the interests of the party. They have been enabling Donald Trump’s nomination by splitting the “anti-Trump” vote. The “GOP establishment” is right that the majority of the GOP is anti-Trump. The just-released NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows that, in states with upcoming contests, only 30% of GOP voters favor Trump. And only a plurality has voted for him to date.
But that anti-Trump vote has been split – going forward, split 27%-22%-20% among Messrs. Cruz, Kasich and Rubio, according to the poll. Normally, winners become more victorious the more they win. Donald Trump has not. After 14 primary victories, he has not yet expanded his share of the vote. He hasn’t won any contest with a majority. Normally, someone who wins but doesn’t grow his winning margin begins to fade. Donald Trump has not. He has a rock solid 25%-35% base of support, providing him a consistent narrow margin of victory.
If all the remaining states awarded delegates proportionally, none of the four candidates would get close to 1,237. A series of elimination votes at the convention would be inevitable and manifestly fair. However, with winner-takes-all contests, under which a candidate with between 25% and 35% of the vote can win 100% of the delegates, Mr. Trump is likely to arrive at the convention at, or within, shouting distance of the winning 1,237 – this without ever attracting the support of a majority of GOP primary voters.
As things stand now, the GOP is on track to nominate a candidate it does not support.
Normally, candidates with no mathematical chance of winning withdraw, but they haven’t. So, instead, one or both will be knocked out next Tuesday. That may be too late, but we’ll get to that. Mr. Rubio trails Mr. Trump at Florida by about 16 points in the Real Clear Politics average – and by 23 points in the two most recent polls in the average. With a huge growing negative gap, he has no chance. While Ohio Governor Kasich’s campaign has even less overall credibility, he may well win Ohio based upon current polling.
On Wednesday morning, we are likely to find that Mr. Trump has won Florida’s 99 delegates and Mr. Kasich Ohio’s 66, and that Senator Cruz has won Missouri’s 52 delegates, given that the Show Me State is surrounded by states in which Mr. Cruz has won or placed a very close second, and, finally, that Mr. Trump has won Illinois’ 69 as polls seem to be predicting.
If so, the delegate counts (excluding the 72 awarded proportionally in North Carolina) will be approximately: Mr. Trump 630, Mr. Cruz 415, Mr. Rubio 150 and Mr. Kasich 120 with only about 900 delegates available in the then remaining contests. Mr. Trump will need 67% of remaining delegates, Mr. Cruz a daunting 92%.
So, Mr. and Mrs. GOP “establishment,” your only plausible stop-Trump option is Mr. Cruz. It may be too late, with the Texan needing to bank 92% of delegates remaining after Tuesday. Get behind him – now. If he were to win Illinois next Tuesday, that alone would change the calculus. You may not like Mr. Cruz and he may not win in November, but he won’t destroy the chances of every down-ballot Republican candidate, as would Mr. Trump or Mr. Kasich, whose selection by convention “machinations” would blow the GOP to smithereens.