Friday, April 8, 2016

Ornstein: Five GOP Convention Scenarios

Veteran political analyst Norm Ornstein on five possible scenarios for the Republican convention in The Atlantic.
  1. Trump gets 1,237 delegates by June 8. If the experience in the GOP so far holds—namely that every time Trump stumbles through his own gaffes or bonehead moves, or by a defeat in a state, and a slew of pundits proclaim his candidacy over, his voters stick with him—he might sweep New York and win a succession of victories in the rest of April, getting close enough that he looks like the winner. And that could mean more voters gravitate to him as the biggest prize in California looms.
  2. Trump falls short of 1,237 in June, but gets to the majority before the convention in July. There is a strong enough norm that the winner of the popular vote and the leader in delegates should be the nominee that a clear Trump lead after the primaries and caucuses end—say, over 1,100 delegates, to Cruz’s 900 or less—will bring a strong push at the grass roots to accept his victory and avoid the contested convention in Cleveland and the bloody mess that would accompany it. Indeed, 56 percent of Republicans in the Wisconsin exit poll—the state where Trump was thumped—said the leader in delegates should get the nomination.
  3. Trump falls short and Cruz trails—but Cruz wins on the second ballot. Cruz would be abetted by the establishment figures like Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush who would rather go down with a genuine conservative than get saddled with Trump’s erratic positions, ignorance about fundamental public policy, and isolationist and protectionist bent. The genuine Trump supporters would no doubt go ballistic—and that could make the convention floor itself a battle zone—but it is a plausible scenario.
  4. Trump and Cruz form an alliance against the chicanery and evil of an establishment bent on choosing someone else. Despite the growing poison between the two men, one can imagine them joining forces to stick it to an establishment they both despise, one that would be perfectly happy going to a candidate who did not run in a single primary or bloody himself on any of the battlefields. A Trump/Cruz alliance, including possible a Trump/Cruz ticket, would easily prevail. Sounds crazy, no? What has not been crazy this year?
  5. The establishment has enough muscle and support to choose an outsider who does not have the negatives that are evident for Trump and Cruz. Privately, many Republican office holders who are appalled by Trump and despise Cruz would rather take chaos and worse at the convention triggered by such a move to get a nominee they find palatable. I find this scenario the least likely of the five; manipulating the convention delegates without brokers, and violating all the norms of popular rule to choose nominees (foolish though they may be) to bypass two candidates with 80 percent support among the delegates does not make sense. And the upheaval at the convention would probably make Chicago 1968 look like a picnic.

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