Handicapping the GOP primary: a brokered convention?

Good morning all.

I have been doing the math. (statistics from Here

There are 2472 delegates available in the GOP primary.

Right now we stand at:
Mr. Trump 673 (needs 564 to win an uncontested nomination)
Mr. Cruz 411 (needs 826 to win an uncontested nomination)
Mr. Rubio 169 (needs 1079 to win, mathematically eliminated pulled out)
Mr. Kasich 143 (needs 1094 to win, mathematically eliminated, still in the race)
Mr. Carson 8 (out of the race)
Mr. Bush 4 (out of the race)

Among the bottom four candidates there are 326 delegates. Once Mr. Kasich bows to the inevitability and withdraws, these 326 delegates are free to support the candidate of their choice once the convention has started.

There are 1397 delegates committed. This leaves 1064 still up for grabs.

Mr. Trump needs to get 53% of these outstanding delegates for an uncontested nomination when the convention opens.

Mr. Cruz needs to get 78% of these for an uncontested nomination. This is unlikely to happen.

However, if Mr. Cruz can get 501, or 47%, of the outstanding delegates he stops Trump from an uncontested nomination and the convention becomes a brokered convention.

***At 912 delegates, Mr. Cruz stops Mr Trump from an uncontested nomination.

A brokered convention releases all delegates from their commitments and opens the race up to a succession of floor votes that will continue until a candidate gets a majority.

I’m afraid Trump has a better chance than that- the delegates initially pledged to candidates who suspended their campaigns will go elsewhere, doubtless some (hopefully not most) will become Trump delegates. To stop him, somebody else has to win at least one or two of the larger winner take all contests.

That depends on who the delegates are. I’ve read that state parties choose the delegates, so even pledged Trump delegates might only be Trump delegates as long as they have to be Trump delegates. Which means that almost no non-Trump delegates will vote for him.

JMESO, but I do not think Mr. Trump can win a nomination from the floor of the convention.

I agree - and it would get very interesting.
I don’t think Kasich will drop out now that he has won Ohio, since there is a small chance he could be the choice of the establishment who hates Trump and is not so fond of Cruz. Will Rubio delegates go to him? Possible.

Still, unless things turn around some way, like Trump saying something awful that people actually care about, I find it hard to find a scenario where he does not get 53% of the remaining delegates. He has the momentum.
Now, I don’t know if the Republicans have some sort of arcane rules for delegate validation which Trump and his people, not experts in this area, might run afoul of. That would be very interesting. We’ve had riots outside the convention hall but none inside since back in 1924.
Do you have a plausible scenario where Cruz wins enough states to stop Trump?

If I thought he had it in him, I’d say that Trump’s first goal after it looks like he’ll win a plurality of delegates would be to moderate his image, stop appealing to the worst aspects of the Republican fringe, and start behaving like a statesman. If he does that, he’ll start winning over people on the fence about him, and that will make it hard for the establishment to punt him.

Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s capable of that. So I suspect he’ll continue to say and do so many outrageous things that the GOP simply cannot let him be their representative for President. At some point, they’re going to have to stop him, even it it means changing their own rules and causing a disaster at the convention. But there would be a disaster at the convention anyway - it’s unprecedented to have a nominee for President who is bitterly opposed by the party leadership and 50% of its members.

There have been other conventions where factions fought and damaged candidates went forward. The rank and file have always settled down and supported their candidate, as has the leadership. But Trump is different. For a lot of people he is simply unsupportable. He’s a con man who has no clue about policy and a tendency to incite the worst elements of the country. He would easily be the worst candidate the Republicans or Democrats have ever fielded, and by a pretty large margin.

That means the old rules don’t necessarily apply.

It is possible that Trump win the nomination and the party refuse to support him. Whatever Trump is worth, it is all in non-liquid real estate. If you or I had real estate holdings we could mortgage them, but who would be so foolish as to lend money to a four times bankrupt? But I expect the GOP will put all their money into Congress, so they can block anything HRC wants.

To change the subject slightly, the Votemaster imagines Trump getting only 1234 votes because of the racism of his supporters:

Yea, while I’m sure he won’t get most of them, I imagine more than zero of the unbound delegates will go to Trump on the first ballot. So its probably not enough to keep him getting a majority of bound delegates, he’ll have to come up short by more than fifty or so.

Having learned that most of the bound delegates are assigned by the party, I agree that if he doesn’t win on the first ballot, he won’t win at all. Enough of the GOP leadership seems hostile to him they’ll deny him 50%, even if they have to drag the convention out for more than a week.

Great article on the loyalty of delegates:

Say what you will about Cruz, but he’s a smart one. As I said in his thread, it’s all a game to him, but he’s very, very good at playing it.

And this article says Ryan is the chairman. Unless he’s definitely not going to accept a nomination, he should probably not be chairman. It would look like he managed the convention to get himself the nomination.


Here is what’s going to happen:

  1. Trump won’t have 1237 delegates by the time the dust settles on the morning of June 8. But he will be far and away in the lead, with over 1100 delegates.

  2. Party leaders, including the ones you’d need to try to organize an anti-Trump cabal at the convention, would realize that there’s no brokering this convention, because there are no brokers, just a couple thousand free agents once you get past the first ballot.

‘Who will herd the cats?’ they will ask themselves, and when they realize there’s nobody on their speed dial who can tell the Rubio delegates in Iowa who they should throw their votes to on the second ballot, because no such person exists. A second ballot would be chaos.

  1. So during the second week of June, they will figure out how to ratify Trump as the GOP nominee on the first ballot. They may blanch at the thought of Trump as their nominee, but he’s the lesser of evils next to an out-of-control convention that makes the whole Republican party look like a total basket case. (Alas.)

  2. Trump will be nominated on the first ballot. The show of party unity might be a bit muted this year, because the hearts of a lot of GOP insiders won’t be in it, but it will happen.

That seems to be the conventional wisdom, but I’m sceptical a second ballot would be that big of a deal. Cruz is almost certainly going to be in second place as far as delegates go, and it sounds like he’s manoeuvring to get the loyalty of delegates bound to Trump. If he can win on the second ballot, I don’t think it’d be that problematic for the party going forward. At least, as compared to having a reality TV show star as the nominee.

It would be convenient if you’re right about #3. But I think you’re not.

IMO you’re correct about #1 & #2. But surrendering at point #3 is so unthinkable they’ll grasp at all sorts of straws.

As others have said, the second (or third) ballot support for Trump will be much smaller since Trump seems to have forgotten the importance of having delegates that actually support him, not just are pledged to him. So all TPTB need to do is engineer a second ballot. Lots of room for plausibly deniable shenanigans, much less overt shenanigans to make that happen. As has happened in many recent conventions.

If there is one feature common to political thinking, it’s that cans of worms are always better postponed than dealt with now. Kicking the can down the road is a tried and true political nostrum for almost every intractable problem. Avoiding reckoning with Trump (or a Trump-like nominee in 2020) is perceived as safer than grasping the nettle now.

So far we’ve seen nothing but short-term reactionary thinking from TPTB (to the degree that term even applies any more). To think they’ll suddenly develop foresight, cojones, *and *unity all at once is expecting a miracle under fire. Which only happens in Hollywood.

The thing is, once past the first ballot, things get unpredictable. Maybe Cruz would be able to win over a bunch of Trump delegates, or maybe not. But the thing is, he’ll have to win over several hundred of them.

Suppose when the primaries are over, Trump has ~1100 delegates, Cruz has ~750, Kasich has ~450, and Rubio still has his 171. (Also, there are the 13 delegates won by Carson (6), Jeb! (4), Carly, Paul, and Huckabee (1 each), but that’s further into the weeds than we need to be.)

Cruz would have to come up with nearly 500 more delegates. That would be nearly half of Trump’s support. Even the attempt would be a massive shitshow on national TV.

I, for one, relish the prospect. But that’s why I believe the party elders will find a way to push Trump over the line on the first ballot if he’s that close.

OK, it’s one of the reasons why. The other is that a good chunk of the voting base of the party would be crying Dolchstoßlegende!, would hate the GOP almost as much as they hate Hillary, and would feel the GOP’s betrayal more personally. If 10% of GOP voters stay home in November, say hello to a Dem-controlled Congress.

There may not be a trump card, but their may be joker in play. The Rules Committee is going to decide the nomination. They could change the rules so that the delegates are unbound right out of the gate, they could change the rules for placing a name in nomination, they could do anything they want. The previous convention rules apparently get used only as a blueprint for the next time around. The 2012 rules were written so that the convention would be a coronation for Romney, there is nothing to guarantee that any delegates will be bound on any ballot. In addition, motions to suspend the rules are always in order. So someone yells “Mr. Chairman, I move to suspend the rules”, Ryan says “Allinfavorsayayeopposednayintheopinionofthechairtheayeshaveitmotioncarried” and that is that.

It sounds like Cruz has already started the process of getting support from delegates bound to other candidates. And he’ll have six weeks between the convention and the last primary to continue that project. I’m not sure getting 500 people to sign on in that time is that big a lift. And if he plays his cards right, he can get the GOP to advertize the fact that he has the second ballot locked down, and they can advertise him as the nominee-apparent.

Maybe, but than, lots of people will stay home if Trump gets nominated as well. I don’t think anyone really knows which effect will be stronger, but nominating Cruz would at least be faster. The GOP can get the damage over-with quickly and move on. A Trump candidacy would draw the damage out over many more weeks, and a Trump presidency for years.

As always with these things there’s the reality that the rules (and the rules process) includes all sorts of trap doors, hidden passages, and opportunities for the insiders to put their thumb on the scale.

At the same time, a lot of the public thinks: “primary election popular vote wins nomination” and “general election popular vote wins presidency.” That perception is reality to much of the public.

And on the occasions where those two realities produce different results, lots of people fuss and fume and demand change. Until the next squirrel crosses their path.

Until they start marching in the streets, anger is an impotent political force; full of sound and fury yet signifying nothing. Ultimately anger lacks the persistence to push changes through the thick porridge of the actual political process, not the make believe sound-bite process where changes happen instantly if you just want it bad enough.

Anger can be very effective during a campaign season to push a candidate to the top. But it isn’t effective as a legislative force, whether the legislature in question is the real national one, a party rules committee, or your local darts club.
My bottom line: The R insiders can and will follow their sneaky rules and meta-rules and deliberate loopholes to deny Trump the nomination. The anger will be real. But it’ll die off soon into mere impotent cynicism.

It’s not like they want the Trump fans to take a lasting interest in party operations or governance; losing those people for that purpose is no-cost to the insiders. Whichever insider they do nominate will receive lots of anodyne advertising about his credentials as a culture warrior, a steadfast Stopper-of-Obama, and some fresh promises of economic protectionism.

Meantime they’ll launch a shitstorm of ads portraying Hillary as Obama II. But with a vagina!!1! And massive 100% pinky-swear proven sleaze!!

The base will be pissed in June. But they’ll be eating it up by Nov. Or at least dutifully & cynically committed to stopping Hillary. Which is good enough for the insiders.

I hope the R’s plan as I’ve outlined it does not work. But I do think I’ve outlined what the insiders are thinking now. IMO they’re currently working feverishly to convince one another it will work.

Trump will win the nomination easily, long before the convention. After April 1, no more delegates are selected in caucuses, where Cruz has run best. All delegates will be selected in primaries. Kasich has won no primaries outisde of his home state, nor Cruz outside of his home state and neighboring Oklahoma.

Furthermore, most primaries will be winner-take-all at either the district or state level, enabling Trump to rack up enormous majorities. In New York, one of the few remaining states which is proportional, Trump is so far ahead that he can win most of the delegates even with a proportional format. California, which votes last, elects 167 delegates WTA by state and district, and Trump will probably win about 140 of them, even assuming Cruz and Kasich raise enough money to stay in the race that long.

It’s over, folks. The 2016 GOP convention will be an infomercial celebrating the glories of Donald Trump.

Hahaha that would be the ultimate form of poetic justice, though it would probably mean that His Hairness would get the nomination anyway.

Nice handle, btw. Is this all your fault?

As a Democrat leaning independent who would like to see the GOP destroyed and then build back up again (and not see a GOP president until this happens), should I be rooting for a straight up Trump victory or a brokered convention? I’m thinking the latter would do more to foment the revolution, and probably result in a Democratic victory?