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“Will The GOP Truly Choose To Risk The Wrath Of Trump’s Voters?”: It Would Almost Certainly Be Very Ugly For The GOP

After all the sturm und drang of the Republican contests it appears to come to this: all signs point to a brokered GOP convention, as it’s unlikely that Donald Trump will reach the absolute majority of delegates required to take the nomination outright. If current electoral patterns hold, Trump will likely fall just short of the magic number required to win on the first ballot. Though I wouldn’t normally link to anything out of Breitbart, their delegate predictions showing Trump falling short by 50 to 100 delegates for the upcoming GOP contests seem sober and likely accurate barring unforeseen events.

If no candidate reaches a majority on the first ballot, the race moves to a second ballot in which the delegates are (mostly) free to vote for whomever they please. And that person will almost certainly not be Donald Trump. Whether it’s in Colorado where the Cruz campaign outworked Donald Trump to win all 21 delegates, or in Indiana where state and county party officials are so hostile to Trump that nearly every delegate will bolt from him after the first ballot, the table is set to prevent the clear winner of the majority of votes in the GOP primary from getting the nomination.

The beneficiary of the second-ballot vote will almost certainly be Ted Cruz. As Nate Silver notes, the possibility of Paul Ryan or another white-horse knight being nominated at the convention is fairly low, the actual human delegates making the decisions are mostly conservative activists from suburbs and rural areas all across the nation much likely to back a more legitimate hardliner like Cruz than the handpicked choice of the beltway and Charles Koch.

In either case, though, there’s the problem of what to do about Donald Trump and his voters. He (like the other candidates still in the race) has already rescinded his pledge to back the eventual nominee. If he is denied the nomination despite earning a clear plurality of actual votes, there’s no telling what he might do, but it would almost certainly be very ugly for the GOP. While the chances of an independent candidacy are next to nil, he would likely spend the entire rest of the election season creating headlines by sabotaging the eventual nominee and directing his voters to stay home and/or decline to vote for him. If even 10% of Trump’s voters chose to stay home, that in turn would have disastrous consequences for the GOP ticket both at the top and downballot.

One might say that a Trump nomination would be so toxic to the GOP brand that party officials will be inclined to take their chances on that scenario. There’s certainly plenty of data to show that while Trump’s voters might stay home from the polls in a huff, a large number of less populist GOP voters would refuse to vote for him in the fall. But it’s not entirely clear that Ted Cruz is any more likable or appealing to the general electorate–and Cruz’ actual policy positions on everything but immigration are significantly more extreme than Trump’s. So in essence Republican officials might end up infuriating the most dedicated and motivated plurality of their voting base for not that much advantage.

Would they really make such a move to protect social conservatism and Reaganomics from even the slightest challenge of Trumpist heresy? It seems increasingly likely, but it would be a shortsighted move.


By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 9, 2016

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Trump Supporters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Many Republicans Won’t Back Trump, And Trump Voters Hate Cruz”: Could A Downballot Wave For Democrats Be Coming?

David Brooks notwithstanding, this is not a wonderful moment to be a conservative. A new poll out of California highlights the disaster looming for the Republican Party across the nation, but particularly in blue states.

The most troubling problem is that even in a big blue state like California, Trump holds a commanding 7-point lead over Ted Cruz. As Trump will certainly hold the plurality of delegates entering the national GOP convention, Republicans are currently trying to figure out whether to back him and let come what may, or wrest the nomination from him in a brokered convention. But the brokered convention strategy relies mostly on Trump’s not reaching an outright delegate majority–a question that may not be resolved until California’s large batch of delegates is determined. If the business magnate wins big in California, he will probably reach the delegate majority he needs, crushing establishment hopes of subverting his nomination.

But the even more troubling issue for Republicans is that the party is deeply, deeply divided no matter what they do. Many moderate and evangelical Republicans despise Trump and say they will not vote for him. Meanwhile, Trump’s voters cannot stand Ted Cruz:

A quarter of California Republican voters polled said they would refuse to vote for Trump in November if he is the party’s nominee. Almost one-third of those backing Trump’s leading competitor, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, said they would not cast a ballot for Trump. Voters who back Trump, meanwhile, are critical of Cruz, with only half holding a favorable impression of him.

Much of this is probably overblown, of course: when Republicans are faced with the prospect of a Clinton or Sanders presidency, the vast majority will still hold their nose and toe the line for the GOP. But these numbers constitute an unprecedented level of disaffection with their choices. That’s understandable: many ideological and theocratic conservatives don’t feel they can trust Trump on policy, establishment and future-minded Republicans know that his racist appeals will destroy their future, even as more moderate, populist and ideologically flexible Republicans are turned off by Cruz’ oily cynicism and radicalism.

Even a modest drop in turnout by the GOP in blue states and districts could lead to a downballot debacle for the Republican Party, and could even cost them the majority in the House given a big enough wave. The Cook Political Report and other prognosticators have revised their house race projections to account for the Trump effect (and quite possibly for the Cruz effect as well.)

So far, the GOP has latched itself to the hope that even if it must throw away the presidency this cycle, it can count on control of the House, the Supreme Court and most legislatures. With Scalia’s passing the Supreme Court is lost given a Democratic win in 2016, the Senate will likely change hands, and their House majority seems set to shrink or even disappear. Many legislatures may also flip as well given a wave election.

Things can change, of course: an economic downturn or major terrorist attack could alter the landscape significantly. But as things stand, circumstances are ripe for a GOP debacle up and down the ballot.


By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, March 27, 2016

March 29, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Here’s A Shocker”: Republican Voters Really Don’t Care For The Idea Of Party Elites Picking The Nominee

It’s understandable that everybody’s absorbed with figuring out the various ways Republican Party elites could find to screw Donald Trump and/or Ted Cruz out of the presidential nomination and impose on the GOP a candidate more to their — and general-election voters’ — liking. After all, the whole “contested convention” thing is pretty novel, as is the white-hot antipathy of so many prominent Republicans to their party’s most likely nominee in a year when they thought they were going to have a downhill path to the White House.

What most of this speculation ignores is the growing evidence that actual Republican voters would not take too kindly to being shoved out of the decision-making process for a nominee. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post points to two emphatic data points:

A new Bloomberg Politics poll finds that 63 percent of Republican voters nationwide think that the winner of the most delegates should get the GOP nomination, even if he does not win an outright majority. Only 33 percent say the delegates at a contested convention should pick the nominee instead …

  [A] CNN poll earlier this week … found that by 60-38, Republican voters think the candidate with the most delegates should get the nomination, even without a majority.

As Sargent notes, both polls also showed Trump losing to Hillary Clinton in a general election, which will be the party elites’ excuse for taking over the nomination process if they can — and if they dare.

But they could be courting disaster if they do so. An even more emphatic indicator of rank-and-file antipathy to a bossed convention comes from a HuffPost/YouGov survey, which shows only 16 percent of self-identified Republicans and leaners being “satisfied” with a nominee chosen from outside the current field, while the idea makes 55 percent angry. The second-worst idea, respondents to the survey say, would be to nominate John Kasich, the closest thing to an acceptable-to-the-Establishment candidate left in the field and the brandisher of many a general-election poll. Seems Republicans who keep passing up opportunities to vote for Kasich may mean it.

There is, of course, more than a little irony in the insistence of Republican voters on intra-party democracy. This is, after all, the party that’s busy creating potholes in the path to the ballot box anywhere it can. And you could make the argument that latter-day “constitutional conservatism” is all about creating iron-clad protections for conservative governing models (and the interests that benefit from them) against popular majorities acting through Congress or the presidency to enact progressive policies. There’s very significant support among conservative activists for repealing the 17th Amendment to take away direct election of U.S. senators in favor of returning the privilege to state legislators.

In that context, this sort of opinion expressed by North Dakota RNC member Curly Haugland isn’t so surprising:

“Do the primaries choose a nominee or do the convention delegates?” he asked. “It can’t be both.” “Democracy is pretty popular,” he added, “but it’s simply not the way we do it.”

I suspect party leaders like Haugland are in the process of finding out that Republicans want democracy for themselves even if they are occasionally willing to deny it to those people who are presumed to want to live off the hard work of virtuous older white people, or murder their own babies, or force bakers of conscience to create same-sex-wedding cakes. And a “brokered convention” that ignores this sentiment may soon find those sunny general-election polls showing some non-Trump or non-Cruz candidate winning may be premature.


By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 25, 2016

March 26, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, GOP Voters, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Democracy Trumped”: Could Trump Actually Win The Election?

I’ve been having incessant conversations with friends, family, and colleagues about politics, and they all boil down to the same question. Could Donald Trump be our next president?

Here is an amalgam of the conversation. See which side you’re on:

—I think Trump might actually win.

—You mean the Republican nomination?

—No, I mean the election.

—Get serious. For starters, the Republican leaders would never allow that. They’d be much better off with Rubio-Kasich or Kasich-Rubio.

—Maybe they would. But there are no smoke-filled rooms anymore. Leaders don’t make these decisions. Primary voters do, and they love Trump. The more outrageous he is and the less connected to facts, the more his support grows.

—Yeah, but he’s a media phenomenon. He is such an egomaniac that he hasn’t even bothered to build an organization. He has no ground game. That’s why Cruz has pulled ahead on Iowa.

—Iowa is a special case because it’s a caucus state. In a society where people are increasingly disconnected from politics, Trump can motivate people just as a media candidate. If he needs an organization to get out his vote, he can buy one.

—He’s already peaked.

—Maybe, but under the new Republican rules that were put in place in 2014, all of the primaries after March 15 are winner-take-all. He only needs to come in first and he gets all of the state’s delegates, even if he has 25 percent of the vote and, say, the runner-up has 22 percent. The Republicans did this to get an early nominee. They didn’t foresee Trump.

—It’s still unlikely that he will get 50 percent of the delegates. If he gets less than 50 percent and it’s a brokered convention, all of the others will unite to prevent Trump from being the nominee.

—Think again. Trump may be a fool and a demagogue when it comes to actual policy, but one thing he’s good at is making deals. Suppose he comes into the convention with 45 percent of the delegates. All he has to do is offer the vice-presidential nomination to someone who controls at least 5 percent of the delegates, and he’s over the top. Can you imagine all of the other candidates, who really hate each other, somehow uniting to block Trump?

—Even if by some miracle he’s nominated, he can’t win. He has just alienated too many groups—women, blacks, Muslims, immigrants.

—That depends. If we have a few more terrorist incidents, or if some more skeletons come out of Hillary’s closet, all bets are off.

—Mainstream Republicans will vote for Hillary in droves.

—Yes, such as they are. But Hillary is not producing much enthusiasm, whereas Trump’s base is really fired up.

—But imagine the debates. This is complicated stuff. Hillary is so much better informed on the issues. He just makes it up.

—Right, but that doesn’t seem to hurt him. She is hawkish for a Democrat, but there is no way she will be tougher than Trump. And the fact that this is very complicated stuff and Hillary really understands the complexity—that doesn’t necessarily play to her advantage. A lot of voters want simple. And there is one more element.

—What’s that?

—Trump is already the most populist of the Republican candidates, and the most appealing to working-class voters. He doesn’t hate government the way the others do. You can count on him to move left after he is nominated, posing as the defender of Social Security and Medicare, and demanding higher taxes on the rich. Hillary, long allied with Wall Street, is less than an ideal opponent. She may take some Republican votes, but he may take more Democratic ones.

—That’s sobering. Do you happen to know the rules for emigrating to Canada?


By: Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect, December 29, 2015

January 2, 2016 Posted by | Democracy, Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, GOP Voters | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Newt In The Playpen”: Gingrich Just Wants To Help TV Networks

Even with his own sense of grandiosity, I doubt even Newt Gingrich truly believes a brokered convention is on the horizon. Mitt Romney, while still a weak candidate for the general election, is working his way steadily up to the required delegate count, and the leaders of the Republican Party—such as possible White Knight Jeb Bush—are throwing their lot behind Romney.

But Gingrich isn’t quite ready to drop the line, and his reasoning for why a brokered convention would help his party has become specious to a hilarious degree. Yesterday he suggested that it’d help Republicans because a brokered convention would just be so much darn fun to watch. Via GOP12, here’s what Gingrich said on CNN:

“That would be the most exciting 60 days of civic participation in the age of Facebook and Youtube. … the convention would be the most exciting convention in modern times, and whoever became the nominee would have the highest attendance, the highest viewership in history for their acceptance speech.”

As a political observer who will spend the last days of August searching for a good story in Tampa, I certainly share Gingrich’s desire for a convention with a bit of fun and uncertainty. But it’s hard to imagine how that would help the Republicans. Conventions are droll affairs of little interest except for the most diehard political junkies. Sometimes a young politician is introduced to the national spotlight with a great speech—such as Obama in 2004—but real drama doesn’t tend to help the hosting party. The Chicago Democratic convention in 1968 wasn’t lacking in excitement, but that didn’t work out so well for Humphrey in the general election. Or take 1976 and 1980, when an intra-party primary challenge against an incumbent president added extra intrigue, deflating the standing of the incumbent in both instances.

A brokered convention this year would attract viewers who might typically tune it out, and would create have a host of viral-ready clips to be spread across YouTube and Twitter. It wouldn’t be the harmonious kumbaya moments that would get passed around, it’d be clips of a discordant party at war with itself, not exactly the best posture for entering a general election against a sitting president.


By: Patrick Caldwell, The American Prospect, March 23, 2012

March 24, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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