A while back, I posted a piece speculating about what would happen if Trump were the delegate leader going into the convention, but not quite clearing 50%. I thought that a Trump/Cruz alliance would be the most logical result.
Once again, then, here's the 2016 disclaimer: everything may go out the window this year because the world doesn't make sense anymore.
A Trump/Cruz alliance now looks rather unlikely. Politicians insult each other all the time. And insulting people is the only thing that gets Trump to take a break from bragging about his wealth/poll numbers/hand size. Bringing the wives into it, though...
It is now hard to see how Ted Cruz goes along with playing second fiddle to Trump. He could. This is Ted Cruz we are talking about here. This is a guy who thrives on people hating him, which means he has a higher tolerance for people, well, hating him. Still, if he joins Trump and his wife has even a shred of self-respect, she'll leave him.
What about Trump's wife and the self-respect issue? She's, um, married to Donald Trump.
Anyway. what does all this mean for the nomination? Well, Trump is still on track for a delegate majority. Here is the current tally. It is plausible, though, that Cruz holds Trump under 50%. There is almost no chance of Cruz overtaking Trump in the delegate count.
If Cruz holds Trump under 50% and a Trump/Cruz alliance is off the table, then we really might be headed for a brokered convention. Or, the convention will not be unbrokered.
The two delegate leaders in that scenario are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Giving the nomination to anyone who isn't the delegate leader will prompt riots from Trump's supporters, and be seen as somehow undemocratic by even a lot of people who aren't Trump supporters. Would it be undemocratic? I'll put up something soon about how there's really no such thing as democracy, or the will of the people, or any other such nonsense, but the point is that it would tear the party apart.
Are Republican muckety-mucks going to tear the party apart to give the nomination to Ted Cruz? A man they loath so much that the only person they hate more is Donald Trump? They're going to tear the party to shreds to give the nomination to that guy? No. Remember this from Lindsey Graham? This isn't even much of an exaggeration.
Will the party tear itself to shreds and do something that would be seen as so fundamentally undemocratic to give the nomination to someone most of them would happily see murdered? No. If they are going to throw out the election results and give the nomination to someone who isn't the delegate leader, there is no reason to go with the number two guy. Why bother with the charade of caring how the people voted? Just go with someone you don't want to see murdered in front of you.
What happens, then, at a brokered convention? We don't know. Cruz is probably off the table. That leaves two options: Trump, or a "consensus" candidate. At this point, that would probably be Paul Ryan, after his speech the other day. (See my previous comments). The question is whether the party would rather let Trump have the nomination and lose peacefully, or tear everything down with the hope of rebuilding before 2020.
I just don't see how a party declines to nominate the guy with a plurality of votes and delegates in order to nominate Ted Cruz.
For what it's worth, here are the current betting odds. The bias is to overestimate the likelihood of unlikely events. Trump is still likely to get the nomination. He may win sloppy, but I'll let Mike Cooley explain in my next post (it's Saturday, so country music time!)