On this lazy Sunday, with the Patriots not scheduled to play until this evening, I idle away the time by electoral weed-whacking. I continue my struggle to gain some insight into whom the Republicans will nominate for President [the Democrats will nominate Clinton -- trust me.]
Let me begin with some facts: There will be 2470 voting delegates at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio next July. Of these, 1865 will be elected, 168 will be awarded, three to a state or territory, to "party leaders," and 438 will be "bonus delegates" or, as they are sometimes called, "super-delegates," these last chosen by the State party leadership. 1236 votes at the Convention will secure the nomination. As I have remarked before on this blog, I assume that the Convention will nominate someone, and not simply take a pass on the 2016 election.
A little elementary arithmetic tells me that Donald Trump can win 66.2% of the delegates chosen in primaries and caucuses next year and still not have the 1236 necessary for nomination.
Thus, I see three realistically possible scenarios.
1. Trump actually wins 66.3% of the delegates chosen in primaries and caucuses and squeaks into the nomination with 1236 votes on the first ballot. I have to confess that this strikes me as rather unlikely, considering the number of Republicans who say they will not vote for him. Unlikely but possible. It is also possible, of course, that some of the party leaders or super-delegates will vote for him, putting him over the top.
2. Trump wins a clear majority of the delegates chosen in primaries and caucuses, but falls well short of the 1236 required for nomination. He does not get the nomination because the remaining delegates line up behind one of the so-called "establishment" candidates, where they are joined by enough party leaders and super-delegates to push that candidate past Trump to the nomination. It now looks as though Rubio is the likeliest establishment candidate, but these are early days. If this happens, my guess is that Trump will erupt, claim [plausibly] that he has been robbed, and bolt the party, either to declare a third party candidacy or to sit out the election or even [you never know] to endorse Clinton.
3. Some establishment candidate actually accumulates a plurality of the delegates chosen in primaries and caucuses and is pushed over the top by the bonus and super delegates. Since he [it will not be Fiorina] is the actual primary season winner, Trump will have no grounds for a cry of "foul," and despite his deal-making expertise, I do not see him wheeling and dealing his way to the nomination.
If either the first or the second possibility comes to pass, it will, I believe, be the end of the Republican Party as we have known it now for two generations. Recall that forty-five years ago,
the long-established union of Southern segregationists and white racists with Northern liberals was broken by the Civil Rights Movement and Richard Nixon's welcome of Strom Thurmond into the Republican Party. Over time, the Republican Party became a coalition of big business, Wall Street, foreign policy imperial hawks and Southern Whites, a coalition that elected Nixon twice, Reagan twice, George H. W. Bush once, and George Bush twice.
Like the earlier coalition within the Democratic Party, this Republican coalition was inherently unstable, and it now appears to have broken apart into open civil warfare within the Party. The Trump candidacy and the threat of an actual Trump nomination have brought the Party to the brink of collapse. A Clinton victory over Trump, or a Trump walk-out triggered by an anti-Trump coalition within the Party, would perhaps be enough to destroy the two-generation old arrangement that enabled the Republicans to win the presidency repeatedly.
These are interesting times.