Article by Prof Don DeBats, Flinders University
The establishment wing of the Republican “Party,” dismayed by Mitt Romney’s devastating loss in 2012, spent four years defining its path back to the White House. After countless conferences and reports, the path was clear: a candidate who respected and was respected by Party elders, who supported the free trade agenda always at the Party’s core, who articulated a tough foreign policy to highlight Obama’s endless indecision and weak follow-through; who expanded the party base to include Hispanics (thought of, logically enough, as Republicans in the making), and who re-established a saliency with middle-of-the road female voters.
And the Party had its guy — Marco Rubio, junior Senator from Florida: the rising hope.
Rubio had it all: young, Hispanic, an elegant speaker, wonderfully articulate, fully briefed on every policy issue. He was authentic too, understanding and addressing the millions of victims of the Global Financial Crisis, whose situation has not improved and who are out of jobs, out of hope, and out of the sight.
BUT, In practice Rubio looked younger than his years (in fact he and Ted Cruz are separated by only five months), his policy study seemed more intellectual than emotional, and his briefing notes often led him to speak from the page rather than from feeling.
The unravelling came slowly at first: a string of weak results in early primaries and caucuses – and then brutally and devastatingly in Rubio’s distant second-place finish in the March 15 primary in his home state of Florida. The unravelling revealed a feckless Republican Party seemingly destined to live out its own worst nightmare: a candidate who would not only lose the chance at re-gaining the White House but would endanger the decades-long battle that had established a Republican lock on the House of Representatives while remaining highly competitive in the Senate, gaining a narrow majority there too in 2014.
This is not the place for a post-mortem on the Republican Party (it is coming), but it is the place to say the Party has only one chance now to save itself: dump Trump in Cleveland.
Having proved so ineffectual for so long, how could the Party accomplish this? Happily this is a task in the hands of the voters not the Party, so there is a chance of success.
The tables following show the number of delegates to be chosen in the remaining primaries. Today (March 22) Trump today has 680 delegates; Cruz 424 and Kasich 143. The magic number required for the nomination is 1237: half of the Republican delegates who will assemble in Cleveland on July 18.
It is unlikely that Cruz will overtake Trump. And even if accomplished, Cruz is only slightly preferable to the moderate core of the Republican Party than Trump.
The table below summarizes the present and future arithmetic and the challenge for any of the three remaining Republican candidates to win 1237 delegates. It compares the percentage of delegates each won of the 1437 delegates awarded in primaries and caucuses up to an including those on March 15 with the percentage of remaining 1037 delegates each must yet win to achieve a total of 1237 by Convention time.
Percentage of Delegates Won and Delegates Required for a Majority
|% delegates won through March 15||47%||30%||10%|
|% remaining delegates required for majority||54%||78%||
To win, Trump must do substantially better in the remaining primaries – in states far less welcoming to his bombastic appeal – than he has done so far, Cruz would have to turn in performances far beyond anything he has yet archived, and Kasich would have to re-invent arithmetic.
Realistically the only hope now for the once Grand Old Party is to combine wit, desperation, and residual influence to convince voters – Democrats as well as Republicans (a genuinely bi-partisan appeal) – in Arizona and Utah (March 22), in Wisconsin (April 5), New York (April 19), and in California (June 7) to vote strategically to deny Trump a majority of delegates by Convention Day.
And then, well, stay tuned…..
And meanwhile enjoy the graphic: http://graphics.wsj.com/elections/2016/trumps-path-to-a-contested-convention/?mod=e2fb