The specter of a brokered convention that many feel would subvert the will of the voter has been hovering over the Republican Party since last year when it became obvious it would not be easy for anyone to reach 1237 delegates with so many in the race.
Even though Donald Trump now appears to be on the inside track for reaching that magic number, the possibility of at least a contested convention looms even darker.
So what is the difference in a contested and brokered convention?
In simple terms, the first means someone who actually received votes during the primaries will ultimately be the nominee. But what if the powers that be decide to drop someone like a Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney into the mix?
In Trump’s words, “you’d have riots. I think you’d have riots.” In this case, the front runners are in total agreement. Ted Cruz recently said, “I think that would be an absolute disaster. I think the people would quite rightly revolt.”
To date, only one Republican candidate has won a majority of the popular vote in any state primary, and it might surprise some who that that is.
While Donald Trump won yet another winner take all state in Arizona, Ted Cruz’ win in Utah made him the first of the candidates with something more than a plurality.
At this point, Trump has yet to cross the 50% margin. Does that mean Trump is not on the inside track to win the Convention delegate vote outright? Hardly. It does, however, illustrate why this may prove to be the biggest nail-biter in decades.
If Trump were to win every delegate from here on out (and a fair share of the remaining states are proportional), he would still need until May 24th, when Washington State votes, to reach the 1237 goal.
Barring that, the primary will go all the way until June 7th when the remaining states, including California, vote. Each primary vote that passes raises the possibility of a brokered convention, and with it what many are warning of the certainty of outright party revolution.
To make matters worse, fewer than 20 percent of American voters were even born the last time a brokered convention occurred – in either party. Most of today’s voters think the idea of a brokered convention is something added by elitists trying to supplant the democratic process.
That’s easy to understand given that the trustworthiness of Washington, in general, is about as low as possible and no convention has gone beyond the first ballot for the Democrats or 1948, the Republicans.
So what happens in this social media, 24-hour news cycle age if Republican party insiders introduce someone other than a candidate voted on by the people?
In an interview with John Dickerson on Face the Nation, Ted Cruz pointed out that the convention battle between Gerald Ford and Ronald was a very different beast than the idea of bypassing both himself and Trump in 2016.
He said, “There’s a difference there when that’s coming from the people when it’s a battle of the people. A lot of the folks pushing a brokered convention in Washington don’t want it to be based on the people. They want to drop in their favorite candidate and try to stifle the will of the people. I think that would be an enormous mistake.”
Pundits have speculated about a number of possible outcomes should the worst case scenario occur. From the anti-Trump perspective, the nomination of Trump is almost a win-win. To them, if Trump is elected, then a Republican (even if it’s one they don’t care for) is in the White House.
If Trump loses to Clinton, then Trump’s denizens are vanquished. More likely, if the party elites install a seemingly illegitimate nominee that loses in the general election, the party is sure to be fractured for years to come.
For the good of the party and the nation, one can only hope that both the party leaders and those who voted for in the Republican state primaries focus on what lies ahead in the general election.
As Cliston Brown of the Observer said, “The Stop Trump crowd will have to decide between being shot or poisoned. Would they prefer the unpredictable Mr. Trump or the unloved Mr. Cruz?” Unlike the long primary season, whoever is nominated has only from June to till November to focus on either Clinton or Sanders.