More than 20 [top Republicans] convened Monday near the Capitol for a dinner held by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus....I've been assuming that there must be obscure aspects of the delegate selection process that could be gamed in order to deny Trump a first-ballot win. However, Costa and Hamburger don't name any, and I haven't read anywhere else about specific tricks the GOP could deploy to stop Trump. So it seems more likely that this thinking is based on denial and self-delusion:
Weighing in on that scenario as Priebus and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) listened, several longtime Republican power brokers argued that if the controversial billionaire storms through the primaries, the party’s establishment must lay the groundwork for a floor fight in which the GOP’s mainstream wing could coalesce around an alternative, the people said.
Stuart Stevens, a former adviser to Mitt Romney, said the need to plan for a brokered convention is not necessarily all about Trump.In a word: no. Seen the polls lately? With the exception of one recent Iowa poll, everywhere you look it's Trump leading, with Ted Cruz, and only Ted Cruz, threatening Trump's lead.
“Beyond Trump, what you’re seeing is the party bracing for a potential ‘Hunger Games’ scenario where you have a different person win each of the first four primaries and they all have the resources to slug it out until the convention,” Stevens said. “It’s smart to think of contingencies, and if you actually spend time with the numbers, it’s possible someone won’t quickly get the number they need to be the nominee.”
But I'm not surprised that an ex-Romneyite is peddling this brokered-convention nonsense because, as BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins tells us, delusional Romneyites still think their guy can enter the race and win:
In recent months, Romney loyalists have told me (on condition of anonymity) that Trump’s rise has added urgency to their strategizing. One former Romney fundraiser said he was in contact with several serious 2012 donors and fundraisers -- particularly wealthy Mormons and people in private equity -- who were “keeping their powder dry” in hopes that Mitt would enter the race.It's not going to happen, but these idiots can keep dreaming.
And several sources have noted, hopefully, that fundraising guru and longtime Romney friend Spencer Zwick turned down multiple offers from Republican candidates this year, making him available to join the campaign should the time come....
... Romney loyalists say all bets will be off if the first ballot vote at next year’s convention fails to produce a nominee, arguing their candidate’s sense of duty will ultimately win out.
The only Republican who's making any sense on this subject is -- much as it pains me to praise him for anything -- Scott Walker. When he dropped out of the race in September, Walker urged other candidates to do the same, "so the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the current front-runner" (Trump). No one was listening, and no one's listening now, but he repeated himself this week:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has renewed his call to Republican presidential candidates to drop out of the race in the hopes that a smaller field will weaken GOP front-runner Donald Trump’s plurality of votes.Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, and Carly Fiorina should drop out now and defer to the one establishmentarian who's still in the running, Marco Rubio. The math is obvious:
"I think in the end, he has a plurality but not a majority of the votes within the process," the former GOP hopeful said Tuesday according to WISC-TV. "Eventually, I hope others do what I did, which is suspend their campaigns, because if you have a large field, a plurality can win, but if you have a small field, more people will focus toward the majority opinion."
In the Real Clear Politics average of Iowa polls, Rubio is 12 points behind Trump. Add up the numbers of Bush, Christie, Kasich, and Fiorina and you get 11.4. If Rubio gets most of those, he's competitive.
Same thing in New Hampshire. Rubio is 15 points behind Trump. Add up Bush, Christie, Kasich, and Fiorina: Their numbers total 27.7.
In South Carolina, according to the Real Clear Politics average, Rubio, Bush, Christie, Kasich, and Fiorina combined still don't top Trump. But a just-released Winthrop poll of South Carolina has Trump at 24%, Rubio in fourth place, 13 points behind -- and Bush, Christie, Kasich, and Fiorina combining for 13.
It won't happen, but if it did, Rubio would be competitive. The GOP Establishment needs a smoke-filled room.
UPDATE: Oh, good grief.
2/ I've been kinda-sorta fantasizing about a Romney write-in campaign in NH, because a Mitt v. Trump showdown would be, in a word, amazing.— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) December 11, 2015
Yeah, that would be genius: the Establishment tries to win by having Romney subdivide the Establishment vote in New Hampshire even more than it's already subdivided. New Hampshire is the most Establishment-oriented early state, and the only hope for any Establishment candidate is momentum from a strong showing there -- and this would destroy any chance of that. You go ahead and try this, GOP.