With the increasingly loud talk of a contested Republican convention, the obscure process of picking who actually gets to be a delegate is about to get underway in states across the country -- with an urgency that has not been felt in decades....I assume the Republican establishment wants this story out, in the hope that GOP officeholders, local party officials, and voters in future primary states will hold out hope that a Trump victory still isn't inevitable. I also assume that members of the establishment had some influence on the writing of this Post editorial:
Nearly all will be required to vote for a specific candidate on the first ballot, based on the results of the primaries and caucuses in their states. But if no candidate wins enough delegates to clinch the nomination, there will be subsequent rounds of voting. In that scenario, the vast majority of delegates would be free to vote as they please.
... State delegations who vote for one candidate on the first ballot could actually turn out to be sleeper cells for another as the voting proceeds.
Nor are they bound at any point to support the candidate to whom they are pledged on fights over rules, credentials, the platform or the vice presidential nominee. Those kinds of battles can determine whether the convention is an orderly coronation or a street fight, possibly even putting new names in contention.
DONALD TRUMP’S primary victories Tuesday present the Republican Party with a stark choice. Should leaders unite behind Mr. Trump, who has collected the most delegates but may reach the convention in July without a nominating majority? Or should they do everything they can to deny him the nomination? On a political level, this may be a dilemma. As a moral question, it is straightforward. The mission of any responsible Republican should be to block a Trump nomination and election.Trump, of course, has warned of violence if he's the delegate leader and the party denies him the nomination:
“I think it would be -- I think you’d have riots. I think you’d have riots. I’m representing a tremendous, many, many millions of people.”But maybe GOP establishmentarians think they can take that hit and recover quickly. Maybe the plan is to argue that the GOP is the party of responsible, down-the-middle Americans who oppose anarchists and rabble-rousers of the right (Trump rioters) as well as the left (note the headline at Breitbart yesterday: "Anti-Trump Groups Threaten ‘Largest Civil Disobedience Action of the Century’: With little fanfare and almost no news media attention, some of the same radical groups involved in shutting down Donald Trump’s Chicago rally last week are plotting a mass civil disobedience movement to begin next month"). Maybe they think they'll nominate someone who seems responsible and upstanding -- Kasich, Ryan, Romney, whoever -- and they can hang much of the unrest around the Democrats' neck.
I'm not saying they can actually pull this off. I'm saying they might think they can.
Maybe they assume that even after riots they'll have a better chance of retaining the voters they need for Senate incumbents in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Wisconsin without Trump at the top of the ticket, and that they won't lose too many Trump voters in redder states that have Senate races if they dump Trump, because plenty of voters in those states will show up out of hatred for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
I still think they'll struggle to settle on an alternative to Trump, while the chaos mounts. But even after the disaster this year has been for them, I suspect that they still have some confidence in their ability to control events -- whether that's realistic or not.