On the eve of the Wisconsin primaries, top Republicans are becoming increasingly vocal about their long-held belief that Speaker Paul Ryan will wind up as the nominee, perhaps on the fourth ballot at a chaotic Cleveland convention.I think there's more than a 60% chance of a convention deadlock. Allen quotes Joe Scarborough, who's absolutely right:
One of the nation's best-wired Republicans, with an enviable prediction record for this cycle, sees a 60 percent chance of a convention deadlock and a 90 percent chance that delegates turn to Ryan -- ergo, a 54 percent chance that Ryan, who'll start the third week of July as chairman of the Republican National Convention, will end it as the nominee.
On "Morning Joe" Monday morning, Joe Scarborough said that if Trump falls even one vote short of a clinch, the convention will "look for someone else": "If Trump doesn't get the number, they'll say they have rules for a reason."But Paul Ryan would lose, wouldn't he? The pro pundits say so:
@kausmickey It's not like Speakership where he was ambivalent but knew it was his if he wanted it. As nominee he'd likely lose and knows it.— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) April 3, 2016
The HuffPost Pollster poll average says Hillary Clinton would beat Ryan by 11. However, that's based on polls taken in 2013 and 2014, when Clinton was much more popular than she is now. For a point of comparison, go here and see how Clinton has fared against Marco Rubio, another ersatz moderate who's loved by the media. Keep clicking "Show More" until you get to the 2013 and 2014 head-to-head polls. Notice that Clinton regularly beat Rubio back then by double digits. Now scroll up. In January and February of this year, Rubio routinely beat Clinton.
Clinton started beating Rubio again in March, just before he dropped out of the GOP race -- but imagine a media-darling young Republican who didn't have Rubio's stink of failure running against Clinton. Why should we assume such a candidate would be doomed?
Oh, but there's the little matter of the likely riots at the convention if Trump is passed over. Right? Aren't riots inevitable? Well, as Josh Marshall notes, there might not be any unrest on the floor of the convention:
... I confess I did not realize how many states do not allow a candidate any direct control over who 'their' delegates even are. So Donald Trump could win all the delegates in a particular state but have party functionaries pick the actual people who will serve as 'Trump's' delegates. So they're bound on the first ballot but actually there to support Cruz or Kasich or some other unicorn candidate....Marshall does think Trump voters will exact a price for this betrayal:
I think many people imagine a raucous and wild scene where the Trump delegates walk out of the hall after the convention gives Mitt Romney or maybe Jeb Bush's son 'P.' the nomination. But in fact there may be no Trump supporters there to walk out.
Of course, there's another explosive element in the mix. You're not just talking about taking this away from anyone. Trump's constituency is the part of the electorate which Republican politicians have been marinating in grievance and betrayal politics for decades. It's a tangible confirmation of every betrayal, wrong and loss since Santa was killed in the first battle of the War on Christmas. Only it's not coming from Al Sharpton or Hollywood elites or limousine liberals or Feminazis. It will be coming from their supposed protectors, their party.But they're only a segment of the electorate -- a plurality rather than a majority of the GOP. Trump is wildly unpopular with everyone else, including many Republicans. The rioters are going to be rioting on behalf of a man much of America despises -- and, what's more, a man who's going to be suddenly and dramatically losing all of his political power. That's going to marginalize the rioters in a big hurry.
It won't go down well. There will be hell to pay.
And what ticket is going to emerge? I think it's going to be Paul Ryan and John Kasich. Now, think about who they are. Ryan spends much of his time these days coating his Kochian conservatism in a thick, viscous layer of feel-your-pain smarm. He seems to fool most of the media and much of the general public. And we know that Kasich's empathy act -- and yes, as longtime Kasich observers have pointed out, it is an act -- fools much of the public: Kasich beats Clinton in every 2016 poll cited by Real Clear Politics, by an average of 6.3 points. In two recent polls, he trails Clinton by a single-digit margin in her deep-blue home state of New York.
Let's say there are riots. Two Midwestern dads, both fake nice guys, both with well-honed tales of ordinariness -- did you know Kasich's father was a mailman, and Ryan once waited tables? -- will emerge from the rubble and try to be seen as healers. They'll triangulate. They probably won't mention either by name, but they'll imply that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump practice "the politics of division." Which they'll be against! Division is bad! And the press will swoon. It'll be like Giuliani after 9/11.
But won't the Trumpites refuse to vote for this ticket? Some, sure. But look at what happens in most GOP contests these days: John McCain or Mitch McConnell gets a spirited teabagger primary challenger, the challenger loses ... and the voters trudge off and dutifully vote in the general election for the candidate they were just calling a RINO a few months earlier.
Will this really happen? I think so. Will it work? Don't bet the rent money that it won't.