Friday, December 11, 2015


In The Washington Post, Robert Costa and Tom Hamburger tell us that GOP muckamucks are planning for a brokered convention, though it's hard to see how they'll get one:
More than 20 [top Republicans] convened Monday near the Capitol for a dinner held by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus....

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.
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:
Stuart Stevens, a former adviser to Mitt Romney, said the need to plan for a brokered convention is not necessarily all about Trump.

“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.”
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.

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.

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.
It's not going to happen, but these idiots can keep dreaming.

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.

"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."
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:

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.

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.


AllieG said...

You could very well be right. On the other hand, it's possible Rubio's core support would drop if he's seen as the beneficiary of an "Establishment plot."

Feud Turgidson said...

It's like there's more than one contest: the one for 2016 (which we all watch in near-real-time), and then for 2020 (where I've been thinking Cruz was aiming, and certainly leading until this utterly avoidable Ted Mistalk; now WTF knows: maybe Walker's been sittin' and wishin' & hopin' on this Fuddsy development for weeks and plans on remerging like a good little Nixon Youth Scout for 'his' turn in 2020).

Cruz's puerile ego got him into pickle. The very idea, bragging to his existing & potential donors & bundlers about how Carson's got a big brain BUT- and Trump's got a big brain BUT- and neither can win the nomination because neither's brains has been hammered out evangelical steel and tempered by God's Catholic blessings and brought to a razor sharpness in the schools of Harvard and hard knockers, in the courts and the Senate.

Cruz is going to have to go full forelock tug and kiss some outlying strands of Trump's hair, and pronto, else this festers into the next running of the clowns.

Victor said...

Jeb won't exit until his daddy let's him.

Rubio will stay, just to spite Jeb, and be the GOP establisment's (balding, and not fair-haired) boy, in case Jeb doesn't make it to the strench run.

Carson will stick, to sell more books, and bring in bigger bucks from future Wingnut Welfare gatherings.

As for Fiorina, who knows why she'll stay? A VP slot? I doubt that. Maybe a cabinet post, possibly. More money on the WW tour?
Ditto, Kasich?

Pragmatic Idealist said...

Given that no one who has dropped out was above 1% in the polls and his support rounded to zero, Walker's great sacrifice for the good of the party meant nothing.

These guys are driven by a lust for power and the uncertainty in the race may be bad for the party but it improves their individual chances of catching a wave, so f**k the party.

Ten Bears said...

I wouldn't definitively declare "it's not going to happen." Indeed, I raised the spector of a brokered convention several months ago, based on my rooting about the bowels of the reichwing o'sphere, with Willard, having sat out the clown car, presenting hself as the "responsible" candidate.

The Retards are prudent in preparing contingencies, and I commend that. Contingencies are prudent things to have. Others should prepare for them. From my unique perspective it lends credence to your conviction we are not witnessing the end of the party. None of the clown car candidates can take Hillary, and in my read of my conservate friends, clients and the fever swamp a brokered convention with Willard as the adult in the room is the only practical alternative.

Willard is the only one that can give her a run for the money, and the dems should be preparing for that.

Frank Wilhoit said...

So here is what I cannot grasp: why would anyone think that the Republican Party, of all entities, is going to suddenly begin believing in playing by rules, on this occasion of all possible occasions?

Of course they are going to tear up the rulebook. The only question is when, and the answer to that is easy to deduce. The less time Trump has to build a 3d-party campaign, the better. Therefore, stomp in the puddle at the latest possible moment: which is the convention.

OBS said...

you go ahead and try this, GOP.

"Please proceed, governor."

Yastreblyansky said...

Weird sudden thought: What if that's what the RNC wants, a convention where the entire country watches because they don't know who's going to win? Suspense right up through June and the entire world holding its breath in terrified anticipation?

I hope not.

Feud Turgidson said...

Yas's scene, Take 2: hush descends over crowd as yuge halo of blond strands and drone-spread cologne precedes leading candidate onto stage to accept party's nomination; speech starts; candidate thrusts porcine finger into air in punctuating this or that jingoism; SHOT rings out, candidate's laid out; dead body lifted up by ... well, it's not clear: there's two pudgy white guys squabbling over who gets to lift up the body, one of them built like an expanded hydrant about to burst, so we'll see who wins this little drama, as life-blood continues to ooze from that body ...

theHatist said...

I need to pretend to be conservative, so I can get a cushy job writing utter bullshit for the NYTimes. It's obviously not a very competitive field with schmucks like Doubt-That and cab-driver-aficionado Friedman.

Chai T. Ch'uan said...

Can you even imagine the frothing, cat-spitting, Limbaugh-fueled tantrum the Tea Party would throw if they managed to successfully pull this off at a brokered RNC Convention? Willard "Mitt" Romney on stage with his hands out placatingly, calling for calm, as hundreds of "tree of liberty must be watered" sign-carrying concerned citizens click off the safeties on their totally legal concealed carry self-defense assault weapons...

Palli said...

What Yastreblyansky said is not weird.
I suspect this is the reason to return to the old ways of a brokered convention-attention getting, quid pro quo advertising money to TV media and the false appearance of open & inclusive nominating process. Viewship has been low & airtime has consequently been very truncated in the last few cycles: but, a "brokered" convention will make the networks return to the full coverage of the past. Behind it all, the decision making will occur in smokeless back rooms and GOP unity will be restored "for the sake of the nation". Trump won't be nominee...