Monday, April 04, 2016


I think Mike Allen of Politico is right:
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.

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.
I think there's more than a 60% chance of a convention deadlock. Allen quotes Joe Scarborough, who's absolutely right:
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:

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....

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.
Marshall does think Trump voters will exact a price for this betrayal:
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.

It won't go down well. There will be hell to pay.
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.

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.


AllieG said...

Ryan was a candidate for national office in the last election and did nothing to help his ticket. Moreover, not just Trump but Cruz (running in second) would have a vested interest in seeing Ryan lose to Clinton. And if there's one thing we know about Ted, he's quick to act on his self-interest.

Ten Bears said...

Everyone slavering at the bit to see the republican convention contested, but not one word of the very real possibility of a contested democrat convention.

This'll throw a monkey wrench in the works: what if T Rump quits? The only way the narcissist asshole can not lose is to not run.

AllieG said...

Ten Bears, either Clinton or Sanders will have a majority needed for nomination before the convention starts.

mlbxxxxxx said...

I believe the results of 2008 and 2012 (when candidates led the GOP ticket that the folks following Trump didn't like) suggest that dissing the Trump voters will not work well for whomever is at the top of the ticket. I think it's going to hurt down ballot as well, but that's always a little harder to predict given the nature of so many local races.

I also don't buy that Ryan is going to end up at the top of the ticket. Cruz has been busily stacking the delegate deck for the second ballot, so you not only have to stop Trump on the first ballot, you have a very well organized Cruz to deal with on subsequent ballots. It is not going to be easy to give the nomination to someone that no one on the floor of the convention has ever voted for or been committed to as a delegate. I think a Ryan nomination is a pipe dream.

Romney and McCain lost, partly at least, because neither really had the enthusiastic backing of the hardest core of the base -- arguably the Trump voters. But they both at least had the full-throated backing of their convention delegates. You are suggesting a scenario where there is going to be a huge floor fight resulting in a nomination of a candidate that has not won one vote in the primary who is then going to go on to victory in November. I'm not sure that even really rises to the reality of a "pipe dream."

Ten Bears said...

With or without superdelegates?

CH said...
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Phil Freeman said...
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Unknown said...

Sam Wang think it's all over but the counting
"Basically, I think the Democratic and GOP primaries are settled."
Defy Dr. Wang at your peril. Many have come to regret it.

Also, check out his work on Gerrymandering. Both on his web site and here (google for more, there's lots!):

There are good guy in this world and Dr. Wang is near to top of my list.

Victor said...

Trump's not organized.
Cruz, is.
And he won't go quietely, into that good night.
He'll do whatever it takes to be the GOP candidate.
Bet on it...

Greg said...

Will it work? Don't bet the rent money that it won't.

I won’t, because I know that there remain a disturbing amount of self-proclaimed centrists in the heartland, for whom the concept of a safe and/or acceptable Republican is still a thing.

CH said...

I agree with you, Steve, that it's a good bet that Ryan comes out the nominee. However, as I hypothesized the other day here, I think there's also a good bet that the #2 will be Cruz, not Kasich. There'll be a need to mollify TC, and the #2 slot (guaranteeing him nonstop attention through November at least, and TC does love his attention) would serve that purpose, as well as roping in his fundies, and a goodly part of the Trump mob as well. Kasich could be pacified on the cheap; after all, he has next to no delegate strength. A Cabinet chair should suffice. If the ticket comes up short in November, TC can always run in '20 claiming that they'd have won had he been #1.
Given the current climate and the media's myopically benign attitude toward Ryan, I too think it would be foolish to assume he'd be easily beatable, regardless of his #2. I happen to think the Ds' better bet against him would be Sanders, but then I think the same as to the other R opponents - and it's all pretty much guesswork for any of us. There are all those national polls going back for months which indicate Sanders beating various R's by wider margins than Clinton, but reasonable (and some unreasonable) minds seem to differ as to how much such polls mean.

AllieG said...

Ryan has said he won't do it. Repeatedly. Also, would he have to resign as Speaker to run? If he does, I can see why he wouldn't want to. If he didn't have to, he'd be hostage to a Freedom Caucus government shutdown bid, which would be most awkward on the campaign trail.

Jim Snyder said...

Not buying this.

The last several presidential elections were either very close or won by the Democrat by several percentage points.

You can choose whatever numbers you like, but here's a dart toss at the side of the barn.

Say Republicans (affiliated and leaning) are 50% of the electorate. Democrats about the same. (I know, but work with me: this is just back of the envelope.)

Trump+Cruz diehards account for perhaps 30% of Republican voters (angry racist white dudes + fundies).

Let's say only 10% of the diehards sit out the election following the nomination of Raynd and Kasich.

That's .1 x .3 x .5, or 1.5% of the vote that the GOP would be spotting to the Dems.

You have to posit a disaster on the Dem side for 1.5% not to make Hillary an odds-on favorite.

And it's pretty much CW that Dems already have a small demographic edge, and it's possible that *many* more than 10% of the diehards sit out the election: I don't see either Trump or Cruz going quietly into the night.

Admittedly, I've been wrong before ...

... but I think this is a good way to double your rent money.

CH said...

Allie, Ryan also said more than once that he wouldn't serve as Speaker - yet there he sits. He might really mean it about the Presidential run, but I wouldn't assume it. I know of no reason why he'd have to resign the Speakership to make the run; he certainly didn't have to resign his seat in the House to run for #2 in '12, and my understanding is that so long as a person has a seat in the House, s/he is eligible for the Speakership. Now, if the R caucus in the House were to demand that he resign in order to run for the Presidency, that's a different question - but I somehow don't see that happening.

Unknown said...

Could this just be a long con by the RNC. Make sure someone truly un palatable is front runner, take away just enough delegates that he's not a shoe in. Much wailing and gnashing and fake outrage later, voila. Fourth ballot Ryan nomination.

Jim Snyder said...

Paul Waldman, Josh Marshall, and Daniel Larison have posts out today (5 April) arguing that a Ryan ticket would be almost as damaging to the GOP as a Trump or Cruz ticket.

Waldman's post concludes with this:

The problem Republicans face is that as bad as their first two options are, Ryan isn’t much better. He may pick up some votes that Trump or Cruz wouldn’t, but he’d also lose votes as disgruntled base Republicans stayed home. But on the bright side, a Ryan loss would set up Ted Cruz perfectly for his 2020 run. At least Republicans would have that to look forward to.