GOP: Timeout for Dealmaking

by Dick Morris | March 18, 2016 12:05 am

Like the eye of a hurricane, the Republican nominating process now enters halftime. After Tuesday’s primaries in Arizona and Utah (96 delegates combined), we enter a lull period in which only the Wisconsin contest on April 5 interrupts a four-week primary-free period. It ends with a bang on April 19 when New York votes.

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This period is the time for dealmaking.

It should become evident to John Kasich and Ted Cruz that neither, on their own, have a chance to get the votes to be nominated on the first ballot. With 935 delegates remaining to be selected — as of today — Cruz would have to win 88 percent of them to achieve the 1,237 need for the nomination — clearly an impossible task.

But, it is equally evident to anyone who can count that were Cruz’ 411 delegates to be added to Kasich’s 169 and Rubio’s 143 it would equal 723, fully competitive with Trump’s 673. And, were the Kasich and Rubio delegates released to Cruz, he would need to win only 54 percent of the remaining delegates to be nominated on the first ballot — clearly very possible.

(Under Republican Party rules, any candidate may release his delegates from voting for him, leaving them free to support whoever they choose regardless of how their district or state voted.)

So is it time to make a deal?

For Rubio, the wounded ego of a shattering loss stands in the way. But were he to stand aside, lick his wounds, and let Trump be nominated, he would break faith with a body of national supporters largely cobbled together to stop Donald. He’ll likely come around. Cruz and Rubio were the best of friends when this whole thing started. Marco was one of Ted’s few friends in the Senate.

But Rubio won’t be enough. Were he to surrender his delegates to Cruz, Cruz would have a current total of 554 and would still have to win 73 percent of the remaining delegates. That would be impossible, especially with Kasich siphoning votes from Cruz and splitting the anti-Trump vote.

So will Kasich come over? If Cruz offers him the vice presidency — as he must — will he take it?

That’s the key question. Right now, Kasich is flush with the Ohio victory and fantasizes that he can win any number of additional states. But reality is that he can’t. The results in Michigan (where he and Cruz divided the anti-Trump vote 25-24) and in Illinois (where they split it 30-20) both show what would happen if he stayed in the race.

In New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana, Maryland, Kentucky, Washington and, above all, in California, he and Cruz would divide the anti-Trump votes and would lose the bulk of the delegates. Most of these states are either winner-take-all or winner-take-most. Trump would easily win the majority of delegates even if he got only a plurality of the primary votes.

Kasich might win D.C., Oregon and Connecticut, but that would be it.

But Kasich is not about to pull out until he has concrete proof that his hopes are delusional.

And that will come down to Wisconsin.

The Badger State’s 42 delegates will be up for grabs in their April 5 primary. Near Ohio and similar to Michigan and Illinois, it will be the best indicator of what Kasich and Cruz would face in a three-way fight with Trump down the line.

The most recent poll, taken by Marquette University two months ago, showed Trump at 30 percent, Rubio at 20 percent, Cruz at 19 percent and Kasich at 8 percent.

If Kasich loses Wisconsin, will he come to his senses and realize that he cannot hope to carry many more states? And will he realize that by staying in the race, he will assure Trump’s nomination?

If he does end his race and backs Cruz, it will nullify Trump’s lead and set up a two-way contest in which Cruz would be the favorite.

Or will he make a deal with Trump and assure the Donald’s nomination?

Also see,

2016: A Repeat of the 1960s

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