by Scott Rasmussen | March 4, 2016 12:03 am
Donald Trump currently has 319 delegates out of the 1,237 needed to win the Republican Presidential nomination. That gives him a modest lead over Ted Cruz’s 226 delegates, but there’s still a long way to go.
Some anybody-but-Trump Republicans have focused on a different number. When you add up the delegates from all the opposing candidates, the combined total is 369 (delegate counts come from Real Clear Politics). That’s a combined 50-delegate lead over Trump.
This has some people dreaming that they can stop Trump by simply making sure he doesn’t go to the convention with a majority of the delegates. So, if Trump is at 45 percent and everybody else combined is at 55 percent, there is a belief that a deal can be made to bring in somebody else. And, naturally, some of the establishment Republicans think that should be someone like 2012 nominee Mitt Romney or House Speaker Paul Ryan.
The problem with this theory is that it would lead to a disaster for Republicans in November. If Trump is near the 50 percent mark and nobody else is close, giving the nomination to anyone else would be illegitimate. It’s doubtful that enough delegates would go along with ignoring the desire of Republican primary voters.
If the establishment did make a deal and steal the nomination in that way, Trump supporters would instantly go to war against the Republican party. The end result would probably be the GOP’s worst presidential performance since Teddy Roosevelt left to run a third party campaign in 1912. In that year, the Republican candidate picked up only 23 percent of the vote nationwide.
If Trump gets to the convention with the most delegates, there’s only one way another Republican could be nominated and have a shot at the White House. It would require a very specific set of circumstances and would have to be seen as letting the Republican voters decide.
How could that happen?
It would first require that someone else be fairly close in the delegate count. If Trump is at 45 percent and nobody else tops the 30 percent mark, the billionaire will be nominated. But if the gap is in the single digits, it’s at least plausible to envision a different outcome. And, it is certainly plausible that Ted Cruz could stay close to Trump in the delegate count.
But there’s another ingredient needed to legitimize giving the nomination to the second place finisher. It would require beating Trump regularly in the later primaries. If Cruz was able to defeat Trump regularly once the field thins out, that could be interpreted as a decision made by the voters.
So, it all comes back to a simple reality. The only way to prevent Donald Trump from getting the nomination is to beat him in primaries. If other Republicans can’t find a way to do that, they should stop dreaming of gimmicks to deny the legitimate winner.
Rather than thinking about how to stop Donald Trump from getting the 918 more delegates he needs to wrap up the nomination, it might be more productive to think about how Ted Cruz could get the 1,011 delegates he needs. Making your case to the voters is fair and honorable. Overturning the choice of the voters is not.
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