Yes, I know. It's getting late. He is way ahead.
Even if he should not get all of the delegates he needs – and he will – there are many deals he can make to win the others.
Not to worry. Just start thinking about the general, right?
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There is a reason why the GOP establishment is still holding out and why they think they can still steal the nomination from Donald Trump. Here's how it will work.
- They will continue to amass delegates that they personally control. These include Cruz-Rubio-Kasich delegates but even more importantly, old Mitt Romney delegates who were recruited by state and country chairmen in 2012.Remember, the delegates are people who are elected at county, district and state GOP conventions. They have to vote according to the rules of their state party, but those rules differ from state to state.Donald Trump just won the Arizona Primary but he currently has no effective ground game in Arizona to win all of the delegate slots at the state convention on April 30. The makeup of that convention will be determined by district conventions. Most of the likely delegates I have personally talked to favor Ted Cruz.
Meanwhile, the Ted Cruz campaign just pulled off a coup in Georgia over the weekend.
- They will fund anti-Trump super PACs, which will go unanswered.The anti-Trump movement has become a cottage industry, with hundreds of loose political operatives raising money by trashing Trump. It is growing exponentially. It's a way for the pundits to pay the mortgage.Trump supporters have created their own super PAC, Make American Great Again. It will counter the organizing at the state conventions and eventually answer ad for ad, but they must move fast. They are way behind.
Trump hasn't helped matters by constantly reminding folks that he is funding his own campaign.
The result? People aren't invested. Voting patterns show that a person who donates to a campaign is 50 times more likely to vote for the same person.
If the Trump super PAC doesn't get big funding fast, the anti-Trump PACs will start running millions of dollars of unanswered ads, which will spill over into the general election. But the more immediate threat to Trump is that they could help the establishment take away the nomination by setting up the following scenario.
- The establishment will begin a series of media leaks to hurt Trump.Wait a minute. What can hurt him? He is "the Teflon Don." No scandal, money, sex or mafia can touch him.But as Ronald Regan learned in 1976 and Pat Buchanan in 1992, the media can be almost nice to you during the nomination process when you are a Republican outsider. They turn vicious when you appear to be winning.
Public opinion can be powerful. Remember, the duly elected president of Ukraine was overthrown by demonstrators in the street. The whole Trump phenomenon began when an illegal immigrant who had been deported back to Mexico five times shot and killed a 34-year-old woman in San Francisco.
The media drumbeat against Trump will be incessant, fed by special interests and designed to get a Trump reaction.
As the negative stories hit, some of his supporters will start saying to themselves, "Well, even I have a problem with this one."
And then they will say, "If there is one more thing like that, I might just not vote at all."
But still the attacks will keep coming.
It is in this atmosphere, with alleged scandal after scandal, GOP leaders will start calling for "an open convention." They will say, "Let these delegates vote their conscience. Turn them loose. Let the people decide."
The national media will agree.
Of course, an "open" convention would be an insider, establishment convention run by delegates who do the bidding of the bosses.
- In this atmosphere the convention will vote to change the rules and allow its own delegates to be unbound.At present, Rule Number 40(b) limits nominees to candidates who have a majority in eight state contests. But the rules can be changed at the convention. The threshold can be changed to five states, as it was before 2012. It can even be changed to none.Such an "open" convention could turn to Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney or others who are more acceptable. The Trump train will come to an end.
Is it likely? No.
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It could easily be stopped by addressing the first two steps, but Mr. Trump's campaign has done too little too late. They are leaving money out on the table in a room full of thieves. It is not likely to stay there for long.
If you hear party leaders speaking about an "open convention," you know that they are still trying to stop Trump. Only when they start talking about "rallying around the front-runner" will you know that his nomination is secured.