Clinton and Trump Move Closer to Nomination; Brokered Convention Last Hope

The alternatives to Trump vs Clinton are getting into the realm of fantasy.

Trump Clinton 2

After running the table yesterday, it’s time to stop pretending that Bernie Sanders has any chance of beating Hillary Clinton at the polls. It’s long been clear that he had little appeal to black and Latino voters, and would thus be swept in the South. His shocking win in Michigan allowed hope to flourish that there would be a Midwest surge that would sustain itself once the demographics of the contest shifted. Last night’s results in Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri quashed that.

The more crowded Republican field keeps that race slightly more interesting. As expected, Donald Trump crushed Marco Rubio in his home state of Florida, ending his campaign. John Kasich, the guy I voted for in Virginia, won his home state of Ohio and its 66 delegates. But he remains in fourth place in the delegate count in a three-man race. Trump won the other Midwestern states, which makes Ohio a favorite son fluke rather than a regional firewall. Ted Cruz, who has had the most success of the challengers, won no states yesterday—although he’s just barely trailing Trump in Missouri with a few ballots still to be counted.

Sanders is the much more legitimate manifestation of the frustration with the elite political consensus that Trump is tapping into on the Republican side. But his only hope now is to somehow deny Clinton an outright win and then convince superdelegates to switch their support to him. Absent major scandal, that’s just not happening.

It’s more plausible on the Republican side. Cruz will certainly win more states. While virtually impossible for him to win the nomination outright, he could deny Trump a majority as well. But as he himself acknowledges, taking the nomination from the candidate who got the most votes during the primaries via a convention fight would almost certainly fracture the party. Even if Trump decided not to mount an independent bid—and he’d be well within his rights to do so—his voters would be lost to the Republican Party in November, if not forever.  Then again, nominating Trump might well be the end of the party.

POLITICO reports on a half-baked plan by some prominent social conservatives to mount a third party bid to stop Trump. More interesting is a TPM report noting that many Republicans, like myself, seriously contemplating voting for Clinton—our least favorite Democrat of the last quarter century—if the alternative is Trump. Most will likely simply sit the election out, which would have much the same effect.

Perhaps most interesting is this observation:

Bob Inglis, a #NeverTrump former GOP congressman who lost his primary in 2010 against now Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), said in an interview with TPM Monday that nominating Trump will divide the GOP and lead to a breaking apart of the party. But, he cautioned, it should be seen as an opportunity by party leaders, not a schism to be avoided.

“What is going to happen here is that if Donald Trump is the nominee he is going to fly the GOP plane right into the mountainside. But what crashes and burns there is the cranky old party that may not be all that bad,” he said.

Inglis is right. The party has been rotting from the bottom for quite some time. While mainstream candidates have continued to win the presidential nomination, the school boards, state legislatures, and other lower Republican offices have been going to extremists for a quarter century. That eventually fed to the House. Over the last few cycles, we’re seeing that in the Senate and governorships, too, as the base turned against well respected, reasonable conservatives with decades of experience.

Trump isn’t exactly part of this trend. He’s not a social conservative, Tea Party conservative, or any kind of conservative at all. Indeed, he doesn’t seem to have any coherent ideological message at all. But he’s tapped into the anger against forces destroying the country that people remember (or imagine once existing) that conservatives have stoked for generations.

 

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. PJ says:

    @James Joyner.

    The party has been rotting from the bottom for quite some time.

    It’s been rotting from the top for quite some time too.




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  2. C. Clavin says:

    The party has been rotting from the bottom for quite some time.

    I remember back in ’81 discussing Reagan with my mother, and telling her that he was a dangerous man and would destroy the country. Trump is his legacy come home to roost…and if he is elected Reagan’s place in history will be sealed.




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  3. Scott says:

    Ted Cruz keeps trying to convince us and the rest of the party that he is the last, best hope to beat Trump. The problem is that he can’t get any Republican to support him. One of his minions on CNN this morning was touting his endorsements from Carly Fiorina, Mark Levin, and Mike Lee. Pretty weak, if you ask me. As for me, it will be a cold day before I would consider Cruz.




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  4. Pch101 says:

    The party of voter suppression, shutdowns, Kenneth Starr, bogus Iraqi WMD, and its latest tantrum over Scalia’s replacement has no business blaming Trump for being some sort of aberration.

    Let’s be serious: Trump is a perfect representation of the Southern Strategy/ states rights party, but for his positions on NAFTA and income tax rates.




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  5. MBunge says:

    @C. Clavin: Trump is his legacy come home to roost…and if he is elected Reagan’s place in history will be sealed.

    You could blame Reagan for Cruz, Gingrich and a whole lot more. I really don’t think you can directly link him to Trump.

    Mike




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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “May you live in interesting times.”




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  7. whatever says:

    More interesting is a TPM report noting that many Republicans, like myself, seriously contemplating voting for Clinton—our least favorite Democrat of the last quarter century—if the alternative is Trump.

    I heard someone else put it better:

    There is already a well qualified moderate republican running for president. She just happens to be running as a democrat.

    People should look past their irrational disdain for a name and actually look at the policies the candidate supports. They’re not that far from the 90s republican positions. Same as the current kenyan muslim socialist that sits in the white house.




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  8. gVOR08 says:

    @whatever:I have my own problems with Hillary, but from my point of view she’s clearly the best qualified person running that can, at this point and barring black swans, actually get nominated. I honestly would have thought that would also be true from James’ point of view. He may like Kasich, he said he voted for Kasich in VA, but he has to see that Kasich is a lost cause. I would love to see James’ reasons for being dead set against Hillary.




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  9. C. Clavin says:

    @MBunge:

    I really don’t think you can directly link him to Trump.

    Even neglecting the re-cycling of Reagan’s slogan, “Make America Great Again; there is the same xenophobia, the same tax cuts for the rich, the same tough talk foreign policy, the same view of the world in black and white, etc.
    But the real DNA is in the broader message that; the answers to our problems are simple, you just need someone like me who is tough enough to implement them.
    Reagan:

    “For many years now, you and I have been shushed like children and told there are no simple answers to the complex problems which are beyond our comprehension…Well, the truth is, there are simple answers—there are not easy ones.”

    “We have to be so strong that no nation in the world will dare lift a hand against us.”

    Tell me that Trump is not channeling Reagan.




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  10. C. Clavin says:

    @gVOR08:

    I would love to see James’ reasons for being dead set against Hillary.

    From the body of the post above:

    More interesting is a TPM report noting that many Republicans, like myself, seriously contemplating voting for Clinton—our least favorite Democrat of the last quarter century—if the alternative is Trump.




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  11. Pch101 says:

    I would think that Reagan lauding “states rights” within a short distance of where three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi was clear enough.




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  12. ig'rant cracker says:

    @gVOR08: I already know them. It’s because her last name is Clinton.




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  13. Gustopher says:

    The party has been rotting from the bottom for quite some time. While mainstream candidates have continued to win the presidential nomination, the school boards, state legislatures, and other lower Republican offices have been going to extremists for a quarter century. That eventually fed to the House. Over the last few cycles, we’re seeing that in the Senate and governorships, too, as the base turned against well respected, reasonable conservatives with decades of experience.

    It would seem that you’re begin into have a larger realization about your party — that voting for someone by default, just because they have an R by their name on the ballot, does not guarantee you will be voting for someone who shares your values. The Republican Party no longer stands for what you think it did.

    I was at the same spot after the Clinton impeachment. I stopped voting for Republicans all together a few years later. I never did vote for Bill Clinton (I don’t remember whether the impeachment was before or after his reelection, but I did not like him, and I was living in NY, so my vote didn’t matter anyway), but the impeachment was a turning point that I could not get past. It was wrong to try to destroy a sitting president over trivialities.




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  14. Scott F. says:

    James –

    If Inglis and you are correct that a Trump nomination will crash the rotting, cranky old GOP into a mountain, what coalitions do you see rising from the wreckage? Is a “reasonable” Republican Party even possible anymore?

    As whatever notes above, the Democratic Establishment has landed firmly in the center (perhaps even right of center) as the Republican extremism you’re describing lurched the Overton window rightward over the last 30 years or so. If the GOP rejects the extremists (or more likely the extremists abandon the GOP), who will the reasonable Republicans join with in order to gain a majority for elections? The build up of extremism in the school boards, state legislatures, lower Republican offices, House, Senate, and governorships has taken decades. It will take just a long to undo, if undo is even feasible.

    It strikes me that the GOP needs the extremists more the extremists need the GOP. I’d appreciate your thoughts on this.




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  15. LaMont says:

    @C. Clavin: I fail to see how any of the Republicans, save Kasich and Paul, differ from Reagan’s quote.




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  16. cian says:

    When it comes to people attaining positions of power, I like them sane. Leaders who understand the world and has its and our best interests at heart. Trump is more of the same madness we’ve seen from the republican establishment since Obama became president, only this time writ incredibly large. For all his hatred towards the ‘other’, he is no threat to the republican status quo. His policies will be their policies (his tax plan looks after the wealthy over the middle class and poor, his health plan is the republican establishment’s plan). The 1% will be looked after and those supporting him will be dumped on, as per usual.

    Whether you like Hillary or not, she is someone who will work for the country and all its citizens. The country will not become the basket case the present republican party would have it be.




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  17. al-Ameda says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Tell me that Trump is not channeling Reagan.

    Trump would love to be channeling Reagan, or convince people that he’s Reagan updated, but he lacks Reagan’s ability to be cool and smooth while appealing to resentful, bitter, and angry white working people. Trump is anything but cool.




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