For many in the Republican establishment, it has become a priority to stop Donald Trump’s candidacy. His rhetoric and policies do not align with traditional conservative principles, and his liberal history concerns Republicans in power. Unfortunately for them, however, they are not the voters. The Republican base has continuously showed strong support for Trump over his competition, even as the field has narrowed. Trump has acquired 755 delegates in the primary race (over 60% more than his nearest competitor, Senator Ted Cruz). Furthermore, Trump is showing little signs of slowing down even as he becomes more controversial. He continues to lead Ted Cruz by double digits in nearly all national polls, and is leading most upcoming primaries in initial polling including New York, Pennsylvania, and California by large margins. Trump is rapidly approaching the 1,237 delegate mark where he will be guaranteed the nomination, going on to face the Democratic nominee.
As a result of Trump’s meteoric rise and the extreme mathematical difficulty of stopping him from continuing his lead, the Republican establishment has resorted to the desperate tactic of blocking him from getting to the 1,237 mark. Even if Trump has the most delegates going into the convention, if he does not reach the magic number of 1,237 the convention will become “brokered.” A brokered convention occurs when no candidate comes into the convention with the majority of delegates (in this case 1,237). Since the GOP’s first convention in 1856, there have been a total of 10 brokered conventions. In a remarkable seven of the brokered conventions, the candidate with the most delegates did not come out with the party’s nomination. If Trump does not secure the necessary delegates history will not be on his side to win the nomination, let alone the general election.
In order to force a brokered convention, GOP leaders have put forth an all out effort to cripple Trump’s candidacy. Figures like former nominee Mitt Romney and establishment candidate Jeb Bush have come out aggressively rejecting Trump’s candidacy and his values. Current party leaders like Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan have also condemned Trump for having non-Republican views. Large Super PACs have begun utilizing their budgets not to endorse and assist a candidate, but rather to bash Trump. This massive anti-Trump movement, however, has been largely unsuccessful. Trump and his supporters appear to be fuelled by the resistance, as the primaries have seen a record-high voter turnout for Republicans, most of which are for Trump. Trump has built a strong coalition of Republican moderates, blue collar Democrats, and nationalist extremists, so principled conservative politicians are unlikely to sway this support.
If Trump survives the barrage from the establishment, the anti Trump movement would not have accomplished nothing. This conflict has revealed a serious rift in the Republican party between the populist wing and the conservative wing. Trump is seen as unacceptable to approximately half of Republicans and Trump’s supporters are being alienated as his own party tries to take down his candidacy. It is very possible that the GOP as we know it today will not survive this election cycle as far right politicians in the GOP become alienated by an ever more moderate populus.
(Copyright 2016 Sam Hamway)