On Super Duper Tuesday, Hillary Clinton, with her five-state sweep, relegated Bernie Sanders to the ash heap of history, and John Kasich, by winning Ohio, kept hope alive for the Republican Establishment, who lost their boy Marco Rubio in Florida.
Sanders no doubt will continue running on the Democratic side, but he now has reverted to a message candidate, which is how he began, and his hopes of winning the nomination have been crushed.
The most likely scenario going forward is still for Trump to win the Republican nomination outright by racking up 1,237 delegates, but he would have to over-perform in the upcoming contests, including California’s June 7 primary, which may be relevant after all.
If Trump does have a majority of delegates at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, he’ll be the official Republican Party candidate. If not, well, several other intriguing scenarios loom:
Third Party Option: Although it’s unlikely, a Trump triumph could spark a third party option organized by high profile members of the GOP Establishment, including elitist faction leader Bill Kristol, who have vowed to get behind the third party campaign of a mainstream conservative. Such an effort surely would fail, but keeping control of the Congress is a far more important priority for the GOP bigwigs than winning the White House and this would allow the party symbolically to reject the fascism of Trump while giving political cover to incumbent House members, Senators and governors.
But if Trump doesn’t make it to Cleveland with a majority of delegates, and Cruz and Kasich have racked up enough delegates to keep him from a first-ballot victory, all bets are off. Moreover, there will be a bunch of unbound delegates — Rubio’s and others — who will be
for sale in play.
The Ted Option: Cruz would continue to argue that he’s the only conservative Republican who stood up to Trump and has a chance of beating Clinton. What he’d have going for him in Cleveland is that lots of the delegates will be the kind of grass-roots, Bible-thumping, knuckle draggers who have rallied to Cruz. But no one in the GOP hierarchy can stand him. And they don’t really want a die-hard, evangelistic flame-thower at the top of their ticket. Still, despite his smarm and oleaginous personality, Cruz would be a more respectable choice for conservatives than the unpredictable and unstable reality TV big shot.
If Cruz can’t put it together, however, delegates to the RNC – and these will be Republicans, not independents – could well decide on a second, third or fourth ballot, to come to their senses, boot Trump and nominate a ticket with at least a fighting chance to win a general election, while posing a major challenge for Clinton and the Democrats.
The Calbuzz Option: Calbuzz says: The shrewdest move for Republicans would be to nominate Kasich and Rubio, who would be a superb vice presidential attack dog despite getting skunked by Trump in his home state, thus giving the GOP a genuine chance of winning the two most pivotal toss-up states in the nation.
Trump’s supporters would, of course, go nuts. Especially those who hate the Republican Establishment, i.e. all of them, and The Donald might even mount a third party candidacy of his own. The chaos and recriminations would be great spectator sport.
But the GOP regulars running the convention might well be willing to risk it in order to create a ticket that a) would have an outside chance of winning and b) would do less damage to down-ballot Republicans running for U.S. Senate and House and statehouses.
Forget all the conspiratorial talk about a “brokered convention.” Every convention is brokered is some way or another, including who gets picked as a running mate by the presidential nominee. And it would all be within the rules, which party regulars control.
Like Trump, this is rich.