There is basically one procedure the Republican establishment could use to stop the Donald Trump train from entering the final destination called nomination. That would obviously mean denying the business mogul the necessary 1,237 delegates to win the nomination this July at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this July.
It is not a sure thing and bound to ruffle many feathers of Trump supporters this election 2016. It faces a very large wall before it is even possible. As the rules presently stand, only a candidate who has the backing of a majority of delegates from eight states can even make it onto the nominating ballot. None of the three final candidates facing Trump are near that number.
Currently only Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is halfway to that target being four shy of the mark. Meanwhile, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has won only Minnesota and Ohio Gov. John Kasich zero states. The eight-state rule virtually negates any new candidate from emerging at this late stage of primary voting to challenge Trump. That means all the political murmurs of a Mitt Romney or Speaker of the House Paul Ryan are a moot point. The eight-state rule has existed since the 2012 election in an effort to stop Libertarian candidate Ron Paul from securing the nomination.
According to University of Georgia political science professor Josh Putnam, an expert on delegate math, “That underscores the idea of making rules for one cycle that are trying to fix the problems of the previous cycle. It’s a recipe for unintended consequences.” In other words, the rule can be changed, but it would surely cause a major rift within the party.
Problems in any change include the fact that Republican delegates are committed to the candidates selected by their state on the first ballot. If Trump has the nomination total of 1,237 delegates going into the convention, the game is over. Trump is a legendary salesman; he wrote “The Art of the Deal.” If the number is a few short of victory, who’s to say he couldn’t convince those delegates to vote for him? The alternative is Trump is short by a significant number and that could spell delegate rebellion.
That will be where the convention sees how the sausage is made. Other candidates aside from Trump who hold a significant number of delegates can bow out before the first ballot and persuade their base of delegates to move to someone other than the New Yorker. The problem with that are the delegates getting behind a specific alternative to Trump and go forward unanimously united. But why would an individual candidate drop out if his campaign strategy feels he can prevail in subsequent ballots?
A second possible scenario is the non-Trump candidates are able to wait until the second ballot if Trump hasn’t already won, freeing up the delegates to vote for whoever they want. The delegates may be pledged to Trump initially, but free from the first ballot on to change their minds. But that also could mean the delegates would then gravitate to Trump as well.
As it presently stands, any alteration to the delegate process could easily split the Republican Party down the middle. Is that something the party elders are prepared to happen?