Quick Review of the RNC in CLE: Trump Can’t Deescalate.

It’s been a few days since the Republican National Convention. One glaring fact shined through the rest: Donald Trump cannot deescalate anything. Ever.

Plagiarism: Melania Trump made headlines when several parts of her speech were found to be very similar to Michelle Obama’s speech from earlier campaigns. The issue here isn’t the plagiarism. That’s a minor blip. She isn’t running for office. It should have been caught, but… meh. The bigger story is once again, the Trump camp’s inability to let embarrassing things die off quickly. If they had simply acknowledged what they eventually had to admit from the beginning, this would not have dominated the news cycle for a full day. Instead they denied and lied about the speech. Then they finally offered an apology letter from a speech writer about the lifted bits.

Time and time again, we can see evidence of how a Trump administration will handle criticism. And how they will conduct themselves when they are embarrassed or found to be in the wrong.

Heavy Handed Tactics: A campaign that once proclaimed they were not part of the GOP establishment use the GOPe to crush all opposition at the convention. From the Rules Committee to the Roll Call vote, the RNC pressured and strong armed it’s way to a “unified” convention. Some delegates did in fact attempt to revolt. They were stopped cold. Regarding the Roll Call vote, if the RNC had not hidden from the petitions and then pressured states to withdraw them, if they had just let the roll call happen the party would have been stronger for it. There is no chance that Trump would not have been the nominee. There was no one else nominated. There was no one waiting in the wings. They could have let the roll call happen, nominated Trump, and then moved forward.

Instead of allowing delegates their voice, they crushed all opposition. They alienated delegates, who are in fact voters who care enough to volunteer for the GOP. Not the people you want angry going into the general election.

The Cruz Setup: The controversy surrounding Senator Ted Cruz had nothing to do with what he said, but only what he did not say. Cruz delivered a powerful, solid speech about America and freedom. He reiterated the values that conservatives espouse. Although he congratulated Trump by name, outlined why we cannot vote for Clinton, and encouraged everyone to get out an vote in November, he did not say the magic words, “I endorse…”

The speech, taken by itself, is not controversial. But when Cruz said that Republicans should “vote their conscience” up and down the ticket, right on cue, people in yellow hats began chanting for Trump, and they whipped the crowd into a frenzy of booing as the Senator finished his speech. As Cruz was wrapping up his prepared remarks, Trump entered the crowd. Immediately following the speech Trump surrogates were describing Cruz’s speech as political suicide. Many saying he should have stayed away, and some saying he broke his pledge to support the GOP nominee. Trump himself criticized Cruz and threatened to form a super PAC to run someone against Cruz when he is up for reelection.

This is the sort of reaction you would expect if Cruz had deviated from his prepared marks, and said something unexpected. Cruz told Trump he would not endorse him when he was asked to speak. Cruz submitted his speech long before the event, and the text was given to press 2 hours before he took the stage. He did not say anything that was unexpected. In fact, the Trump campaign and the RNC planned the booing and chanting based off of Cruz’s remarks.

In an alternate reality, let’s imagine Trump did not set up Cruz like this. He lets him speak. He doesn’t incite booing. When it’s over Newt Gingrich does just what he did and says that Republicans who want to vote their conscience have to vote for Trump. This would be a minor blip on the news, and the convention rolls on. But again, Trump cannot bear any slight. He will brook no opposition. He must break Cruz because Cruz will not bend. So he tries to embarrass him, and then releases his talking heads to attack Cruz. Trump even brought up the stupid Kennedy assassination stuff again.

Will this hurt Cruz? I doubt it. Ben Shapiro claims that Cruz was invited to speak during Prime Time at the convention as a result of a deal Trump made with him. Trump asked Cruz not to encourage his delegates to revolt. Cruz agreed, on the condition he could speak, and not explicitly endorse the nominee. Make no mistake, this was a political gamble by Cruz. He probably never expected Trump to conspire with the RNC to embarrass him on the platform. But was it really political suicide? Will voters remember this?

Probably not. Take the pledge; people have already forgotten that all 3 of the last GOP primary candidates backed off the pledge last March. Trump himself said that he didn’t need Cruz’s support. And that Cruz shouldn’t do anything that made him uncomfortable. For anyone to expect the average voter to remember this in 2018 or 2020… I don’t know. On the plus side, if Trump loses- or if he wins and is terrible- Cruz will be the guy that didn’t endorse him.

With Cruz, like so many things, all Trump had to do was let things play out and move on. Instead he turned the whole thing into a showcase of a party division.

This convention shows again that Trump does not have the temperament to be president. He’s petty and vindictive. He will put his own desires over the greater good. Unfortunately, Clinton isn’t a better alternative. And there’s no viable 3rd party candidate running.

#NeverTrump vs #Trumpertantrum: 2016 General Election Concerns and Math

This weekend Ted Cruz swept all of the delegates in Colorado. This led to Donald Trump complaining that voters were being cheated, and that the whole system is corrupt, and rigged. He’s right. It is actually rigged, to favor the frontrunner. Even though Trump has won just 37% of the vote, he has claimed 45% of the delegates awarded, so far. That’s after Cruz swept Colorado. I find it odd that Trump’s campaign didn’t care about the delegate process in Colorado, which has been planned this way for a long time, until after he lost all delegates there. To be clear, Colorado Republicans did vote, just not the way the rest of America did. Frankly, this faux outrage is just sour grapes after Trump’s campaign made some major mistakes in the process there.

There are 16 states left in the GOP primary. Trump has secured 37% of the vote in the previous primaries. In order to win the nomination airtight, he must win 1237 delegates. There are 854 delegates remaining. Trump must win 494 to secure the nomination before the convention. Otherwise it’s a contested convention and many think Trump will not emerge the nominee.

But as we continue through this contentious primary, more and more people seem to be hinting that if Trump is not the nominee at the convention, they will walk from the GOP. That’s very similar to the #NeverTrump movement, who say that if Trump is the nominee, they will not vote for him. It looks like no matter what happens some group won’t support the GOP nominee. Whether it’s caused by a massive #trumpertantrum or people who are #nevertrump, it’s becoming clear that the eventual nominee won’t have the support of the entire GOP primary voting body.

That sounds bad. I’ve been #NeverTrump since before there was a hashtag. But this doesn’t look good for the general election: Either Trump’s gonna take his millions of voters and go home if the nomination is stolen from him or millions of #NeverTrump-ers will never vote for Trump if he is the nominee. How can we hope to win the general election.

Let’s look at the math.

#Trumpertantrum:

To date, Trump, who has earned just over 8 million votes so far, has just 13.3% of the number of votes that Romney earned in his failed bid, in the 2012 general election. 13.5% of what McCain received in 2008. Only 12.9% of what Bush received in 2004, where he won. 16% of Bush’s 2000 presidential win. (Where he lost the popular vote, but won the electoral college)

8 million votes is a big number, more than any other 2016 GOP primary candidate, so far. But that is a small percentage of the overall general election votes. And, if the GOP turnout continues to be as large as it has been in the primaries, we should see more GOP voters than the last several elections have seen. Frankly, most of them won’t care about the primary. I used to be one of those voters, I rarely voted in the primary, but always voted in the general. This primary has brought more people into the action, but there are tens of millions more GOP voters who have not participated.

If all of Trump’s voters walked, it would be a blow, but one that could be overcome in the general election. But according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, Only 35% of his voters would walk. 2/3 would still vote for a brokered candidate. Based on current numbers, a non-Trump GOP candidate would lose 2.8 million votes in the general election. Not all 8 million. Obviously these numbers will change as the rest of the primaries are held, but the percentages will likely stay the same. A Trump campaign that is defeated at a brokered convention will take about 1/3 of his votes with him. Votes that probably won’t switch over to the Democrat candidate.

Losing a third of Trump’s voters in the general election will hurt, but it doesn’t have to be a death blow to the general election chances of the GOP. If the Democrats field an unpopular candidate like Hillary Clinton, GOP voter turnout should outpace Democrat turnout. Unless the GOP also fields an unpopular candidate. More on that later.

#NeverTrump

Compare Trump’s 1/3 walk away votes with polls showing that a full 35% of Republican primary voters won’t vote for Trump in the general. That isn’t 35% of Cruz supporters, that’s 35% of all Republican voters. #NeverTrump isn’t just Cruz supporters. Members of #NeverTrump come from the 63% of primary voters who did not vote for Trump. If that percentage holds, half of Republican voters in the GOP primary who didn’t vote Trump won’t support Trump as the eventual nominee.

There have been 22 million votes cast in Republican primaries this year, so far. More will follow as the rest of the Primaries happen. If 35% of those Republicans follow through with their claim of #Nevertrump, that is a much bigger number that the third of Trump’s 8 million voters. At this point, it’s more than 7.7 million GOP voters that will not vote for Trump. If the percentage of #NeverTrump holds, that number will grow.

Is that the death knell for a Trump presidential bid? Not necessarily, but with Trump’s growing unfavorable ratings it doesn’t look good. If 35% of your base will not vote for you, and your unfavorable numbers are far below your opponent’s (10 point difference), it becomes very hard to get out enough votes to win in the general election.

Nominating Donald Trump almost certainly hands the general election to Hillary Clinton. And, if the #NeverTrump people choose to not vote at all, it harms other GOP candidates down the ballot.

Nominating Ted Cruz will alienate some Trump supporters, but in the end, the deficit is much smaller. Plus, Cruz has actually beaten Clinton in some polls about the General election. Cruz currently trails by 2.5 in this Real Clear politics average, while Trump trails by over 10 points. Obviously, things will change during the general election cycle, but a Cruz nomination has much less to overcome than a Trump nomination going into the general election.

A #trumpertantrum walkout of Trump supporters is much better than a #NeverTrump revolt against the GOP nominee.

How to Have a Brokered GOP Convention and Not Destroy the GOP

I have written, that I don’t care if the GOP stays around or not. I still don’t. I know some want to keep it, and if it continues and returns to nominating conservatives, I’ll continue to vote for GOP candidates.

But there is a lot of talk about stopping Trump through a brokered convention. As we sift through the remains of last night’s primary elections it is clear that only 2 candidates could possibly make it to the magic number of delegates to secure a nomination before the GOP Convention. But neither of them are considered GOPe candidates.

It’s possible for both Cruz and Trump to make it to the convention without the nomination. It’s harder for Cruz to get the delegates. That is especially true if John Kasich stays in the race for much longer. It is impossible for Kasich to win enough delegates to secure the nomination before the convention. The only reason for him to stay in the race is the hope that somehow he leaves the convention with the nomination after a deal is brokered. That would be a bad idea for the GOP.

The only way a GOP exists after a brokered convention is if the nominee that comes out of there was one of the 2 who had a shot to get the nomination if the others had dropped out.

The way the convention works, the delegates that are generally pledged to each candidate must vote for their candidate on the first ballot. If no nominee is selected, they are free to change their vote in later ballots. If you want a GOP to exist after the convention, Trump and Cruz delegates should keep voting for their candidate. The delegates that are pledged to the candidates that have no path to the nominations, the ones that should have dropped out, those are the ones that should be allowed to change their vote. Any other scenario will have Cruz or Trump voters crying foul.

Rule 40(b)

In 2012 the GOP added a rule that basically says any nominee must win 8 states in the primary process to be considered the nominee. As I understand it, that was added to make sure Ron Paul didn’t have a shot in 2012. That rule, if allowed to stay, would insure that all the delegates from the suspended campaigns would be free to vote for one of the two remaining campaigns… not for Kasich if he is still in the race. Some say that this rule will be removed before the vote. But who knows. If allowed to stay, and interpreted strictly, it would mean that Kasich could not be the nominee, and any delegates for the other candidates can vote for any candidate with more than 8 state wins; Trump or Cruz.

If Rule 40(b) is struck down, and anyone but Cruz or Trump emerges as the GOP nominee, the Republican party is finished. It will fracture and split. That may not be a bad thing in the long run. But if Republicans want to exist beyond this election cycle, the only way to do it is select from Trump or Cruz in a brokered convention.

But maybe one of them will get the 1237 delegates secured by then, and a brokered convention won’t happen.

I don’t Care About the GOPe or the GOP

This morning someone told me I was dumb for thinking a vote for Cruz was not a vote for the Republican “Establishment”.

I could not care less about the GOP Establishment, or the GOP at all.

The Republican Party is a vehicle for candidates that hold my conservative views. Period. If it stops being an effective vehicle I will look for candidates that hold those views elsewhere.

People, myself included, are annoyed with the GOP and the “establishment” for foisting candidates upon us that are actually not conservative. They do not work toward limited government, but instead are a part of the Washington system that doesn’t actually accomplish anything conservative. At best the establishment slows down the march of progressive left political will.

What exactly is the GOPe? It’s this nebulous group of people that provide leadership to the GOP. It’s not a defined group, it’s just a useful generalization. People aren’t actually members. But if you are in leadership in the Republican party and you think Romney and McCain were good candidates, you probably are a member of the establishment.

I don’t care about the GOPe. Look, I voted for McCain and Romney. I have accepted establishment Republican candidates as the lesser of two evils at the voting booth for a long time now. But the GOP or the GOPe mean very little to me. I wanted conservatives to have a new party back when Romney was running. I hoped the Tea Party would become that political party, but it got sucked into the GOP. Political parties in general, mean little to me. They are just a mechanism to vote for candidates that I like, or at least dislike less than others. I do not like the 2 party system we have. But since we have it, I participate as best I can. I vote for the candidate that will do the least harm and might lead us back toward more limited government.

This election cycle, the frustration over the GOPe has boiled over. Now people want a candidate that isn’t a part of it. Although he was very liberal before, and admits to being a part of the establishment until he decided to run for office, Donald Trump has emerged at the poster child for anti-establishment voters. Now, like this morning, when any who is annoyed with the GOP says they plan to vote for anyone else, the Trumpkins lash out. How stupid can we be? Don’t we know that every other candidate is part of the GOPe?

What they are saying is that I (a conservative) should only vote for a blow hard, blustering buffoon who cannot articulate even simple policy positions in most cases, and who when he does actually state a position clearly he flips on it within 24 hours, who thinks insults are the way to defeat his opponents, who has a history of supporting liberal Democrats and leftist positions, who admits he personally takes advantage of laws that are bad for the USA, who literally holds positions based on poll numbers, who has promised to open up libel laws so he can sue people who criticize him, who has promised to expand laws so that he can order the US Military to kill women and children who are related to terrorists, who embodies values and behavior that I would never want in any elected official much less the President of the USA… I should vote for him because he is the only candidate who is not controlled by the GOPe.

I don’t care who is or isn’t a GOPe favorite.

I will never vote for Donald Trump for any elected office, Ever. I will never vote for Hillary Clinton, either. Before you say a vote for someone else is a vote for Clinton, let me stop you. It’s not. It’s a vote for someone else. If enough people vote for someone else, that person gets elected. If Clinton does get elected, which she undoubtedly would in a general election versus Trump, at least then we know what we are going to get. She is a known factor. A bad one, but we know her. We don’t know Trump. He has changed his views so often I can’t be sure he has any core values… except to do things that benefit him and post crazy stuff on twitter.

So, no. I won’t vote for Trump. I will vote for the candidate that will do the least harm. If that is a GOPe candidate, fine. If that is someone else, fine. I will not vote for Trump to stop the GOPe because I don’t care about them. If the GOP puts up Trump as the nominee, I won’t vote GOP in the election. And I won’t consider myself a part of the GOP until such time as it dies off and is replaced, or comes to its senses and started nominating conservatives again.

There are rumblings about the GOPe conspiring to steal the nomination from Donald Trump at the Republican convention. The rules are pretty clear. If no candidate has the needed number of delegates prior to the convention, during the gathering they will do multiple delegate votes until a nominee is selected. If Trump has the most delegates, but not enough to secure the nomination, some fear that this will shatter the Republican party if he is not the nominee. Assuming the rules are followed, the candidates enter this process knowing that this could be the outcome. I’m not a fan of ignoring the votes of individuals in a brokered convention. I’d rather see voters select a conservative candidate before the convention. But if the GOP comes out of the convention with Trump as the nominee, no matter how that happens, I won’t be joining them in support of Trump.

I don’t want to save the GOP. I don’t care if the GOP splinters. I don’t care if a new party rises from the ashes of the GOP. I will vote for the candidate that is most likely to return us to a limited government. One who is actually a conservative, and will do the least harm to our nation. I will not place party over principle.