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Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is close to ensuring that Donald Trump cannot win the GOP nomination on a second ballot at the party’s July convention in Cleveland, scooping up scores of delegates who have pledged to vote for him instead of the front-runner if given the chance.
The push by Cruz means that it is more essential than ever for Trump to clinch the nomination by winning a majority of delegates to avoid a contested and drawn-out convention fight, which Trump seems almost certain to lose.
The GOP race now rests on two cliffhangers: Can Trump lock up the nomination before Cleveland? And if not, can Cruz cobble together enough delegates to win a second convention vote if Trump fails in the first?
Trump’s path to amassing the 1,237 delegates he needs to win outright has only gotten narrower after losing to Cruz in Wisconsin and other recent contests, and would require him to perform better in the remaining states than he has to this point.
In addition, based on the delegate selections made by states and territories, Cruz is poised to pick up at least 130 more votes on a second ballot, according to a Washington Post analysis. That tally surpasses 170 delegates under less conservative assumptions — a number that could make it impossible for Trump to emerge victorious.
And here is a warning about what might happen should Trump lose:
- Donald Trump’s campaign just acknowledged something very important about his convention chances.
. . . If you follow the Trump logic, there are only two options: (1) He wins on the first ballot and is the party's nominee, or (2) he loses on the first ballot and does everything he can to cast the process as fixed and non-democratic. Option 1 is a problem because Trump runs badly behind Hillary Clinton, not only in the head-to-head polling matchups but also among key subgroups such as married women. Option 2 may be an even bigger problem because it opens the door to some sort of third-party bid for Trump. Even if Trump doesn't or can't mount a serious independent bid, he would almost certainly be an unhelpful agitator against the Republican nominee (presumably Cruz).
Here's what we know today: Trump is about to have a very good few weeks beginning next Tuesday in New York. He will go into the convention with both the most delegates and the most raw votes. He and his campaign see the first ballot as his one shot to be the nominee. If he doesn't win it on the first ballot, his prospects beyond that are dim. If he doesn't win it on the first ballot, he is laying the groundwork to declare the whole process a fraud.
That paragraph is an absolute nightmare for the Republican establishment. It leaves Trump as either the party's nominee or the disgruntled loser who is already threatening to take his ball (and all of his supporters) and go home if the rules don't work in his favor.