Is Trump done? Not at all. He only needs to secure on the first ballot 482 of the remaining 798 delegates outstanding. That is about 60% of the remainder, though, so he’d have to do much better going forward than he has so far. And that is much more difficult for him to do because there’s only three in the race, now, and Trump has made himself ever more toxic to everyone but his core supporters.
Cruz, meanwhile, has the nearly impossible task of getting about 90% of the remaining delegates to secure a first ballot nomination – anything can happen in politics, but it is almost a certainty that Cruz won’t be able to do that. But that, at any rate, doesn’t seem to be Cruz’ plan right now – the reason he’s working hard at getting his people into the delegations to the Convention is he figures (a) he can’t get a first ballot majority and (b) neither can Trump. Many of Cruz’ people will have to vote Trump on the first ballot but after that, it’s pretty much anything goes…but as these people were selected with massive input from Cruz, it is highly unlikely they’ll go for anyone other than Cruz, unless the convention deadlocks after multiple ballots are taken. Then Cruz backers might start looking around for a non-Trump, non-Establishment alternative. Of course, Cruz also has to worry not just about how Trump does, but how Kasich does…if Trump plus Kasich equals “nominating majority”, then Kasich might well throw his support to Trump, putting him over the top. Whatever amount Trump falls short, it will be vital to Cruz to make sure he falls farther short than whatever Kasich has.
It occurred to me today that as well as securing himself friendly 2nd ballot delegates, Cruz may also be making a play to take over the Party. Remember, regardless of who they are pledged to vote for on the first ballot, Cruz-backing delegates will be voting on the rules for the Convention. If Cruz gets enough of his people in there, then Cruz sets the agenda for the Convention. And given how diligent Cruz has been at this nuts-and-bolts stuff, I’d be shocked if among his selected delegates there aren’t people who have mastered the rules of parliamentary procedure. People who know that stuff can tie things up in knots, and untie them just as swiftly…while those who don’t know the rules won’t know what hit them. Given that Trump has proven himself manifestly ignorant of the nuts-and-bolts of politics, I’d expect the Convention to steamroller Trump…and, also, go a long way towards making sure Establishment types don’t parachute someone else into the nomination.
I have to admit to being ever more impressed with Cruz. I’ve always admired his firm stance on Constitutional government, but he’s also showing rare ability to just work the system – set up, it must be said, by people who despise him and wanted to precisely keep out people like him – to his advantage. He prepares. He studies. He does the mind-numbingly boring stuff it takes to get things done. Of course, he can’t do it alone so he must have hired some really cracker jack people to help him out. Given the towering unpopularity of Hillary and her massively dispirited base, I’m starting to think that Cruz might be able to make mince meat out of her in the fall. We’ll have to see – and, of course, it is not even remotely certain that Cruz will prevail in Cleveland. Lot of politics to go through before we get there.
Bernie is, however, done – he never was other than done, anyway. The Democrat Party has determined that Hillary will be the nominee. Lot of factors probably playing to that. Not least is the fact that the party it honeycombed with Hillary loyalists…but it is more than that. It is her “turn”, you see? Democrats really think like that – not all of them, but enough to grind it out. But it is still remarkable that Hillary has yet to put Sanders down. I suspect it will be end of April, start of May before she manages it…and then only with the sort of chicanery which often gives her as many delegates from a State as Sanders gets, even when he blows her out among the voters.