The race for the Republican nomination just got even more wild. The two remaining campaigns opposing front runner Donald Trump just announced that they are now working together to defeat him. US Senator Ted Cruz effectively suspended his campaign in New Mexico and Oregon, and Ohio Governor John Kasich did the same in Indiana. Each contender pledged to support their non-Trump opponent in the 3 states in question.
Statements from each campaign announcing the move were released last night “within minutes of each other.” Cruz’s campaign manager, Jeff Roe, said as follows:
‘To ensure that we nominate a Republican who can unify the Republican Party and win in November, our campaign will focus its time and resources in Indiana and in turn clear the path for Gov. Kasich to compete in Oregon and New Mexico, and we would hope that allies of both campaigns would follow our lead.’
Kasich for America chief strategist John Weaver expressed similar sentiments.
‘Our goal is to have an open convention in Cleveland, where we are confident a candidate capable of uniting the Party and winning in November will emerge as the nominee. [W]e will shift our campaign’s resources West and give the Cruz campaign a clear path in Indiana. In turn, we will focus our time and resources in New Mexico and Oregon. We would expect independent third-party groups to do the same and honor the commitments made by the Cruz and Kasich campaigns’.
Neither Cruz nor Kasich has any chance of actually clinching the nomination before the GOP nominating convention in July. What they are seizing upon is what Kasich staffer John Weaver mentioned, namely the possibility of an “open” convention.
In an open convention, a candidate has a plurality but not a majority of delegates on their side. After the first round of voting by the delegates with nobody getting a majority of votes, all previous pledges of support are thrown out. After that, it’s riot time as the campaigns go crazy vying for every last delegate vote. Cruz is favored to win under such circumstances. (Coincidentally, this process totally throws out the entire election cycle, but the GOP bosses seem to not have this weigh into their considerations.)
And an open convention seems to be a very likely occurrence. Kasich and Cruz have reportedly been working on this strategy for some time. Both candidates are poised to do well enough in the upcoming contests to block Trump from a majority of delegates. Trump, on his part, is currently running at about 95% of his required number of delegates’ pledged votes to clinch the nomination. Sure, 95% is close, but to win he needs 100%.
The states that Cruz and Kasich picked to focus on are already leaning towards them. In addition, the states are also well past tomorrow’s primaries in the Northeast, where one analyst predicts Trump will “run over” both of his opponents.
Five Thirty Eight analysts give Cruz a 54% chance of winning Indiana, which votes on May 3, compared to Trump’s 45% chance. Very little polling has been conducted in Oregon and New Mexico, voting on May 17 and June 7, respectively, but Kasich does have a good chance of clinching both states with enough of a win to block Trump’s majority. In the one still-valid poll out of New Mexico, Cruz is one point ahead of Trump and Carson and Rubio are both still in the race. In other words, Trump holds no solid and verifiable lead in either state.
On top of the numbers, as noted by Kasich’s campaign strategist Weaver, both Oregon and New Mexico “are structurally similar to the Northeast politically, where Gov. Kasich is performing well.”
Trump is in trouble and he knows it. He wrote a grammatically messy blog post on his campaign website calling the arrangement what he calls just about everything — “sad.” Honestly, for Trump it may very well be sad, as he is now very much in jeopardy of losing the nomination.
Featured Image Created by the Author, Using Images from Gage Skidmore and Michael Vadon. Skidmore’s images of Trump and Cruz are available under a Creative Commons License, and Vadon’s image of Kasich is under a Creative Commons License as well.