Donald Trump’s Indiana win brought great clarity to a race that had been one of the muddiest I’ve ever seen. He thrashed Ted Cruz 53 percent to 36 percent. The voters made their voices known, and chose the billionaire over the constitutional attorney–but something is bubbling underneath all of this.
Almost immediately after Ted Cruz bowed out of the race, there were calls for a third-party candidate, or a conservative revolution. Senator Ben Sasse penned an open letter calling for a third-party candidate, listing the qualities such a candidate should possess, and even Senator Lindsey Graham said he will not support Trump in the general election. They’re not the only ones.
Rep. Justin Amash pinned a tweet to the top of his Twitter account at 10:55 p.m. on May 3, shorty after Cruz suspended his campaign. It simply says “Soon.” As an extremely outspoken opponent of Trump, some are speculating that he’s involved in the push for an alternate candidate.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 4, 2016
In electing Donald Trump, the voters affiliated with the Republican Party have decided to give up the mantle of conservatism, and officially become a populist party. These voters aren’t necessarily concerned with what’s constitutionally conservative, they’re more interested in general strength, unrestricted by the chains of our founding documents.
With Cruz and Kasich ceding the election to Trump, he’s become the presumptive nominee. However, we must note the word “presumptive.” Trump has yet to reach the number of delegates necessary to win. In order to clinch the nomination without a fight, he must receive a majority (1,237 delegates) on the first ballot.
Nine states have yet to vote. Nebraska, West Virginia, Oregon, Washington, South Dakota, New Mexico, New Jersey, Montana, and the big kahuna, California. Though Trump is favored to win in many of these states, many are also very favorable to Ted Cruz .
There’s an idea floating around that because of Cruz and Kasich suspending their campaigns, Trump supporters will not feel the need to go out and cast their vote in the remaining states. If this were to happen–on even a relatively small scale–Trump could lose delegates that, in a primary with competitors, he would handily win. The lack of pressure on Trump and his supporters could lead to these last nine states having an outsized impact.
Herb Jackson of North Jersey wrote the following in a piece published May 6:
“Sen. Ted Cruz may have surrendered the battle for the Republican presidential nomination, but some of his troops in New Jersey are not ready to lay down their arms…[They’re] saying they will not support Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee. Some are going even further and promising to keep campaigning for Cruz, of Texas, whose name, like Kasich’s, will still be on New Jersey’s June 7 primary ballot despite his withdrawal from the race this week.”
The outcry from conservatives when Cruz left the race was practically audible, and it’s unlikely many of his supporters who have worked tirelessly in the remaining nine primary states will simply sit down without a fight. Their candidate may have stepped back, but they’re stepping up.
There are several potential outcomes here–and don’t dismiss these out of hand, because as we’ve already seen, this is a weird election year:
- Everything stays the same. The voting outcomes will be what they would have been had Cruz and Kasich not dropped out of the race.
- Cruz and Kasich voters stay home, because why vote for a candidate who suspended their campaign?
- Trump voters stay home because they see no reason to vote for someone they believe has already won. Meanwhile, Cruz voters stay energized, and pull a coup.
If the third possibility becomes reality, Donald Trump could get to the convention with fewer than 1,237 delegates. If this were to occur, considering how many delegates are active supporters of Ted Cruz , a second vote could see delegates turning from Trump to Cruz.
The chances of such a twist are slim, but it’s certainly possible in a year in which the presumptive nominee has the highest negatives of a presidential front-runner since 1984, according to a recent CBS/NYT poll that has Trump’s net favorability/unfavorability number at -33 (12 points lower than Hillary Clinton).
This isn’t over yet.