This tweet by Patrick Ruffini highlights something important, I think:
Only way Kasich is getting on a ticket is as Cruz VP. Doubt Cruz delegates would allow him as Trump VP.
— Patrick Ruffini (@PatrickRuffini) April 24, 2016
…which is to say: Donald Trump will enter the Republican convention this summer as the single weakest primary front-runner in my, or very possibly anybody’s, living memory. He’s certainly the weakest one since we started seriously using primaries as a method for picking Presidential candidates. And I’m not sure if enough people have internalized the implications of this yet.
And there are implications. For example: the way things are going, there will be no point for either Donald Trump or John Kasich to even bother announcing who their Vice Presidential nominee will be (well, there are several good reasons why Kasich shouldn’t bother, but work with me, here). They’d just have to clear it with Ted Cruz, anyway. That’s because, when the dust clears, Donald Trump might – emphasis, might – have a working majority of delegates on the first Presidential ballot. Even in that case, he would not have a working majority of delegates for anything else.
This situation is… unusual. Typically when we get this far there’s a clear winner already, and the party’s major goal in life is to have as smooth a convention as is humanly possible. The GOP’s last brouhaha was in 1976, with neither Gerald Ford nor Ronald Reagan having a majority; the good news for Trump is that he gets to play Gerald Ford, who did end up winning after Ronald Reagan made a bad VP call. The good news for Cruz is that he gets to play Ronald Reagan – and he’s playing a Reagan who will know what will happen if he makes a bad VP call.
So the lead-up to the actual nomination vote promises to be memorable. I don’t know how many of Trump’s and Kasich’s nominal delegates actually love Ted Cruz in their hearts, but based on recent news stories there are a LOT of said delegates who will follow Cruz’s lead. And they are not bound to vote a particular way on Vice Presidential nominations, or a particular way on rules questions that might benefit or harm one specific candidate, or, indeed, on a particular way on whether any state delegation is or is not the legitimate one. Oh, yes, that’s a thing: look up the 1952 Republican convention some time.
Note, by the way, that I am not saying that any or all of these things should be done. In fact, there are things that can be done, but probably should not be done (and yes, I am deliberately not saying what those things are). I am, merely saying that the Republican party is going to have an open convention where the front-runner will have less influence over the larger process than the candidate in second place. This would be fascinating to watch, if it was happening in some other country.
PS: There’s going to be one heck of a battle to see how quickly the first Presidential ballot can take place, I suspect. Actually, we might as well end that sentence after ‘battle.’ There’s going to be a brawl. Possibly a riot. Things might even burn.