Donald Trump vs. The Republican Party. Brokered Convention: Curse or Blessing for the Republican Party?
By: Meaghan McFall Gorman**
This past week I was fortunate enough to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C. with several other college students. One of the largest conferences held annually, it was especially well-attended this year due to the looming presidential elections.
At the conference Republican Presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, and Donald Trump were scheduled to speak. Cruz, Kasich, and Rubio gave the typical campaign trail speech, with calls for action, promises of significant reform, improvement, and a general sense of hope for the future. Ben Carson announced he was no longer running for nomination.
Even more news-worthy however — Donald Trump rescheduled, and then ultimately cancelled his appearance. At the conference there was some confusion as to the reason why, and while Trump released an explanation stating that he needed to be campaigning in-person at key primary states, the real reason was revealed later on.
At the Conservative Political Action Conference, a Walk Out had been organized to take place at Trump’s speech. This had actually occurred the year prior, only the victim was Jeb Bush, and the effects were scarring in that the video of that Walk Out was actually used by the media months later while he was campaigning for president.
A walk out is therefore quite serious, and while it may seem petty, it demonstrates a real resentment and genuine dislike for a candidate. Donald Trump was supposedly the golden child of the Republican Party – or at least that was the misconception.
Trump: Leaving an Empty Stage at CPAC 2016
While attending this conference, at any mention of Donald Trump, outbursts of booing and heckling would erupt from the audience. Keeping in mind the haunting whispers of a potential Brokered Convention, Donald Trumps’ divisive popularity is all the more important.
To explain, a Brokered Convention takes place when no one candidate has secured the necessary amount of delegate votes to earn the Presidential nomination, and instead one of the candidates must be chosen through a process of re-voting (think of it as a do over, where all the states are able to recast their Delegate vote in hopes that people have changed their minds and a clear winner will be revealed).
However, at these conventions Vote Trading takes place also, and as the name would imply, it is not overly Democratic. The danger here is that no clear winner is proclaimed, or that the establishment will use its power to manipulate the re-vote process through vote trading to ensure that a candidate of its choice is given the nomination.
That is where Donald Trumps’ failure to win the heart of the Republican Party comes into play. A majority of Republicans seem to not like Donald Trump, and yet, he is leading in many polls.
So what is the Republican Party to do? Tactically, they must damage him in some way, and take him down a few pegs to decrease his popularity and demonstrate how another candidate would be a better choice. The dilemma is that in order to do this, another Republican figure must take it upon themselves to damage Trump – and essentially commit political suicide.
Despite his lack of popularity with the political establishment, Donald Trump has a substantial political backing from the general American populace. Any candidate that attacked Trump seriously would lose his voting base, and be woefully behind the Democratic Party nominee whoever they may be.
That is potentially why former Presidential nominee Mitt Romney spoke out against Donald Trump this past week; as a former candidate, one who held a large voting populace, Mitt Romney has some political favor still, even though he is out of the lime light for the current primaries.
Donald Trump fought back against Romney in his usual fashion, but the damage is done, and the Republican Party has officially begun a dauntless war to stop Trump.
Overall, should the nominee selection be brought to a Brokered Convention, Donald Trump would (based on delegate votes) more than likely be the technical choice.
However, he is clearly not wanted. His utter lack of political experience and exorbitant ability to alienate and estrange people will not win him many swing voters.
That is what the Republican Party needs to achieve their ultimate goal of re-gaining the White House. They will compromise at nothing to ensure they have the greatest chance possible at the Presidency, and a little Vote Trading at a Brokered Convention does not intimidate them at all.
After all, as Frank Underwood said, “If you don’t like how the table is set, turn over the table”.
** Entry for the student competition Elections 2016. The views on this piece do not necessarily reflect those of the Department or the University.