It’s no secret that some in the Republican Party establishment are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of selecting Donald Trump as their nominee for president.
Former Republican nominee Mitt Romney said as much in a speech on Thursday, calling Trump a “phoney” and a “fraud.”
“His is not the temperament of a stable, thoughtful leader. His imagination must not be married to real power,” he said.
But, Trump is currently the leading candidate, with 336 delegates, as of Thursday evening. Everyone else put together has 368.
And as long as Trump doesn’t get a majority of candidates by the time the Republicans open their convention in July, the party still stands a chance of keeping him from being the nominee.
A total of 1,237 delegates are needed to clinch the nomination. Although Trump is leading, only 28 per cent of delegates have been allocated so far.
If he doesn’t hit that 1,237 mark, things will get very interesting for Trump and the other Republicans.
“The idea is if there is not a clear 52 per cent or above winner of the 1,237 required delegates, then it could be a brokered convention,” said Melissa Haussmann, a professor of political science at Carleton University.
This means that the party could be picking a nominee on their convention floor, for the first time since 1976, when Gerald Ford was the ultimate nominee.
Most Republican delegates are bound to a specific candidate, meaning they are obligated to vote for him at the convention – at least on the first ballot. If there is no majority winner on the first ballot, those delegates are free to vote for whoever they want.
That could provide an opportunity for someone other than Trump to become the party’s chosen nominee.
Then again, said Haussmann, they might choose Trump.
“I doubt that there’s too many people in the RNC (Republican National Committee) who think that Cruz could win the general election,” she said. “Rubio, not so likely either. I’m guessing, but probably the thinking on the part of some of them at least that Trump is a winnable candidate in November.”
She imagines that there are “significant discussions” going on in the RNC right now.
It might not come to a decision on the convention floor though, she thinks. There’s still too much up in the air to say for sure.
“Every learned scholar and journalist out there is saying this is really wide open,” she said. “Given that at this point there are only 100 delegates separating each of Trump, Cruz and Rubio, the jury is really out.”
“We’ll have a much better sense after March 15, obviously, because more than half the delegates will have been awarded by then. So we’ll know if someone has a clear 52 per cent majority. But until March 15, it’s just guesswork really.”
With files from the Associated Press