WASHINGTON, March 29, 2016 – The battleground for the Republican presidential nomination may be a major war that delegate leader Donald Trump may lose, according to history. Even though the front runner has millions of votes and several hundred convention delegates in his back pocket.
Unfortunately for Trump, and according to the Washington Times, historically, the delegate leader heading into a brokered convention has never secured the White House and in most cases has even been denied the party nomination.
Trump, who has thrown the party establishment candidates out of the ring and upset the political odds- makers’ predictions, may indeed be heading down uncharted political waters. Cleveland is ground zero, and with the establishment big guns aimed at his path to the nomination, even Trump’s campaign is realizing the Herculean challenge to lock down the nomination outright.
The Trump card that the Donald may be relying on may be found in the Republican presidential nomination battle fought in 1860, where Abraham Lincoln secured the nomination in a brokered convention.
Of course he went on to win the presidency and the rest is history.
This scenario actually fits Kasich and not Trump. According to convention history, seven of the brokered GOP conventions ended with the one with the most delegates being denied the nomination.
Fifty percent of the time the eventual nomination went to the candidate, like Kasich, who had the least delegates. Looks like the Ohio governor has been reading up on his history.
Case in point: Lincoln was one of the candidates with the least delegates at the start of the 1860 convention and went on to win the convention nomination.
At seven of those brokered conventions, the candidate who arrived with the most delegates did not win the nomination. Half the time, the nomination went to the candidate who had the fewest delegates.
On the other hand, in the age of social media, 24-hour news cycles and a presidential race that has witnessed new political lows, not seen in over a century or more, all the rules may be irrelevant.
What is relevant for the moment is that, according to convention rules, the winning candidate has to secure at least 1,237 delegates of the total 2,472 delegates at the convention to win the nomination.
Trump, who is in the delegate lead by a few hundred over his nearest serious competitor, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and possibly feeling the anti-Trump movement heat, is now threatening litigation if he is denied the nomination.
Establishment GOP leaders and of course the Cruz and Kasich camps are saying, “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades” and not in nomination of a presidential candidate.
Trump must begin to make the case for the secured as well as the unsecured delegates right now and not wait until the convention. As Trump is finding out with the potential loss of several delegates in Louisiana to Cruz, winning the state is only the first step in winning the eventual delegates.
Having been a national convention delegate to several presidential conventions, it is advisable that the Trump forces read and understand each of the state’s delegate selection rules and make certain the campaign has delegate representation on the convention rules committee, like yesterday.
Also, Trump should remember the art of the deal with presidential convention delegates is not based upon celebrity as much as upon state party inner workings. The ground game is crucial now because the delegates will be selected beginning at their county or congressional district conventions and then eventually voted on at the state conventions.
A Trump charm offensive that begins at the convention is a losing proposition. So he has to anticipate that he will be shy of the 1,237 needed and plan accordingly. Even if he wins New York, California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and others, he could still fall short, if Cruz and Kasich continue to pick up delegates or states.
Trump may break the more than a century and a half spell on delegate leaders heading into a potentially brokered convention to win the nomination and the presidency. After all, he has proven that he understands the art of the deal so far.