Ted Cruz is on a winning streak. He is now in firm possession of Wisconsin. All six of the latest polls have Cruz firmly in the lead outside the margin of error.
For the sake of argument, let’s put all 28 North Dakota delegates in Cruz’s corner (since they are). Let’s put all 42 Wisconsin delegates in Cruz’s corner for a sweep (which could happen). Even with Trump getting the winner-take-all delegates from Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, he’s still short.
Even if Trump takes every single delegate in New York, he’s still short. And with Kasich in the race, Trump is unlikely to take all those delegates–Cruz may even win a few. That leaves Trump short.
Unlike real estate deals, there’s no “white knight” or bank to come in and make up the gap. Short is short–even the betting markets have him short.
Trump now <50% to win GOP nomination on betting markets. Close call but I'd be tempted to bet Trump at even odds. https://t.co/qpmkmQfImF
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) April 3, 2016
So what’s Trump’s game plan?
He must know that there’s no way the GOP will twist itself into a Trump nomination, trashing 156 years of delegate rules to coronate him. He must know that if he doesn’t carry 1,237 on the first ballot, he’s in fact finished.
I think he knows that. But I think Trump in no way has given up his run for the presidency. It’s not in his DNA. It’s not in his psychological makeup. Having come this far, Trump is obsessed with winning at all costs.
This is why he won’t commit to keeping his pledge to support the nominee. He doesn’t intend to. It’s why he keeps going back to being “treated unfairly,” which in Trump speak means not getting exactly what he wants even though the rules were known to him from the beginning.
In February, I wrote:
There are only two paths for Trump to win the White House: Through the GOP nomination, or as a third party candidate. No third party candidate has ever won the presidency, so that road would present a lot of risk. But running for the GOP requires Trump to borrow a used dress to become a bride.
If Trump can’t borrow the GOP’s dress, he will go third party. At this point, I’d be willing to put money on it.
The RNC created this system and Reince Preibus will make them live by it. The convention is going to run by the rules. All those pledged delegates Trump enjoys will turn on him if he can’t get the nomination outright. The borrowed dress will go back to its owner.
There’s a rub: No third party candidate for president has ever won the office.
To win, Trump will have to destroy the GOP. He’ll have to make like Sherman marching from Atlanta to the sea and burn down everything on his way. He’ll have to make the GOP appear to be a politically corrupt, back-room-dealing party not interested in “the will of the people.” That’s not hard to do, since the GOP has been essentially doing just that for the past decade.
Trump is a big-picture guy. He sets a general course and lets himself pivot on a dime to make the deal happen. He’s tactical only by the seat of his pants. He lets others handle his logistics.
He has no idea how he’ll get on the ballots in all 50 states. He might have people working on it (surely he does). If he runs into legal troubles, he’ll sue and look for a friendly judge and use the media as a lever.
Kurt Schlichter wrote on Townhall that Trump running third party is “barely a threat.”
Now we just have to convince him to run third party, which is barely a threat because many of his dwindling supporters were probably never going to vote GOP anyway. Plus, he may weaken Hillary more by drawing in a bunch of alienated Bernie dorks, since the Democrats – whose party establishment is actually competent– are gonna shaft them like Richard Roundtree.
We won’t have to convince Trump to run third party, he’ll do it on his own. And I think he’ll do it either at the convention where he can make the most trouble for the GOP (should Preibus allow it), or before, exiting as the front-runner. He will betray all the GOP members who endorsed him and do his best to sink the party.
The true followers–the Branch Trumpidians–will go along with him. Instead of just attacking Cruz, they’ll attack the GOP with the same mind-numbing vitriol we’ve seen. They’ll still call Cruz and Clinton the same names.
I think a third party run is a losing gamble for Trump. I also think he can’t help himself from doing it. It’s too attractive a prize for him to walk away. Trump doesn’t drink alcohol because he knows the terrible price addiction demands–but he’s got a worse addiction, and it won’t let him abandon his run for president until he completely crashes and burns.
But along with him, he plans to take the GOP down. This is why the #NeverTrump movement is so important. It’s why Erick and National Review and all the #NeverTrump leaders wrote it was so important to disclose their views early in the race.
If Trump supporters choose to proceed, history will show what they will never concede — his defeat is on them, not us. With the rise of an authoritarian menace to our republic, it is important to go on record now, while he can be stopped, that we will play no part in his rise.
At this point, it’s likely a matter of time. Trump will go third party, and he will lose. Those who stand with liberty need to move on and set our eyes on keeping our Republic. To those who stick with Trump, we can only offer that we told you so and you will be required to live with the consequences of your choice.