There’s no way to put a good face on it: Tuesday night’s loss in Wisconsin was a significant blow to the Donald Trump campaign. While Trump is still the only candidate with a realistic chance of hitting the magic number of 1,237 delegates before the convention, his odds of getting there just got a lot smaller. Ted Cruz’s victory didn’t make the Texas senator’s path to the nomination much more reasonable, but it did make an open convention much more likely. For many in the party, that’s good enough.
Cruz was rightfully excited about his win, telling supporters that Wisconsin marked a “turning point” in the campaign. But momentum shouldn’t be confused with math. It would take a miracle for Cruz to lock it up before Cleveland; we would have to see a monumental shift in the race for him to even move past Trump, much less get to 1,237.
Which leaves us at an important question: If Trump goes into Cleveland without the required delegates, does the Republican Party have any obligation to award him the nomination? According to a new McClatchy-Marist poll, 52% of Republicans and right-leaning independents think they do. They believe that if Trump goes into the convention with the majority of the delegates, he should walk out as the nominee.
But if we make predictions based on what we’ve heard from inside the party, the establishment does not feel the same way. “Lose with Cruz” has become a mantra among some Republicans who feel that it would be a bigger disaster to nominate Trump than to lose the election to Hillary Clinton. Many of them, indeed, don’t see it as much of a choice; they believe that either way – Cruz or Trump – the White House is going to stay with the Democrats.
It is…unbelievably sad to see this kind of fatalism in a year where Republican voters are more excited than they have been in years. The energy on our side – as demonstrated by primary turnout – makes the Democratic race look like a funeral. But instead of embracing the electricity, Republicans have done everything possible to extinguish the fire.
For conservatives, the name of the game should be defeating the Democrats. Period. It shouldn’t be about going to war with Donald Trump because he doesn’t perfectly embody the ideology. We are missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime, and the consequences – another four years of executive liberalism – will be disastrous.