By Sal Bommarito
Today is a big day for Republican primaries. Florida (99 delegates), Illinois (182), Missouri (84) North Carolina (121) and Ohio (159) voters will be going to the polls. Florida and Ohio are most important for the candidates because they are winner take all contests, while the others allot delegates proportionately in line with the percent of voters won by each candidate.
Florida is the home state of Marco Rubio. Most people believe he will suspend his campaign if he is unsuccessful. Current polls have Rubio about 17-25 percentage points behind Donald Trump. Yet, many talking heads are saying the polls are not reflective of the sentiment in Florida and the support of Rubio (could just be wishful thinking).
Ohio is the home state of John Kasich. He has announced that he will drop out of the race if he does not win the primary. Current polls have Kasich 0-6 percentage points ahead of Trump.
Because the other states will award delegates proportionately, the candidates will not increase or decrease their relative position significantly. However, if Trump continues to collect delegates (as either a first or second place finisher), he will soon reach the 1,237 delegates necessary to lock up the nomination. The winner take all states have a much more dramatic impact on the race.
Rubio and Kasich know that victories today will not enable them to attain the delegates needed to win the nomination. Instead, they are hoping to prevent Trump from achieving a majority. As has been widely reported, this will result in a brokered convention, meaning that most delegates will be able to vote for anyone they wish after the first ballot.
Many are saying that the current backlash against Donald Trump might cause a meaningful number of delegates to support other candidates in subsequent ballots. Similarly, Cruz’s position would be weak because he is not a favorite of the party establishment, many of whom are delegates or would be influencing them.
The hope of an increasing group of Republicans is that Kasich will be selected in a brokered convention over Trump and Cruz. Other possibilities include Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney.
The situation will become very complicated if the convention is brokered. For one thing, Donald Trump may feel that the Republican establishment is stealing the nomination away from him. For sure, he will think he is deserving of it because he will likely have the most delegates in the first ballot. If this comes to pass, Trump could run as an independent. This would thwart the Republican nominee because Trump will draw Republican voters in the probable matchup with Hillary Clinton.
Kasich would be a logical choice, but Ryan and Romney could also have a lot of support. Frankly, being Speaker of the House is not the ideal position to be in if you have presidential aspirations; one makes a lot of enemies in this role. Therefore, Ryan may be interested if the convention solicits him.
Romney could be a sentimental choice. Perhaps Republicans can be convinced that he learned from his unsuccessful and disappointing campaign in 2012. Romney certainly has done his part to discourage Republicans away from Trump during this election cycle.
Before any of you anti-Trump fans get too excited, the odds of this all happening are not great. In fact, if Trump wins Florida and Ohio, we should wheel in the fat lady to sing; it will be over. If Kasich wins in Ohio and Rubio loses to Trump in Florida, there would still be a glimmer of hope that Trump would not reach the 1,237 number.
The important thing to remember is that Trump’s demeanor and aggressive behavior appears to be coming home to roost. He cannot even conduct a rally without violence perpetrated by radical right and left wing provocateurs. Some are beginning to understand that Trump’s version of politics is too extreme for America.