Democrats say there’s no need for Hillary Clinton to panic.
Republican insiders overwhelmingly believe this summer’s national convention will require multiple ballots to select the presidential nominee.
That’s according to The POLITICO Caucus — a panel of operatives, activists and strategists in 10 key battleground states — with roughly 90 percent of respondents saying neither Donald Trump nor Ted Cruz will win the nomination on the first ballot in Cleveland.
Cruz’s victory in Wisconsin, where he won 36 of the 42 delegates at stake, narrows Trump’s path to the nomination. Trump’s path is also impaired by his precipitous fall in national polling, which hurts the New York real estate tycoon’s standing among both Republican voters and convention delegates who want to nominate a strong general-election candidate.
“Donald Trump has one chance to win the nomination, and that is on the first ballot. Right now, I put his chances at about 40 percent, and that will require him to get some number of delegates from the unpledged delegates in states like North Dakota, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and a few territories,” said an Iowa Republican, who, like all respondents, completed the survey anonymously.
But while that Iowa Republican sees Trump performing well in upcoming primaries in New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and other Northeastern states later this month, the Republican warned that the map is less favorable in May.
“Of course, he will run up the score in the Northeast and have some April momentum, but there are good states ahead for Cruz as well, such as Indiana, Nebraska, and possibly Washington and Oregon. He’s also dominated the delegate selection process in a whole host of states where they are pledged,” the Iowa Republican added.
Some insiders gave Trump, who needs to win just under 60 percent of the remaining delegates to clinch the nomination outright, an outside chance to win on the first ballot — but only if he overperforms in the upcoming states.
One Florida Republican pointed to the fact Trump’s been outgunned in recent states — including in Wisconsin, where his opponents and anti-Trump groups outspent him by a more than 10-to-1 ratio in television and radio advertising.
“If Trump invests serious money into campaign — paid messaging and infrastructure — he can get there, but he must go for it now,” the Florida Republican said. “Cheap won’t do it.”
A number of Republicans squashed talk that someone other than the three remaining candidates, like House Speaker Paul Ryan, would win the nomination on the convention floor.
“There is no way any candidate heads to Cleveland with 1,237 [delegates],” said a Colorado Republican. “And there is no way someone other than Ted Cruz or Donald Trump walks out of Cleveland with the nomination. Any talk of that is just speculation to fill airtime or wishful thinking among many Republicans.”
Notably, GOP insiders in John Kasich’s home state were more bullish on their governor’s chances at the convention: One Ohio Republican predicted Kasich would win the nomination on the fourth ballot, while another said it would happen on the fifth.
Other GOP insiders worried about both the short- and long-term effects for Republicans of a contested convention, especially if Trump enters Cleveland with the most delegates but is denied the nomination.
“The issue is what this will do to the GOP and those voters who have been attracted to Trump because they feel left behind,” said a Pennsylvania Republican. “The fact is that a contested convention in itself is nothing nefarious, but how it will be portrayed by the media and social media could adversely impact the GOP for years to come.”
“Some of us who were in Kansas City 40 years ago remember a spirited, uncertain start of convention week,” a veteran Iowa Republican added. “Tension and drama? Yes. But there was respect between the Ford and Reagan camps, no talk of skullduggery, and a sense the GOP would leave town united. Oh, for the good ole’ days!”
Democrats: It’s not panic time for Clinton.
Bernie Sanders has won seven of the past eight contests, but Democratic insiders aren’t terribly worried about Hillary Clinton’s condition as she limps closer to clinching the party’s presidential nomination.