Insiders: 90 percent predict contested GOP convention

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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.

“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.