At an open convention, pandemonium will reign — and all bets are off then.
As the Republican primary heats up, there’s something on everyone’s mind — the possibility of a contested convention. In the scenario, a candidate without the majority of the popular vote could win the nomination. If no candidate has reached the necessary 1,237 delegates, candidates such as Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Ted Cruz are hoping to win on a multiple-ballot vote.
But that’s a risky and unreliable strategy.
Delegates who come to the convention “unbound” can change who they support at any time and on any ballot — including the first. A majority of the delegates who come “bound” are obligated to vote for the candidate who won their state on the first ballot, then they are free agents who can vote for whomever they please.
This is why Cruz and Kasich, to some degree, have dedicated significant resources to making sure their supporters are elected as delegates, so that when the delegates become “unbound” it will ensure support for their nomination on multiple-ballot votes.
Again, this all assumes that no candidate wins on the first ballot, something that is more unlikely than likely. But it is important for the candidates to have their grassroots operations in place if that situation were to arise, and so far Cruz has outperformed all of his rivals.
Over the last three weekends, Cruz has swept delegates in the states of North Dakota, Colorado and Wyoming — states that choose to not hold a nominating contest and instead select their delegates at their state conventions. But he is also setting his sights on states with bound delegates — specifically in states where Trump has won. Through implementing a strong ground game and grassroots operation in delegate elections in states Trump won, including Virginia, Arizona, Georgia, and Arkansas, Cruz is ensuring that his supporters will be at the convention — ready to support him if the convention goes to a second ballot.
Obviously these delegate sweeps and the strategy by the Cruz campaign has caused some controversy as Trump continues to rail against the system, calling it “rigged.” But Trump has signaled that he is interested in playing the game and has hired veteran Republican strategists such as Paul Manafort and Rick Wiley to head his convention and political ground game operations — it just may be too little too late.