NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, March 17, 2016, 4:00 AM
Trump has already amassed 646 delegates, putting him more than halfway to the amount he needs to secure the nomination outright.
Donald Trump may be “winning, winning, winning” hundreds of delegates in the Republican presidential race, but it may not be enough for him to be the party’s nominee outright.
If the GOP front-runner fails to amass the 1,237 delegates necessary to secure the party’s nomination before July’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, the event could be brokered — a rare and chaotic outcome that could splinter the party.
Trump has already amassed 673 delegates, putting him more than halfway to that amount.
But if the blustery billionaire continues to win future primaries by the average margin of victory he’s had in prior contests, he will likely not have racked up enough delegates to clinch the nomination.
To avoid such a scenario, Trump would need to win more than 60% of the remaining delegates. He could accomplish such a feat by winning the remaining 19 GOP contests with about approximately 40% support, just a bit more than his average support level in the already completed primaries and caucuses.
A strong showing by John Kasich in Pennsylvania and Indiana or California will probably leave Trump short of 1,237 by anywhere from 30 to 100 delegates.
For example, if Trump won Arizona’s winner-take-all primary and Utah’s primary on March 22; Wisconsin’s modified winner-take-all primary April 5; swept through primaries in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic on April 19 and April 26 with his average margin-of-victory; and then did the same in Indiana on May 3, he’d be set up to surpass the magic number on June 7.
That’s when voters in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota put up for grabs a whopping 303 delegates.
Anything less — like a strong showing by John Kasich or Ted Cruz — will probably leave Trump short of 1,237 by anywhere from 30 to 100 delegates.
Although Cruz and Kasich have no shot of amassing the required number of delegates, by staying in the race they can secure enough to keep Trump from doing so.
Normally, delegates hold an initial vote at the convention. If a candidate has 1,237 or more, those delegates pledge their support to their preferred candidate and that candidate wins on the first ballot.
By staying in the race until the July convention, Ted Cruz can secure enough delegates to keep Trump from winning the nomination.
But if Trump reaches the convention short of a majority, it could turn into a contested convention.
And if that happens, all bets are off.
“If it officially becomes a brokered convention, then you get into horse trading,” David Birdsell, dean of the Public Affairs School at Baruch College, explained to the Daily News. “And in that (situation), there is no shortage of possible outcomes.”
After a first ballot without anyone winning a majority, most delegates become unbound, allowing Trump, Cruz and Kasich to bargain for each other’s delegates, as well as those still pledged to Marco Rubio, who dropped out Tuesday after losing his home state of Florida.
Rubio can formally release his 169 delegates, but due to various state laws, only some of them will be officially up for grabs.
It’s even possible that the Republican Party could enlist somebody who hasn’t even been campaigning, like 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney or House Speaker Paul Ryan, who have both so far rejected calls to run.
The party could actually enlist a dark horse politician as its anti-Trump candidate in the event of a brokered convention.
But in a sign that support could be mobilizing behind Ryan, former House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday he would back his successor if the convention was brokered.
“If we don’t have a nominee who can win on the first ballot, I’m for none of the above,” Boehner said. “They all had a chance to win. None of them won. So I’m for none of the above. I’m for Paul Ryan to be our nominee.”
Delegates would continue to wheel and deal, and vote on ballot after ballot, until someone gets 1,237.
Normally, delegates hold an initial vote at the convention, and if a nominee has secured the necessary majority during the primary season, those delegates pledge their support to their preferred candidate.
Any way it shakes out, there will be repercussions.
Either Trump will win the nomination outright or after the first ballot, devastating a party that feels its values aren’t being upheld by its presumptive nominee, or Trump falls short and the party steals it away from him, which would enrage Trump’s motivated base.
Taking the nomination away from Trump could lead to the possibility of the businessman launching a third-party campaign that would doom the GOP’s chances in a general election.
“This won’t go down well,” Birdsell said. “If it is perceived that there is a backroom deal, as opposed to there being an on-the-floor consensus, all hell could break loose.”