We begin today’s roundup with Dana Milbank’s piece at The Washington Post pointing out that Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus is in way over his head:
If the party accepts Trump, it could consign itself to political oblivion by antagonizing women, minority groups and immigrants. If it accepts Ted Cruz instead, it risks a riot by the Trump populists and the loss of all but far-right voters. And if Priebus and his fellow Republicans try to rally around a mainstream figure such as Paul Ryan, they could salvage the party in the long run but would risk alienating the majority of this year’s GOP voters. [...]
Priebus failed to act to stop Trump when he could have, or to coordinate Republicans to clear the field for a mainstream alternative. And now he compounds the damage by sticking with the same moral neutrality and happy talk of GOP unity that allowed the situation to develop. [...] history is unlikely to remember kindly a Republican chairman who turned the party of Lincoln over to a populist demagogue or to an ideologue loathed even by Republican colleagues. Hopefully those twin menaces will be enough to wig out Priebus — before his Republicans get Whigged out
Ed Kilgore at The New Yorker examines possible delegate fight scenarios:
1. First-Ballot Votes
First and most importantly, there are battles over first-ballot votes at the convention: the binding commitments typically set by primary, caucus, or state convention votes as reflected in each state's delegate allocation formula. For example, Donald Trump won statewide and in each congressional district in South Carolina, so no matter what happens in other stages of the process, and even if every member of the delegation is a #NeverTrump zealot, he's going to get all 50 Palmetto State votes on the first ballot. First-ballot voting battles continue, however, in the 16 states still ahead on the primary/caucus calendar.
This past week, Ted Cruz won an unusual battle for first-ballot votes in Colorado where 34 delegates who are technically uncommitted were selected by congressional district and state conventions. According to every observer all 34 are Cruz supporters, so it's as though the Texan won a winner-take-all primary.
Donald Trump, for his part, is livid at Ted Cruz’s delegate strategy, especially in Colorado:
"YOU CAN BUY ALL THESE VOTES"
"Now they're trying to pick off those delegates one by one," Trump said. "That's not the way democracy is supposed to work. They offer them trips, they offer them all sorts of things and you're allowed to do that. You can buy all these votes."
Trump distributed a video of what he said was a Colorado voter setting his Republican Party registration on fire in protest of the process. "Great people being disenfranchised by politicians," Trump said on Twitter, adding the Republican Party was "in trouble."
Over at VICE, Grace Wyler looks at the GOP schism through the Wisconsin results:
While it's difficult to draw big conclusions from Wisconsin's exit data alone, the numbers do offer a glimpse into just how acrimonious—and potentially irreconcilable—the party's split might be by the time it picks its nominee at the convention this summer. [...] The Cruz campaign is now systematically trying to fill the convention with his supporters, getting them elected as state delegates so they can vote for him on a second ballot. [...]
Trump's campaign seems to be preparing, and even galvanizing its supporters, for this outcome, promising "riots" in Cleveland if the Republican Party tries to nominate someone not named Donald Trump. In the week since the Wisconsin primary, reports suggest that Trump has retooled his campaign operation to focus on the more arcane elements of delegate selection, bringing on seasoned GOP operatives to handle convention strategy. As the campaign continues to bleed delegates, though, Trump's flaks have accused the campaign of using "Gestapo tactics" to win the nomination.
Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight analyzes Trump’s Colorado fail:
Now, no matter how well Trump does in New York, he will have fallen further off pace to reach 1,237 delegates, taking into account Colorado and Wisconsin.
Colorado elects 34 potentially pledged delegates through seven district conventions and a statewide convention. (The state GOP decided not to hold a primary or caucus with a presidential preference vote this year.) But instead of putting together a top-notch convention team, Trump’s campaign was a mess: In one case, Trump delegates weren’t even on the ballot to be voted on by a district convention; in two others, Trump’s campaign didn’t provide his potential supporters with a list of pro-Trump delegates, so they didn’t know who to vote for. [...] That he came up empty-handed means he’s even further off pace.
Amy Davidson looks at Ted Cruz and “New York values”:
One of the many outrageous things about Cruz’s characterization of New York values is his assertion that Trump, an anti-immigrant candidate in a city of immigrants, “embodies” them. Only in this Republican race would a wealthy developer who refuses to apologize for having called for the execution of the Central Park Five—who were fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen years old when they were wrongly accused of rape—be regarded as a tribune of the urban crowd. (Cruz set him up for that role by leaving it to Trump to remind voters, at a debate in which New York was being disparaged, how honorably the city handled itself after the September 11th attacks.) [...]
When Maria Bartiromo, of CNBC, asked him, at a debate in January, what he meant by “New York values,” he said, “I think most people know exactly what New York values are.” When Bartiromo pushed him, saying, “I am from New York. I don’t,” Cruz saw the chance for a little joke. “What—what—you’re from New York? So you might not.” There was laughter, as Cruz continued, “But I promise you, in the state of South Carolina, they do.” He added a few words about liberals and a “focus around media and money,” but his own focus was on telling voters that “New York values” was shorthand for pretty much anything that they regarded as suspicious and alien.
And, on a final note, make sure to read Michael Daly’s write-up of Donald Trump’s “charity”:
Trump does not seem to have given anything to the foundation that bears his name since 2008. The funds handed out in his name have actually come from such various sources as a World Wrestling Federation, a Queens carpet wholesaler, and a prominent ticket scalper known as The Ticket Man.
On Monday, a spokesman for the September 11 Memorial was unable to confirm that Trump’s check had indeed come from the foundation rather than The Donald himself. Should the money prove to have come out of his pocket, he will remain $50,000 ahead from 9/11.