Beverly Hallberg was super-nice enough to record this week’s Crummy Little Podcast right after the last GOP debate, and you can see some of her predictions are coming true already. She said people would start dropping off, and there goes Scott Walker.
Walker’s abrupt exit still leaves the Republican field crowded, and the big crowd includes a few well-funded candidates. Past primaries have served as surmountable obstacles for early favorites, providing just enough resistance to make the smart-money candidate break a sweat. This time, there isn’t a favorite, and a good chunk of the party finds the supposed front-runner less than ideal.
That’s a recipe for a brokered convention. If any four of Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and John Kasich come into the Republican convention with a hefty amount of delegates. Trump has a plurality, but there’s no majority. How does that play out?
The easiest answer is the non-Trumps dropping out and throwing their support behind a consensus candidate. And if you want to be that consensus candidate, now is the time to drop out.
None of the candidates have lost any votes, yet – their greatest crimes have been poor poll performance. They could credibly blame lackluster fundraising for their exits (“money in politics” is an effective bogeyman). They can hope that their failures of 2015 are forgotten by the summer of 2016. The two who have dropped out so far – Walker and Rick Perry – boasted very successful gubernatorial records.
Could the busy, noisy, crowded field that drowns out the voices of accomplished candidates be the factor that re-opens the door next year?
Well… no. It’s probably more likely to be a House of Cards story arc than a real-life convention drama. But if there was a cycle where something this bizarre could happen, 2016 might be it.