Jonah Goldberg lays out the possible strategies for stopping Trump from gaining the nomination in an op-ed for the L.A. Times:
The most desirable, but least plausible, way to stop Trump would be for Ted Cruz or John Kasich simply to beat him before the Cleveland convention. Unfortunately, Cruz would need to secure more than 80% of the remaining delegates to win the nomination outright. Kasich, the longtime candidate of math-deniers, would need to capture a lot more than 100%.
The second-best, but more likely, scenario is to deny Trump the 1,237 delegates required to automatically win on the first ballot in Cleveland.
Goldberg then rules out the likelihood that Kasich would get the nomination because he’s “widely disliked,” which is news to me, because as I pointed out in my last point, Kasich has pretty good favorability polling numbers (at least right now), certainly better than Trump or Cruz.
What really strikes me funny, though, is Goldberg’s phrasing in that first sentence: “the most desirable” way to defeat Trump is to have Cruz pass the delegate threshold—a slim possibility, sure, but much more plausible than Kasich doing that. But why would Goldberg want Cruz to stop Trump that way—not by denying Trump the number of delegates needed to get the nomination, but to tally enough delegates to get Cruz himself the nomination? Wouldn’t Goldberg prefer a brokered convention because of the possibility to squeeze in an establishment suit, even if it’s suicide?
I ask because while Trump has really, really high unfavorability numbers, Cruz isn’t that far behind. Here’s a PPP poll from March 29:
Trump actually has a higher favorability than Cruz. And Romney is not popular in any sense. Here’s another PPP poll from March 31:
Cruz only has a 1% point advantage over Trump for favorability and is only 5% points behind Trump for unfavorability. Note that he is also 4% points ahead for ‘not sure’ (though it’s hard to believe what kind of voter doesn’t have a favorable or unfavorable view of either Trump or Cruz).
And here’s a recent Quinnipiac poll:
Less favorable for Cruz, but also less unfavorable, though that’s because 19% of respondents “haven’t heard enough” about him. And like I said about Kasich (even more so in Cruz’s case), his unfavorability numbers are likely to rise once voters find out even more about him.
So basically Goldberg and plenty of other rank-and-file Republicans are so hell-bent on denying Trump the nomination that they’d hand it over to someone who’s almost just as unlikable and just as likely to lose to Clinton in November. So if Trump is unpopular, and Cruz is unpopular, and, according to Goldberg, Kasich is unpopular, and even if shiny GOP establishment frontman Mitt Romney is unpopular, just who are they going to go with? Paul Ryan? He’s got the favorability, but he constantly denies hints that he’d run for president.
Maybe they could nominate this guy:
Not too many people know about him, but there’s a lot of wiggle room. Probably the most legitimate candidate the Republicans could run.