In the wake of the Wisconsin primary that really didn’t change anything, the amount of media hype to the contrary is amusing to watch.

For example, Jake Novak at CNBC says Forget Trump. Paul Ryan is the likely GOP nominee.

Novak bases his analysis on the idea that a genuinely brokered convention requires three things.

  1. Two leading candidates neither of whom has a majority.
  2. Irreconcilable differences such that neither would ever support the other.
  3. A third compromise candidate that both sides can begrudgingly support.

Novak believes Trump cannot defeat Hillary (an idea I strongly refute), and this will cause the delegates to rally around Paul Ryan.

Silver Says Cruz, Not Ryan

Nate Silver says Ted Cruz, Not Paul Ryan, Would Probably Win A Contested Convention.

It’s like something out of an Aaron Sorkin script. After their bitterly divisive primary, the Republican delegates come together to nominate John Kasich on the fourth ballot at a contested convention in Cleveland, despite his having won only his home state of Ohio. Or they choose House Speaker Paul Ryan, despite his not having run in the primaries at all. Balloons descend from the ceiling, celestial choirs sing and everything is right again with the Republican Party, which goes on to beat Hillary Clinton in a landslide in November.

As I said, it’s like something out of a TV show. In other words: probably fiction. It’s not that hard to imagine a contested convention. In fact, with Donald Trump’s path to 1,237 delegates looking tenuous, especially after his loss in Wisconsin on Tuesday night, it’s a real possibility. And it’s not hard to see how Republicans might think of Kasich or Ryan as good nominees. If Republicans were starting from scratch, both might be pretty good picks, especially from the perspective of the party “establishment” in Washington.

But Republicans won’t be starting from scratch, and the “establishment” won’t pick the party’s nominee. The 2,472 delegates in Cleveland will.

Delegate Selection Process Favors Cruz

Silver goes into a detailed explanation of the five major delegate selection mechanisms, noting a whopping 1,358 delegates (55% of the total) are chosen through state and local conventions.

“Cruz is likely to do well among delegates chosen through state and local conventions because we’ve seen that demonstrated quite a few times already,” says Silver.

Silver concludes …

It’s true that a contested convention is uncharted territory in the modern political era, so we can’t be completely sure what the delegates would do. The 2,472 delegates have nearly unlimited authority to rewrite the convention rules, and if most of the them really wanted to see Ryan or Kasich nominated, they could probably find a way to do it. Or, if the voting was a stalemate between Trump and Cruz for many ballots, a true dark horse — maybe someone far more obscure than Ryan or Kasich — could emerge as a compromise. We can’t rule out these outcomes.

But we’re also learning more and more about who those delegates are now that they’re being chosen. They’re not members of the Washington “establishment.” Instead, they’re mostly grass-roots activists, and many of them want Cruz to be their next president.

Amusing Wisconsin Tidbit

Trump only won two Wisconsin districts. One of them was Paul Ryan’s.

I found that tidbit in the Rasmussen analysis Kasich Plays the Spoiler.

The Kasich campaign, with predictable political spin, claims that Cruz’s win over Trump now shows that the GOP race is ”wide open.” With neither of the top two contenders likely to have enough delegates to claim the nomination on the first ballot, the Kasich team sees things as ripe for maneuvering their candidate into the nomination at the convention. Kasich himself says an open convention will be “fun” and “cool.”

The problem for Kasich is that GOP voters don’t want a brokered convention: 51% say the candidate who enters the convention with the most delegates should be the nominee. Just 34% think the delegates at the convention should choose the nominee by voting for whomever they want.

Even Karl Rove, the dean of Republican political operatives who lost his candidate when Jeb Bush flamed out, doesn’t think nominating someone who can’t win primaries is a good idea. Rove, however, is no fan of either Trump or Cruz, so he now suggests that perhaps the party needs “a fresh face” as a nominee. Translation: We’ll sacrifice our guy (Kasich) if you sacrifice your guys (Trump, Cruz).

The leading “fresh face” is House Speaker Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman whose district went for Trump in yesterday’s primary voting. Some leading Republicans see a Ryan-like candidacy as the only thing preventing a down-ticket rout of other GOP candidates if Trump or Cruz is the nominee. But Ryan insists he’s not interested.

Some in the Republican leadership may think there will be a return to “normalcy” once the insurgents are quieted. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has begun suggesting that there will be consequences for unsuccessful GOP candidates who challenge the party nominee.

Trump and Cruz and the majority of their delegates are not likely to go quietly, however.

For the Republican Party, it really seems to boil down to whether Cruz can defeat Trump fairly and squarely. The media has made much of Cruz’s efforts to switch delegates elected to support Trump over to his side. Unless Cruz can turn enough of those votes into a first ballot victory, his efforts just appear to play more into the hands of the brokered convention crowd who hope to use subsequent ballots to their advantage.

Hell to Pay

Forget about Paul Ryan. He cannot even deliver his own district. Trump took it.

One way or another, it looks increasingly likely there will be “Hell to Pay”. Take your pick.

  1. Trump Hell
  2. Cruz Hell
  3. Brokered Convention Hell

For further analysis of Wisconsin, and my reasons why Trump might beat Hillary but Cruz cannot, please see What Happens in Wisconsin Stays in Wisconsin; Hell to Pay.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock