As Donald Trump hurtles closer to securing the Republican presidential nomination, GOP leaders are mounting a major, last-ditch push to try to stop him.
The New York Times reported Saturday that a cadre of GOP leaders and donors are scrambling to mount a 100-day campaign to deny Trump the delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination ahead of this summer’s convention.
Trump had several overwhelming victories in key primary states last Tuesday.
Many anti-Trump Republicans now believe that the only way to stop him is through a combination of factors that includes stripping away delegates to force a floor fight at the Republican National Convention in July.
Republicans opposed to Trump are already working to woo delegates who will enter the convention bound by party rules to support Trump during the first round of voting. Many of those delegates will become unbound should Trump be unable to reach the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination on the first ballot.
While other campaigns have already made overtures to the unbound delegates free to support any candidate, Trump’s campaign appears to be playing catch-up in that area. The Boston Globe reported recently that Trump’s campaign is beginning to reach out to unbound delegates in US territories like Guam and Puerto Rico to try to win over their support.
Meanwhile, several Republican-affiliated advocacy groups have upped their fundraising and spending efforts against Trump.
The Club For Growth, a right-leaning, anti-tax group, has increased its fundraising significantly in the past month. It reportedly plans to continue spending millions against Trump in states like Wisconsin, which holds its primary April 5.
And many prominent Republicans have in recent days thrown their weight behind Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Trump’s top remaining GOP primary rival, despite his deep unpopularity among many in the GOP establishment.
Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, said in a Facebook post Friday that he would vote for Cruz in Utah’s contest next week. And Sen. Lindsey Graham — a former candidate who earlier this year joked that picking between Trump and Cruz was like choosing between being shot and being poisoned — said he would fundraise for Cruz’s bid.
Trump still needs to win 53% of future delegates to win, a somewhat steep climb with three major candidates — Trump, Cruz, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — still vying for delegates.
But the design of the nominating process actually appears to work in Trump’s favour.
The real-estate magnate has a significant structural advantage in delegate-heavy “winner-take-most” states like California, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. These states award a portion of the delegates to the winner, as well as a portion to winners of individual districts.
These kinds of contests benefit Trump. The mogul showed last week, for example, that even though his overall margin-of-victory in a state like Missouri was slim, his support was distributed so that he won the majority of the state’s districts. He took home around 70% of the state’s delegates.
Cruz’s backers are hoping that the senator can win smaller “winner-take-all” contests in Montana and South Dakota. But Trump appears stronger in the delegate-heavy “winner-take-all” contests like Arizona and New Jersey, where wins could put him more than 100 delegates closer to winning the nomination.