Not since a wounded Gerald Ford saw off a challenge from Ronald Reagan in 1976 has the Republican Party witnessed a contested convention. That might all be about to change. Even though Donald Trump still enjoys a strong delegate lead over Ted Cruz, his march towards the nomination is more of a limp than a confident step. His comprehensive defeat to Cruz in Wisconsin only adds to the feeling. The Trump campaign’s failure to grasp the nuances of primary politics has given Cruz ample space to manoeuvre and win delegates and other commitments even in states the Texas senator lost. Given that Trump is now almost certain to fall short of the required number of delegates before the convention, the real estate mogul is exposed, should the vote in Cleveland, Ohio go to a second ballot. His candidacy is still very much alive, but to think that the party will simply rally behind the divisive frontrunner in July is dangerously naive.
Ed Bowsher, senior analyst and joint output editor at Share Radio, says No.
Donald Trump has alienated many American women over the last fortnight, and the Wisconsin primary was a serious blow to his prospects. That said, there’s still a decent chance he’ll be the nominee in the end. Trump still has more delegates than Ted Cruz (742 to 505), and the race is now moving to New York, which is Trump’s home state. New York has more white working class voters than Wisconsin, and that’s the segment of the population where Trump has most support. Granted, Trump may not arrive at the Republican convention with more than 1,237 delegates – the crucial threshold which guarantees victory. But if he does well in the New York primary, he won’t be far off the threshold, and his delegates will be committed to his cause. It’ll be very hard to pressure his delegates to switch to another candidate in the second round. Republican grandees may have to accept Trump as nominee to prevent a total disintegration of their party.