Greg Sargent points out a serious flaw in the anti-Trump Republicans’ plan to bring about a contested convention:
The problem with this, though, is that it may make it harder, ultimately, to take the nomination from Trump even if he does fall short of a majority of the delegates. That’s because, if all three stay in, and all three split up the delegates that don’t go to Trump, that makes it more likely that Trump will end up with significantly more delegates than the runner-up does — making the scenario in which he loses the nomination after a contested convention even harder to defend.
The core problem for anti-Trump Republicans is that they haven’t been in a position to defeat Trump consistently at the polls, and so they have been reduced to engaging in increasingly ridiculous maneuvers to stop the obvious front-runner from claiming the nomination. Either anti-Trump Republicans rally behind one candidate to keep Trump’s delegate lead from getting very large, or they throw their support to whichever candidate has the best chance of winning in any given state to ensure that he can’t get an overall majority. The weaker candidates aren’t cooperating with the first plan, and Cruz won’t cooperate with the second. Indeed, Cruz is determined to do all he can to use the Florida primary to knock Rubio out.
There is no scenario in which anti-Trump Republicans can now thwart Trump’s nomination without sabotaging the party ahead of the general election. Dan McCarthy explains what giving the nomination to someone other than Trump and Cruz would mean:
That might console the #neverTrump elites—until they stop to think about just what might be in store at Cleveland, where Trump and Cruz together will command a majority of delegates. Cruz is personally disliked by much of the party elite, which has come to resent his grandstanding ways in the Senate, while Trump is actively hated and feared. Yet if both of them were to be denied the nomination or some significant consolation prize—and what could that be?—by the party’s D.C. leadership class, there would be hell to pay in the long run.
The convention would go down in history as the GOP’s ultimate betrayal of its own voters.
Presumably a nontrivial percentage would react to such a betrayal by staying home or casting protest votes against the GOP. Anyone foolish enough to accept the nomination under these circumstances would be seen as illegitimate by at least half of Republican voters whose preferences were ignored, and a nominee foisted upon the part in this way would have enormous difficulty securing the loyalty of his party’s core supporters. That would greatly hamper the nominee’s ability to run a general election campaign, and it would put him at an enormous disadvantage against the Democrats. The truly strange thing about the #NeverTrump crowd’s determination to thwart Trump’s nomination is that they will deserve and receive the blame for the ensuing electoral debacle. Even if they “win” against Trump, all they have done is practically guarantee a Democratic victory. If anti-Trump Republicans were capable of thinking through the long-term consequences of what they’re doing (and that is a questionable assumption), they would realize that stopping Trump’s nomination would be a thoroughly discrediting Pyrrhic victory for their faction. It would confirm everything that most Trump and Cruz voters think is wrong with the GOP, and it would vindicate them in their loathing for the party’s elites. Instead of accepting the temporary defeat that a Trump nomination represents for them, his opponents are trying to do something that would all but guarantee more populist insurgencies for years to come. If anti-Trump Republicans don’t want to find themselves in a similar situation in another four years, they should stop looking for ways to thwart Trump now.