Did Donald Trump kill “the bump”?
Not the infamous dance from the ’70s (though, who knows? It is possible). No I mean the “bump” that successful candidates get from winning The Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary, a step up in attention and respect that fuels a candidate’s ambitions (and opens donors’ pockets) prior to the South Carolina primary, the Nevada Caucuses and the March 1 SEC Super Tuesday primary.
Has Trump so dominated media that even a win by Ted Cruz in Iowa or Chris Christie in New Hampshire would not have the impact it traditionally has had on the field? Donald Trump got to the media cupboard first, and the shelves may well be bare even in the unlikely event of a double Trump dump in the Hawkeye and Granite States.
That’s the wild card this year: The real estate mogul/author/reality television star’s massive “big footing” of all other would-be nominees in terms of “minutes discussed or on air” since debate season got underway on August 6. What has this massive media blitz done to the old rules, other than destroy them, that is? We know that. But what will the Trump tsunami leave on the shore after it recedes in February after voting begins?
Chances are we won’t know since Trump is ahead in most polls in most states, and thus it is hard to say that even Cruz-Christie back-to-back wins would slow down the campaign colossus that is Trump.
But there is also the unusual compactness of the calendar that stands astride the road to 1,236 — the number of delegates needed to nominate a standard bearer in Cleveland — shouting “Not so fast, everyone!” Rules matter. The candidates pledged to live by them.
John Kasich looks to pick up Ohio’s delegates on March 15. Michigan (filing deadline is mid-February, the Mitt-wistfulls mutter — not happening) votes on the 8th of March. So many variables. So much investment of the the chattering class in the idea of an “open convention.”
Not a “brokered” convention.To repeat: Not a “brokered” convention. To have one of those you would need men like William Lorimer, the “Blond Boss” of Cook County in 1896, or Matthew Quay of PA, or the “Quiet Boss” of New York Thomas Platt, also of the same era. These were real bosses, controlling jobs and thus the delegates who occupied those jobs. Karl Rove’s magnificent The Triumph of William McKinley details how the genius of the man from Niles (Warren, really, as Niles was just an appendage to Warren) Ohio beat all the bosses and won the nomination in 1896.
The bosses are all gone now, at least from the Republican Party. They have been extinct from a century. Each state determines the rules about who goes as delegates to Cleveland and how long they are bound to the candidate they stumped for, or even if they are bound at all. Pesky “Rule 40” also presently requires that for a name to be placed in nomination requires wins in at least eight states. If no candidate sails onto Lake Erie’s shores with more than 1,236 committed delegates, look for the RNC’s Convention Rules Committee to dump that innovation from 2008 in the blink of an eye. (Preferably before Cleveland, but who knows.)
This column was originally posted on WashingtonExaminer.com.