Some Republicans really don't want Trump as their nominee for president. (Michael Vadon/Flickr)
Donald Trump is the front runner to be the Republicans' presidential candidate.
And many Republican leaders are ... trying to stop him from winning.
As of March 18th, he has won 678 delegates in the primaries and caucuses. He's looking like the obvious Republican nominee.
(Delegates officially vote for their candidates at the Republican convention. They generally vote based on the results of the primaries.) His two remaining rivals, Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich, are way behind him, and the primaries are already over halfway done.
But that doesn't mean his nomination is 100% in the bag. The GOP establishment is not a fan of things like his violent words and statements against Muslims and immigrants, his non-conservative stances on issues like free trade, and his past donations to Hillary Clinton, among other things.
So they're officially Team #StopTrump.
Yep, conservative leaders have been meeting secretly to discuss ways to stop Trump. Here are the 3 key ways they could do just that.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
1. Clear alternative
Governor John Kasich, a possible alternative to Trump. (OhioMHAS/Flickr)
Weirdly, despite all the animosity towards Trump, very few Republican politicians have thrown their support behind his opponents:
- Both Cruz and Kasich are backed by only 2 senators each. (Cruz will probably get an endorsement soon from Senator Marco Rubio, who dropped out.
- Three governors support Cruz, and two support Kasich.
- Cruz has 27 House Republicans backing him, and Kasich only has 7.
If all the Republicans in office who dislike Trump threw their support behind Kasich or Cruz, it would send a strong message of solidarity against the current frontrunner.
Could it work?
Probably not--the more politicians and the media attack Trump, the more tightly his followers cling to him.
And that's not even considering how difficult it would be to make every elected Republican agree to the plan. Or to agree on which guy to back, Cruz or Kasich.
Neither one of them stirs up a ton of enthusiasm.
And it would take a lot of money to try.
2. Brokered convention
Believe it or not, Abraham Lincoln won a brokered convention. Even he couldn't secure enough delegates to win the nomination outright. (Ben C.K. (Benck's)/Flickr)
If Kasich and/or Cruz win enough states in the primaries, they could stop Trump from earning enough delegates to get the Republican nomination. (You need 1,237 to win. He has 678. Cruz has 413, and Kasich has 143.)
If no one gets to 1,237, this could lead to a brokered convention, or a convention where the delegates create new voting rules and make deals and sometimes can vote for whoever they want. Possibly even someone who didn't run this year. (Looking at you, House Speaker Paul Ryan.)
This would be a hugely chaotic and complicated process, but the establishment might be willing to try it to keep Trump away from the nomination.
Trump is already on record claiming a contested election would be unfair:
"Whoever has the most delegates at the end of this trip should win."
He also warns (promises?) his supporters might riot if he loses at the convention.
Could it work?
Another problem is that a lot of Republicans hate the idea of a brokered convention.
It's impossible for Kasich to win the nomination outright at this point, and a Cruz victory is unlikely too, but if the two of them combined win several more states, they could successfully withhold enough delegates from Trump.
And that would allow the Republican party to call a brokered convention, at which point it's anyone's game.
3. Electoral college
The founding fathers put a safeguard in for situations like this. (kjd/Flickr)
Americans don't elect our presidents directly, remember? Each state has a certain number of electors in the electoral college. Those electors generally vote for the candidate who wins the popular vote in their state during the presidential election.
But here's the thing: They don't have to.
State legislatures have the option to choose their state's electors themselves, as opposed to having the electors chosen by popular vote. The legislatures could choose electors who will vote not based on the popular vote, but based on whomever the legislature wants to win.
In other words, state legislatures could foil Trump even if he wins not just the Republican nomination, but the entire election.
Could it work?
It could--it's technically legal--but Trump supporters would see it as dirty and underhanded, and it could set a precedent for future elections. Imagine an America where state legislatures decided to do this every presidential election. The popular vote would mean nothing.
None of these options are easy, and they definitely aren't sure things. But will anti-Trump Republicans consider them worth a try to keep Trump out of office?
This article was written by Alison Maney and originally appeared on Kicker. Kicker explains the most important, compelling things going on in the world and empowers you to get in the know, make up your own mind, and take action. For more, check out the Kicker site, like their Facebook page, or subscribe to their email newsletter.