It’s taken a month, but an idea pitched by former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in a televised address might finally have caught on in Wisconsin: Strategic voting against Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.
“It seems a lot of folks whose true first choice was John Kasich voted Ted Cruz in Wisconsin to stop Trump,” Wilson says. “Whether Cruz voters will strategically vote for Kasich in future states remains to be seen, but strategic voting showed up in a big way for the first time in Wisconsin. Republican voters are getting more savvy about strategic voting.”
As a result, Wilson says, “The wheels may be starting to come off the Trump campaign a little bit. It significantly increases the likelihood of a contested convention.”
A contested convention might be enough to stop Trump, but it won’t likely do anything to help Republicans realize their goal of winning the general election. Wilson says there might not be any path forward that does.
“This voting against Trump instead of voting for someone else creates all kinds of problems down the road, but the Republicans don’t have the luxury of worrying about that right now because they are locked in an existential struggle with Trump forces they think are hijacking the party,” Wilson says. “If the party nominates Trump, the polls say the GOP faces catastrophic defeat. If Trump and his followers bolt, the polls show the party faces catastrophic defeat. The only way to avoid this outcome is if the Republicans nominate someone other than Trump and keep Trump reasonably onboard, but good luck making that happen.”
As the Republican race barrels toward a contested convention, Bernie Sanders has turned some heads by calling for victory in a contested Democratic convention as well. But that convention might not turn out the way Sanders hopes, says Wilson.
“Sanders has very few connections to the Democratic party,” Wilson says. “He’s been a fringe player – an independent from Vermont – for years. Clinton is a Democratic machine and lots of folks at the convention will owe her something one way or another, so convincing them to jump ship at the last order will be a tall order.”
“The only way Sanders wins at the convention is if Hillary is damaged by something as dramatic as an indictment,” Wilson says. “Then the delegates might say, ‘OK. Let’s give Sanders a shot because we can’t nominate someone who has been indicted.’”
Wilson is an SMU associate professor of political science. He can discuss:
- religion and politics
- political psychology
- voting behavior of religious voters
- public opinion and politics