Yes, Republicans Could Still Dump Trump

Here's what might happen if the convention in Cleveland votes to free the delegates.

Maybe chaos doesn't look so bad.

Photographer: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Donald Trump is having his third consecutive terrible week.

Over the weekend, Republicans who have endorsed him slammed him for his bigoted comments about Gonzalo Curiel, the judge who is overseeing the fraud case against Trump University. 

Then Bloomberg Politics reported on a conference call Monday between Trump and his surrogates in which Trump dismissed the criticism of his attack on Curiel and blasted his own campaign for (sensibly) telling them to change the subject away from why "Mexicans" can't be fair judges. 

Added to all this are more details (via MSNBC) on how Trump barely has a campaign, something I mentioned last week.

I don’t think the Republicans who chose to accept Trump as a done deal in April are at a panic point yet, but it's worth noting: All it would take to dump him in Cleveland would be a vote to free the delegates, followed by having at least half of the convention oppose him on the first ballot.

Technically, they wouldn’t even have to have an alternate candidate. Trump dissenters could vote for various other candidates -- or Mickey Mouse, for that matter -- as long as a total of 1,237 of them don’t vote for Trump. 

Remember, the campaigns don't directly choose most Republican delegates. They are bound to a candidate, but may or may not personally support that candidate. And the convention has the final word on its own rules. The bottom line is that a convention majority with the support of the convention chairman – House Speaker Paul Ryan, in this case -- can do pretty much whatever it wants. 

After I pointed this out on Twitter, Ryan Lizza asked, “Who will be the first serious Republican to float this?”

Trump has fallen to 5 percentage points behind Hillary Clinton in matchup polls. That is still a lot better than he was doing earlier in the spring, but he’s now heading in the wrong direction. And Clinton has a predictable likely bounce coming now that she has mathematically clinched the nomination and will soon receive endorsements from the remaining neutral high-profile Democrats including Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren -- support that will be capped by a made-for-TV White House visit. 

I’m not predicting anything. I’m just saying it'd be great to have a count after the final delegates are chosen this week of exactly how many of them were chosen by Trump and dedicated to him. 

Granted, without a candidate to rally behind, the result of defeating Trump at the convention might be chaos. But at some point, does chaos start looking good to some Republicans?

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

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