If these numbers had come from one of the “Dump Trump” people, I’d laugh them off as hype for a movement that’s going nowhere. According to the Journal, though, they come from Randy Evans, an RNC member who’s been whipping votes for Trump. This is Team Trump’s own rosiest spin on how many delegates on the floor are personally loyal to him — fewer than 900, well short of the 1,237 he needs for the nomination. None of that matters if the rules about pledged delegates remain in effect, as more than 1,500 are bound to him due to the results of the primaries. But if the “Dump Trump” contingent on the Rules Committee can muster the votes needed to issue a “minority report” on a rule to unbind the delegates, then the full contingent of 2,400+ delegates would vote on that rule. If there are 1,237 willing to replace Trump, then that rule will pass. And suddenly all hell will break loose.
Are there 1,237 willing to drop the bomb? This is the first news item I’ve seen since Cruz left the race suggesting … yeah, maybe.
Internal surveys of the Rules Committee conducted by RNC member Randy Evans of Georgia, who is whipping votes trying to help Mr. Trump fend off the insurrection, found at least 18 committee members open to voting to unbind. The Trump campaign’s count shows about 15 leaning toward the so-called conscience clause, according to people familiar with the campaign.
Kendal Unruh, a Colorado schoolteacher on the committee leading part of the anti-Trump movement, said she has private commitments from more than 30 committee members, but that many aren’t willing to admit so publicly…
Though a majority of the convention delegates are bound to support Mr. Trump, Mr. Evans’s count shows just about 890 delegates are personally loyal to the New Yorker. Another 680 oppose Mr. Trump. That leaves 900 delegates who are presumed to be “in play,” he said. The stop-Trump forces would have to take nearly two-thirds of them to block his nomination.
No fewer than 20 members of the Rules Committee told the Journal in interviews that they’d consider supporting a rule to unbind the delegates. Remember, it takes only 28 to issue a minority report and force a vote; if you believe Unruh, they already have that many commitments plus a few to spare. The whip counts of the Committee that I’ve seen so far have put the number in favor of unbinding far lower than that — one from Politico last week had it at just six committed members while this morning WaPo claimed fewer than 10 were onboard. Evidently there’s a small but very significant contingent on the Rules Committee that isn’t ready to publicly support a coup effort against Trump but is entertaining it privately. If there’s momentum towards ousting him, that support may firm up and then anything can happen.
Which is why it’s so bizarre that Evans would be leaking that Trump’s support among the total body of delegates is weaker than everyone thinks, hundreds of delegates short of the number he’d need to win in a straight-up “vote your conscience” test. The very last thing Team Trump should want to do right now is encourage the “Dump Trump” side for fear that it’ll catalyze demoralized anti-Trumpers by giving them new hope. Many of the 900 undecideds may be resigned right now to supporting Trump at the convention because they think there’s no chance realistically of knocking him out. Convincing them that there’s a chance, as Evans is inexplicably doing here, may tilt some of them from support to opposition and then suddenly you’ve got a majority in favor of unbinding and the convention dissolves into hand-to-hand combat.
Could it be that Evans is … a double agent?
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) July 6, 2016
I don’t know how else to explain it. The surest way to move the Overton window towards Trump being replaced is to promote the idea that the votes might be there to replace him. As for whether the Rules Committee can get the 28 it needs to issue a minority report and force the unbinding vote on the floor, here’s an interesting side note:
The Trump campaign is preparing for some nightmare scenarios if the opposition gets close to the 28 votes it needs. One fear is that Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who has been critical of Mr. Trump and is the highest-profile Rules Committee member, delivers a speech urging votes in favor of unbinding delegates.
Lee got irritated last week when Steve Malzberg leaned on him to hurry up and endorse Trump already. He’s up for reelection to the Senate this year and would be taking a risk by leading a coup at the convention, but he has some insurance in the fact that he’s from Utah, a state where Trump was crushed by Ted Cruz in the primary and which several polls have suggested might be in play against Hillary due to Mormon antipathy towards Trump. If any Republican can get reelected while sabotaging Trump, he can. (Lee’s Democratic opponent also happens to be transgender, which probably isn’t a selling point in a famously conservative, religious state.) One of the fears that may be holding some Rules Committee members (and delegates at large) back from opposing Trump publicly is the intimidation they’d inevitably endure from some of Trump’s more excitable fans, no doubt egged on by cronies like Roger Stone. If someone as prominent as Lee led the charge, he’d become the lightning rod and others might feel safer in joining him in opposition. I’m still skeptical that 1,237 votes exist to dump Trump, but the possibility that 28 votes exist on the Rules Committee to put it to a vote — especially with Lee cheerleading — seems more realistic now. Hoo boy.
From yesterday, here’s the chairman of the RNC fulfilling his newest job duty — lamely explaining away anti-semitic images generated by Trump’s alt-right fan base that were stupidly coopted by the candidate himself. Exit question: Is this why Trump leaked June’s fundraising number early? Because his support among the delegates is weaker than everyone thinks and he’s trying to impress them?