Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump faces a counter-offensive from Republican delegates rebelling against his candidacy. The movement threatens to derail next week’s Republican National Convention by lobbying to allow delegates to vote for a candidate other than Trump.
But the so-called “Dump Trump” movement is unlikely to be successful, according to political experts at a teach-in hosted by FIU’s Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs on July 12.
“I quite frankly don’t think it’s very likely that there will be another candidate who will emerge as the nominee,” said former U.S. Rep. Marcelo Llorente (R-FL) at the teach-in.
One reason, said professor of politics and international relations Kevin Evans, is that there are not enough “Dump Trump” supporters to have convention rules changed. Currently, delegates are bound to vote for the candidate who won their states’ primaries and caucuses.
Similarly, the likelihood that supporters could coordinate the rebellion among enough delegates on the floor at the convention is small.
Sara Moats, an instructor of politics and international relations, advised against choosing another candidate at the RNC. Such disregard for the voters’ choice could be detrimental to the public’s view of the party.
“What is worse? Having Donald Trump as your nominee, or completely destroying legitimacy in the eyes of the voting public?” Moats said.
Llorente later added: “The great frustration with Washington, with career politicians, all those things that Trump is talking about, is something that has struck a passion [among voters] that a lot of us probably didn’t understand or adequately appreciate.”
Additionally, there is no clear alternative candidate to replace Trump.
“The problems that the Republican Party had coalescing around an alternative to Trump, those still exist,” Evans said. “They haven’t gone away.”
“And I don’t think an alternative candidate would actually do any better than Trump in the general election,” he said, citing polls from FiveThirtyEight.com, an election forecasting site, which gauged Trump’s support at 22 percent.
A replacement candidate would have to overcome lawsuits and other hindrances discrediting their legitimacy, on top of facing what Evans calls a “tremendous fundraising and organizational disadvantage” coming into an election so late in the campaign season.
The possibility of Republicans rallying around a Libertarian nominee — currently two former Republican governors are running on such a ticket — is unlikely, as well, Evans said.
“You don’t want to underestimate the power of partisanship. Even if people in the Republican Party have to hold their nose to vote for Donald Trump, they might still do it over feeling like they’re throwing their vote away with the Libertarian candidate,” he said. “But I suspect that it’s possible for [a Libertarian candidate] to get into double digits, so we’ll see.”
Evans added that more reliable poll data regarding which candidate the public favors might become available after the conventions, as more people tend to start paying attention to presidential elections at that time.
Moats said in general, one of Trump’s biggest shortcomings is that he has not been able to unify the Republican Party.
“Donald Trump has been very difficult, to say the least,” she said.
But she expects Trump’s selection of a vice presidential running mate next week should smooth party tensions, because it will likely be a conservative with more political experience than Trump.
Ultimately, Llorente said, it’s important for both parties to portray unified behavior going into the conventions.
“[Conventions are] choreographed and very structured environments that are used to rally the party together and create essentially a national bump, and a movement and a momentum toward the general election,” he said. “It’s going to be incredibly interesting to see how that’s going to transpire with the Republican convention next week.”