For months, conservatives have debated what Trump represents and whether they can or should support him. While millions of voters still have time to make their choice (and still need to be informed about his baleful record), among those pundits, politicians, activists, donors and strategists who've been hashing this out for a seeming eternity, that argument is over. Trump is either someone you can live with -- or celebrate -- as the standard-bearer of your cause and your party, or he isn't.
As I wrote last week, this is an insurmountable divide within the party and the conservative movement. That means it's a zero-sum contest. There will be winners and losers. Either Trump wins or #NeverTrump wins (that's the umbrella Twitter hashtag for a diverse coalition of conservatives who will never vote for the man). There's no compromise.
So if you're a #NeverTrumper, the debate now is all about the how.
The most desirable, but least plausible, way to stop Trump would be for
The second-best, but more likely, scenario is to deny Trump the 1,237 delegates required to automatically win on the first ballot. Right now, that seems quite doable. Recently,
Most observers believe that if Trump can't reach the magic number, he'd hemorrhage support after each ballot at the convention, because delegates tend to be party regulars (and more and more delegates are released to vote their conscience after each round of voting).
That's why the margin of Trump's shortfall matters so much. If he comes just a few shy of 1,237, he could probably cut deals with a handful of delegates. Or he could horse-trade with Kasich, making the
What's more important, however, is delegate psychology. Some argue, in defiance of the rules, that Trump should be the nominee even if he fails to reach 1,237.
That sentiment might be compelling with a narrow shortfall. But if Trump misses the mark by, say, 150 delegates, that would be significantly more than the delegate totals of
Cruz would be the most likely victor in a floor fight, but that isn't assured. The longer the balloting goes, the more likely it is that the bitter and bleary-eyed delegates will opt to order off-menu. That's what Kasich is allegedly counting on. But Kasich is widely disliked, and it might be a good deal easier to find a unifying candidacy in, say,
The third option is what Weekly Standard editor