Against a backdrop of never ending controversy and catastrophic poll numbers, we’ve been waiting to see if and how Donald Trump’s enemies would try to stop him at the convention. We may now have an answer to both.
First, Paul Ryan said that House Republicans must go with their conscience when deciding whether to support the presumptive nominee. In effect, giving free reign to dozens of public rejections and therefore killing any lingering hope of unity at the convention. One could say he had no other choice given the party’s divisions but it is a notable signal, nevertheless.
Second, a group of delegates launched their fight to become unbound at the convention. Any such decision would have to be taken by the infamous Rules Committee, who will meet a few days before Cleveland. It would then need to be ratified by a majority of delegates – 1237, rather than the 30 odd that came out today.
Nevertheless, Ryan’s ‘conscience clause’ offers a useful precedent for the rebels. If lawmakers are free to consult their conscience rather than blindly following the party nominee, surely ‘bound’ delegates should have the same freedom. As Ryan said, “this is a very unique situation”.
It is impossible to accurately measure the chances on getting that rule change passed, without knowing who the delegates are. But given the mood among so many active Republicans – as opposed to one-off primary voters – there’s a fair chance that over half will be anti-Trump. Hopefully we’ll learn more soon.
The market was already inching away from Trump – out to 1.09 – and I could see this becoming volatile again during the final four weeks.
Rather than laying Trump though, the best angle lies in backing plausible alternatives. By plausible I don’t mean Jeb Bush, who remains ridiculously over-rated in a mirror of the wider race.
The two most obvious are my main bets already – Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan. If the delegates became unbound, Cruz could potentially win on the first ballot. So could John Kasich of course but Cruz is much likelier. In the event of a second ballot and new names being thrown in, Ryan is by far the most obvious name.
Two other names are on my radar. Earlier I threw a couple of units on Nikki Haley at 1000 and I’ve recently backed Scott Walker at around 800 average. Walker was my original tip a year ago, and I still feel he’s one of the few capable of uniting establishment and grassroots. When out of cash and forced to quit the race early, he foresaw how Trump could win and warned his former rivals to swiftly unite around an alternative.
Regarding trading strategy, as with my recent bet on Cruz at 500, I’m not adding any of these to the portfolio and can only offer general advice. Liquidity is weak so published odds can not be guaranteed to last. Plus this is the kind of market that could explode in an instant and the odds transformed. If the rule change were passed, Cruz could theoretically collapse to odds on. Ryan would certainly shorten up. If I lay back, I’ll announce it on Twitter.