Josh Kraushaar at the revivified National Journal sure seems to think so:
Even as Donald Trump’s strong performance Tuesday night was a serious setback to the anti-Trump movement, the biggest obstacles to stopping Trump are his own Republican rivals. Instead of working together and denying Trump delegates, both Ted Cruz and John Kasich have pursued self-destructive, self-interested strategies that seemed designed more to one-up each other than take on the front-runner in the race.
According to The Cook Political Report’s delegate scorecard, despite Trump’s successful night last Tuesday, he is now (slightly) off track to securing the 1,237 delegates necessary to clinch before the convention. And, according to the delegate math, Cruz and Kasich have no path to winning a majority. If both Cruz and Kasich are looking to deny Trump his necessary delegates (and press their luck with a contested convention), they should be coordinating to their advantage. Kasich would cede most of the Western states, with more-conservative electorates, to Cruz. Cruz, whose social conservatism doesn’t sell well above the Mason-Dixon line, would allow Kasich free rein in the Northeast battlegrounds.
Instead, we’re seeing Trump’s opponents employ strategies that mainly help Trump…. instead of thinking strategically, Kasich and Cruz are behaving as if they have a logical shot at winning a majority of delegates. Cruz naively believes that, if the race were a one-on-one battle with him and Trump, he’d prevail. These assumptions are delusional. Cruz would likely lose badly to Trump head-to-head in the Northeastern battlegrounds, where his brand of conservatism is as disliked as Trump’s populist spiel. And Kasich is mathematically eliminated from winning a majority of delegates; it’s near-impossible for him to even come close to Trump.
Their path to victory lies in denying Trump enough delegates to have a majority entering the convention. The math shows such an outcome is very possible. The question is whether Trump’s rivals have the strategic discipline to pull of the task.
Probably not. Despite all the talk of a third-party, rump-conservative insurgency, that is unlikely to happen. As Kraushaar notes, that stratagem is being bruited to protect the down-ballot Republican candidates from a conservative exodus on election day.
That’s precisely why some party leaders believe having a third-party conservative candidate is something of a necessity with Trump as the nominee. Even if a split Republican Party costs them the presidency, getting enough GOP voters to the polls will be crucial with the Senate and the House both potentially in play.
But whether any presidential candidate — especially Cruz — would willingly forego competing with his foremost rival head-to-head is highly unlikely, given the temperaments of all three. So who might be a consensus candidate to emerge from the convention should Trump fall short? I don’t want to steal Kraushaar’s thunder, so please read the whole thing; the answers might surprise you.