As the nominating contests wind down, a new poll suggests that a majority of Republicans would prefer the top vote-getter obtain the GOP presidential nomination.
The poll, from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, found that 62% of Republican voters would favor as the nominee the candidate with the most votes if there is a contested or brokered convention. Additionally, 55% agreed it would be acceptable that Ted Cruz become the nominee at the convention.
On NBC News, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus asserted that Trump has only received a plurality of votes, not a majority. It is an explanation the chairman has used in previous interviews. To date, Trump has received approximately 37% of the vote in Republican contests. As of this writing, Trump leads the vote count with nearly 8.2 million votes to Cruz's 6.2 million.
NBC also quoted Cruz noting that it is not necessarily the people at large, but "the delegates who were elected by the people who make the final decision," in the event of a brokered convention.
However, the Washington Post has noted that Trump already benefited from the current system, such as in Florida where he won 100% of the delegates in a winner-take-all state, despite winning only 45% of the vote.
Trump still needs 482 delegates to win the nomination prior to the convention. 838 are still available, which means Trump would need to win at least 57% of the remaining delegates to win the nomination outright.
The primary process developed slowly during the Progressive Era. For years, the process was "non-binding" and amounted to straw polls of voter preferences.
Rasmussen Reports calls the 1972 campaign the first of the modern era of presidential politics with an increased number of state primaries with those primaries being given more legitimacy in the nominating process. Still, in 1972, Sen. George McGovern, with one hundred thousand fewer votes than Hubert Humphrey, dominated the delegate battle, won the nomination, and lost decisively to President Richard Nixon.
As recently as 2008, a majority party candidate with the most popular votes did not receive the nomination. Although Barack Obama cleared the necessary delegate count, Hillary Clinton received a few hundred thousand more votes throughout the whole process.
Although there are several contests remaining, the poll's findings likely indicate that Republican voters are becoming increasingly aware of the prospect that the GOP convention will be contested.