Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The State of the Race — It’s a Mess for the Republicans

I haven’t posted about the state of the race lately because things got busy. Cherry blossoms, Charlie and Linus’ birthday celebration and opening day.

But now I can turn some attention to it and it is in a word a mess. Maybe that’s not exactly the right word to use. It’s become complicated especially on the Republican side (I'll deal with the Democrats tomorrow).

Trump is trying his hardest to reach the magic delegate total of 1,237. At this point in time delegates are the most important thing. Yes it is important to win primaries as Trump will go next week in New York. But the delegates matter a whole lot more. And Cruz is playing a much smarter game on that score. From the Post:
Consider what happened over the weekend in Colorado, where rival Ted Cruz walked away with all of the state’s 34 delegates. The WaPo’s Ed O’Keefe wrote of Colorado: “At the state GOP convention, Trump supporters distributed glossy fliers urging people to vote for a slate of their preferred candidates. But several names were misspelled or assigned the wrong ballot number.” Trump forces insisted that they weren’t competing aggressively in Colorado and noted that they had just installed a new state director. Trump himself fell back on his preferred stance when things don’t go his way: complaining.

And here’s how Trump’s complained:
Trump has responded by lashing out at party leaders, at his rivals and at the delegate process, arguing that the system is “totally corrupt” and that Cruz is “stealing” delegates at state conventions.

“These are dirty tricksters. This is a dirty trick. And I’ll tell you what, the RNC, the Republican National Committee, they should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this crap to happen,” Trump said during a rally here Tuesday.
In fact, there are no tricks involved in this at all. These are the rules set out by the Republican Party. Just like the Democrats set out rules on how delegates are awarded and the process of how they are awarded. The notion that the primary process is a straight democratic process is really not the case. It’s just that the nomination rules have not come under scrutiny because it has been so long since they actually mattered. Usually by the end of the primary process a winner has emerged. There has been no question that one person has indeed gotten the magic number of the majority of delegates.

But with the Republicans that is looking more and more like it won’t happen. This is especially true if Cruz can pick up delegates like he did in Colorado. There’s one more thing which I didn’t realize again from the Post:
Frontloading HQ’s Josh Putnam notes, about 68 percent of all Republican delegates have been allocated but just 28 percent actually have been selected. A bit of math tells you that 72 percent of the delegates to the Republican National Convention have not yet been selected.
It’s a little confusing but in essence the actual person who is going to be the delegate and going to the convention has not been selected.

Why does that matter?

If no candidate has the majority of delegates to win on the first ballot, then there will be a second ballot. On the second ballot a whole bunch of delegates who were bound to vote for a specific candidate on the first ballot will be free to vote for whomever they want on the second ballot. And each additional ballot means more and more delegates become free agents

There’s one more thing in the rules too: “that delegates assigned to vote for Trump at the convention do not actually have to be Trump supporters. Cruz is particularly focused on getting loyalists elected to delegate positions even in states that the senator from Texas lost.” This is important because if there is a second ballot these original Trump delegates will be voting for Cruz. This underscores for Cruz just how important it is to make sure Trump does not get to the magic number of 1,237.

So now each and every delegate counts. Not only how the delegates are allocated but who the delegates actually are.

Oh July in Cleveland could be just amazing.

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