Join me in a thought experiment.
You’re at summer camp, and the entire camp is about to engage in a massive scavenger hunt. The campers are divided into two teams, team A and team B, each headed up by a counselor. The rules are explained in great detail by the camp director. Each team must find thirty items on a list. The first team to return on time with all the correct items gets 50 points.
Each counselor writes out a list of the items as told by the director, hands it to their team, and the game is on. Team A is extremely well organized, with their campers setting out in pairs to be as efficient as possible. Team B is a mess, scattering about, with no apparent planning or process.
Thirty minutes later, the campers from teams A and B come back with all their items. Team A is declared the winner. “What?!” team B collectively cries. “We got all the items on the list and made it back at the same time as team A!”
“Many of these aren’t the correct items,” the director tells them.
Confusion ensues, and the counselors compare their lists. It turns out the counselor heading up team B made numerous mistakes because he wasn’t paying close attention when the director was laying out the rules for the game.
The counselor for team B then claims that the counselor for team A cheated, and that the game wasn’t fair.
Does that sound at all correct?
If you’re thinking that the counselor for team B should take the blame for his inattention, rather than the counselor from team A, who listened carefully and played the game smartly, you’re likely a Ted Cruz supporter.
This scenario just played out in Colorado, albeit with much higher stakes (and slightly different rules). The Colorado GOP has operated under the same rules since 1912 regarding their caucus process (minus a brief period from 1988 – 2004).
According to Independent Journal:
“A slight change was made in August 2015 after the RNC altered its rules, but it was only done so to keep Colorado’s delegate selection process the same as it had been in years prior.
Instead of holding a non-binding straw-vote like in the past several election cycles, they decided to eliminate the vote in order to keep their delegates unbound.”
Colorado’s caucus system is different than that of other states. Instead of voting for candidates, they vote for representatives (delegates) to go to the convention. It’s an extra layer of representation.
Conservative Review’s Robert Eno explains the process:
“Since the 2004 primary and caucus season–and from 1912 to 1988 before that–here is how the system worked: Republicans met in local precinct caucuses, which they did this year. People ran for delegate to the county assemblies (convention), often stating which presidential candidate they would support during the assemblies. The county assemblies picked delegates to district and state assemblies…
On March 1, thousands of Coloradans met at precinct caucuses. They elected delegates to the county assemblies. Those county assemblies sent delegates to state and district assemblies (conventions). There the delegates were selected. Exactly as they had been in 2004, 2008, and 2012.”
Ari Armstrong, blogger and alternate delegate, appeared on CNN Tuesday to further clarify how the process works. Here are the key points from Armstrong, an eyewitness to the caucus:
- Every Colorado Republican is allowed to attend the caucuses, and vote for whomever they believe will be their best representative.
- Anyone can run to be a delegate.
- Each potential delegate gives a very brief speech prior to the voting process.
However, Armstrong explains that there’s more to it:
“There’s ten second speeches, but people have a long time to figure out who these people [potential delegates] are, who we want to vote for. And in fact, the candidates ran slates. So, Donald Trump had a slate of candidates. He said ‘Look, if you support me, vote for these national delegates.’ Cruz did the same thing. It’s not like this was a complete mystery…
We listened to a lot of speeches, there was a lot of discussion off the floor–just people chattering about what’s going on. These were votes made with due reflection.”
Team Cruz was a machine, packing the halls, handing out perfect slates with no errors. Volunteers even wore neon orange tee shirts with the names and numbers of their preferred delegates clearly written on the back.
Impressive CO organizing by Cruz camp continues with these fluorescent orange slate shirts @ state convention pic.twitter.com/e8lItDxVHX
— Alexandra Jaffe (@ajjaffe) April 9, 2016
By contrast, team Trump was a mess.
“…on the first slate that the Trump campaign was giving out, more than a half dozen of their delegate candidates were listed with the wrong delegate number. At least one of the delegate numbers corresponded to a delegate supporting Cruz…
The Trump campaign reprinted the flier, but the second flier also included several errors.”
It was a game in which one team played brilliantly, and the other team completely whiffed. To be fair, there were some alleged irregularities on the ballots that are being investigated by the Colorado GOP.
Trump is enraged. And because he’s the best at everything, the system must be rigged.
How is it possible that the people of the great State of Colorado never got to vote in the Republican Primary? Great anger – totally unfair!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2016
They did vote. For delegates.
The people of Colorado had their vote taken away from them by the phony politicians. Biggest story in politics. This will not be allowed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2016
Again, not true.
The rules DID CHANGE in Colorado shortly after I entered the race in June because the pols and their bosses knew I would win with the voters
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 14, 2016
Nope. Colorado only altered their rules after the RNC did to make sure their voting process would stay the same as it’s been since 1912. They simply got rid of their non-binding straw-vote. Everything else remained exactly the same.
Trump Spokesperson Stephen Miller appeared on CNN and argued that Colorado didn’t even hold a caucus. Tapper corrected him, saying there were actually multiple caucuses, but it didn’t matter. Miller just kept changing the subject.
Miller also claimed that “it takes years of inter-party working to become a delegate,” but Ari Armstrong didn’t become a Republican until late last year, and he’s an alternate delegate. Armstrong shows that anyone who wants to participate in the process can do so.
Also–no small detail here–the RNC changed the rules in August. So, even if the RNC rule-change had altered the Colorado caucus at all (which it didn’t), Trump had half a year to build a ground game. Truthfully, he had 104 years notice, and he still failed miserably. Ted Cruz scooped up all 34 delegates.
Sucks to suck, Trump. You didn’t win win win. You were out organized, out-thought, and outplayed. Deal with it.