On a regular basis, I hear the following phrases (usually at a high volume or in CAPS LOCK):
- How can Ted Cruz win at the convention if Donald Trump has a majority of votes?
- But we’re a democracy!
- Cruz is stealing delegates!
- If Trump has the most delegates in Cleveland, he should be the nominee!
It’s time to clear things up. I’ll begin with the second one, because it’s the foundation for the other three.
But we’re a democracy!
We are not a democracy–not in the pure sense of the word. We are a representative republic. Does that contain democratic elements? Yes. However, we aren’t a pure democracy in that we don’t elect our president directly. We elect him or her through representatives, otherwise known as delegates.
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When you go to your polling station to cast your vote for candidate A or B, you’re not voting for them, you’re voting for delegates to represent your vote. These delegates will go to the convention in July and cast a vote for the candidate to whom they’re bound. This depends on the state, of course.
There are irregular states like Pennsylvania, where the majority of delegates are unbound, regardless of the vote. There are also states like Colorado, where the people don’t vote for a candidate, but for delegates.
How can Ted Cruz win at the convention if Donald Trump has a majority of votes?
The problem here is that many people believe “majority” means “plurality.” A majority of votes is more than 50 percent, while a plurality is simply the most, if not necessarily a majority. If someone beats the other candidates by scoring 43 percent of the vote, it’s not a majority, it’s a plurality.
This is an important distinction because for anyone to win the Republican nomination, they must win the majority of delegates. 1,237 delegates is the current majority necessary to clinch the nomination outright. Republicans have had to win a majority since 1860, when there were many fewer delegates, but the same rules applied.
If Trump has the most delegates in Cleveland, he should be the nominee!
Simply put, no. If a candidate cannot even get their own party’s delegates to vote for them at the convention, they cannot win a general election.
If no candidate reaches 1,237 delegates, a mechanism is in place to remedy the situation. This mechanism is rarely needed, but it was made for situations like the one in which we’re likely to find ourselves this July. After the first vote on the convention floor, many states release their delegates, meaning they can change their votes.
If we go into the convention in Cleveland, and Trump has 1,100 delegates, Cruz has 900, and Kasich has 200, no candidate will win on the first ballot. If there were no mechanism in place to fix this, the delegates would simply continue to vote for the candidates to whom they’re bound, and the same results would play out over and over again.
That’s why many delegates are released after the first vote, and more after the second. This way, they can eventually get to a majority. On a second ballot, if Kasich and Trump delegates stay put (unlikely), all 171 of Marco Rubio’s pledged delegates may move to Cruz, giving him 1,167. Still, no majority.
On a third ballot, some of the delegates bound to Kasich in round one may bail, and move to Cruz. If half of Kasich’s delegates moved over, Cruz would have 1,267 delegates, making him the convention winner.
The above example is a hypothetical, obviously, but it’s an approximation of how a contested convention might play out.
If you don’t like the situation, then become an activist. Also, keep up; the rules have been the same for 156 years.
Cruz is stealing delegates!
According to The Washington Post:
“Cruz’s chances rest on exploiting a wrinkle in the GOP rule book: 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.”
While obligated to vote for Trump on the first ballot, many delegates will become unbound on the second and third ballots. That’s why it’s critical for candidates to not only win states, but to get agreeable delegates elected, so in the case of a contested convention, they have a path to victory.
These are the rules.
Team Cruz, made up of hired help and thousands of volunteers, have been going to delegate nomination conventions and out-organizing the other candidates. For example, in Colorado, team Cruz was a machine, handing out lists of preferred delegates, and wearing neon orange tee shirts with the delegates’ names and nomination numbers on the back.
Team Trump was a mess, handing out a delegate sheet riddled with errors. They eventually printed a second sheet. The only problem is that the second sheet also contained numerous errors. Team Trump’s embarrassing unfamiliarity with the rules of the game, as well as their failure to organize, cost them 34 delegates. Nothing was “stolen.”
In Wyoming, team Cruz is also out-organizing everyone else.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
“In Wyoming as in Colorado, the Cruz campaign has been working for months to get its followers involved and, ultimately, to Cleveland as delegates. His efforts in Colorado were so thorough that he shut out his rivals, and his supporters were elected to every one of the 34 available delegate slots…
Twelve delegates were chosen in county GOP conventions in March. Of the 12, nine are pledged to Mr. Cruz, one to Mr. Trump and one to Sen. Marco Rubio, who has dropped out. The remaining delegate isn’t tethered to a candidate.
Mr. Cruz will address the convention Saturday, the only candidate scheduled to do so, as he was last weekend in Colorado. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was scheduled to speak for Mr. Trump, but canceled Thursday. Speaking for Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be Idaho Gov. Butch Otter.”
Ground game is critical. Cruz has been tilling the ground for months upon months. Meanwhile, Trump sits back, doesn’t bother to learn the rules (or thinks he doesn’t need them), and angry-tweets when he doesn’t get delegates who like him. Boo freaking hoo.
To Trump, as well as his cultists, I say: Stop crying and learn the rules of the republic. If you want to change them, then organize. Don’t blame the guy who studied harder.