Friday, March 4, 2016

Trump Not Necessarily a Shoo-In

Thomas Sowell’s two most recent columns state a problem with Donald Trump’s candidacy for president. “Everyone understands that the best chance for stopping Trump is for the fractured majority vote to consolidate behind one candidate opposed to him. But who will step aside for the good of the country?” He waits until part two of his two part argument to offer Ted Cruz as the best candidate but notes that the Republican establishment might prefer Marco Rubio or even Trump to the maverick Cruz.

I am not convinced that the GOP’s un-unified anti-Trump segment should despair yet. Due to stricter rules in some of the upcoming primaries and caucuses, Cruz and Rubio might together or separately deny Trump the number of delegates needed to win nomination on the first ballot.

Trump has done well in states with relatively open primaries or caucuses. He has not done as well in states with more closed procedures. (A closed process makes it difficult for non-party members to vote in a party’s primary or caucus, but the severity of these restrictions vary greatly according to state laws and local party rules.) Several strictly closed primaries and caucuses are coming up, and Trump might do less well than other candidates in these elections. The first states to watch are Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Maine (which hold elections tomorrow as I write).

We will see four more such strictly closed GOP primaries or caucuses later in March, followed by five in April, two in May, and four in June. What is more, ten of these closed elections are designated “winner take all,” meaning that either the front runner alone or only the top two candidates will win any delegates. These races could mean that either Cruz or Rubio or both win enough delegates to deny Trump a first ballot win at the July convention in Cleveland. A second ballot could break the convention wide open because many delegates will be free to vote for whomever they like regardless of whom they were initially committed to vote for.

March Strictly Closed Primaries and Caucuses

Florida (Winner take all)
Arizona (Winner take all)
Utah
Kansas

(One wonders how Trump will do in Puerto Rico primary on March 13.)

April Strictly Closed Primaries and Caucuses

New York
Connecticut (Winner take all)
Delaware (Winner take all)
Maryland (Winner take all)
Pennsylvania (Winner take all)

May Strictly Closed Primaries and Caucuses

Oregon
Washington

June Strictly Closed Primaries and Caucuses

California (Winner take all)
New Jersey (open to independents but not to Democrats, Winner take all)
New Mexico
South Dakota (Winner take all)

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