Donald Trump is right: The GOP nominating process is rigged.
Only it’s not crooked in the way that Trump claims. There’s no official plan to steal the election from him.
The truth is that the arcane rules of the presidential nomination game are designed to punish or reward candidates with one simple goal in mind: protecting and advancing Republican Party interests at the state, local and national levels.
There are delegate windfalls for candidates who can prove durability and popularity, to make sure the party produces a competitive nominee. And there are incentives for campaigns to focus on grass-roots organization, since organizing is the lifeblood of any political party. But there are also trapdoors and hidden passageways built into the process — fail-safe measures put in place to ensure that no one, not Trump or any other electoral force of nature, can be bigger than the party and its component parts.
That is what Trump is up against — and what our new blog, 1237, is all about.
The name hardly needs explanation. There are 2,472 delegates available; 1,237 is a majority of them, the magic number needed to win the Republican presidential nomination. Our goal is to take you deep into the delegate hunt, explain the rules and loopholes, and identify the key behind-the-scenes players and their motivations.
Of the three remaining candidates — Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich — Trump is the only one with a realistic shot of getting to 1,237 by June 7, the last day of GOP presidential contests. But he would have to dominate the 15 remaining Republican primaries over the next six weeks, not an easy feat considering the still tenacious resistance to his candidacy.
That’s probably Trump’s best chance at winning the nomination, since most delegates are required to vote on the first ballot according to the results of their state primaries and caucuses. After that round, his odds of winning are greatly diminished after having his pocket picked in state after state by the better-organized Cruz campaign, which has taken full advantage of the labyrinthine rules of delegate selection.
This weekend provided the most recent evidence, with Cruz forces outmaneuvering the Trump campaign for delegates in states as varied as Maine, Minnesota and South Carolina.
All of it raises the prospect of a mad scramble among the campaigns in the run-up to the convention. And it puts a premium on thinking through the second and third ballot math as well — or however long it takes to come up with a nominee in Cleveland.