Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Delegate math won't save the Republican Party from Trump

Earlier today, I posted something about how "Trump Denialism" is dead.  Nobody can seriously deny that Trump is going to be the nominee unless something very dramatic happens in a very short period of time.  Betting odds at PredictWise put Trump's chances near 80%.  Given how weird things have been, a little caution is always warranted, but c'mon, folks.  Trump is winning.

And yet!




The forces of Trump denialism are regouping.  This time, with.... numbers!

Delegate math.  Here's the deal.  The states that have held contests so far don't use winner-take-all rules.  So, even the non-Trump candidates are racking up delegates.  Trump just has more.  The catch is that he doesn't have more than 50% of the allocated delegates, much less 50% of total delegates, and you need more than 50% at the convention to get the nomination.

So, nobody but Trump has any real chance of getting over that 50% threshold.  Maybe, the non-Trumps can hold The Donald under 50%, and then cut a deal at the convention to nominate one of the non-Trumps.  Mathematically possible?  Sure.  Politically realistic?  Not really.  Let's game this out.

First, we are heading into winner-take-all states, in which Trump will get all of the delegates just by getting more votes than everyone else, even if he stays under 50% within the state.  Second, whoever has the lead at this point tends to gain rather than lose support.  Could that change?  Sure, but the odds right now have to favor Trump winning a flat-out majority of delegates.  But, what if he doesn't?  That's where it gets fun.  Here is the basic constraint:  Trump plus Cruz combined will certainly get more than 50% of the delegates.  Trump will never give his delegates to anyone not named "Donald Trump."  Everything, then, rests on Ted Cruz.  So...

A)  Party muckety-mucks decide to try to get all non-Trumps to back either Rubio or Kasich.  What does Cruz do?  He backs Trump.  Cruz's entire political  identity is based on being the anti-establishment guy who won't bow to the pressure from party leaders.  He can't maintain that if he backs Rubio or Kasich.  So, Trump offers Cruz the VP slot, and tells Cruz to take advantage of that clause in the Constitution about the VP being "President of the Senate."  Remember how Sarah Palin was obsessed with that line?  Imagine what Cruz would do with it...

B)  Party muckety-mucks back Cruz, and tell Rubio and Kasich to give him their delegates.  What happens next?  Assuming everyone plays ball, Trump runs as an "independent" candidate, and hands the White House to Hillary.

So, even if the non-Trumps hold Trump under 50% in the delegate count, the only way they stop Trump from getting the nomination is by backing someone they all hate (Ted Cruz), knowing that they will wind up with another Clinton presidency anyway.  Will they do that?  I have a hard time seeing it.  And, since Cruz can't back anyone other than Trump without destroying his credibility as an anti-establishment figure, that leaves Trump.

What would it take to stop Trump now?  Edwin Edwards once said that the only way he could lose an election was if he was caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy.  Trump isn't in Edwards territory yet, but he's getting there.  In his case, maybe he could be caught in bed with his daughter.  He does appear to lust after her.

Trump could lose.  Really, though.  Let's be realistic about how unrealistic those scenarios are getting.

2016 Disclaimer:  everything might go out the window this year, because it already has.  The best case against Trump right now, then, is simply that 2016 is crazy.

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