Monday, April 18, 2016

Donald Trump, the 50% threshold and changing the rules

The big question for the Republicans right now is how they would handle a situation in which Donald Trump wins more delegates than anyone else, but less than 50% (a "plurality").  Republican rules require a candidate to get more than 50% of the votes from delegates at the convention in order to secure the nomination.  If no one gets over 50%, then, the result is some sort of deal.  It is worth considering the options.

1)  The delegates vote.  Nobody gets over 50%.  The convention goes to a second ballot.  Some delegates pledged to Trump on the first ballot switch to Cruz, or someone else, and the convention nominates someone other than the delegate leader/poll leader.  Chaos ensues.

2)  The delegates vote.  Nobody gets over 50%.  The convention goes to a second ballot, and on that ballot, some of the non-Trump delegates vote for a man they consider odious simply to prevent the chaos that would have ensued had the convention gone with option 1.

3)  There's a third option!  Change the rules.  The convention rules require an outright majority because the party doesn't want ten candidates splitting the vote so much that somebody gets the nomination with 15% of the vote.  So, lower the threshold.  Change the rules to something like the following:  let whoever gets the most delegates have the nomination as long as that person gets over, say, 40% rather than 50%.  That way, no second ballot is required, the convention doesn't have to deal with the chaos of denying the nomination to the vote/delegate leader, and nobody pledged to a non-Trump has to support Trump.  No deal-making, no brokering, just a simple, clean vote.

How does option 3 work?  The delegates have to agree to the rule change in advance.  This is the tricky part.  For all practical purposes, voting for the rule change in option 3 prior to formal convention action is voting for Trump, but in a sneaky, cop-out way.  But, what's the alternative?


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