Memo to the Trumpeters
So here we are on the eve of Super Tuesday, tha momentous day when a candidate can win more delegates than any any other single day of the primary.
“The Republican candidates can win about half of the 1,237 delegates needed,” Wikipedia tells us. “The two remaining Democrats are after 880 delegates, roughly one-third of those needed to win. The number of delegates from Texas is much greater than the other states: 155 for Republicans and 252 for Democrats.”
The rules for how the delegates are apportioned differ between the Democrats and the Republicans. “For the Democrats,” the Constitution Center explains, “about 22 percent of all convention delegates are selected for the national convention on Super Tuesday, with 11 states, American Samoa and overseas delegates in play. All votes are counted proportionately.”
For the Republicans, there is a more complicated set of rules to select delegates in a “winner-take-most,” and in a proportional fashion, for the 12 states in play. Depending on how well the leading candidate does, he can scoop up most of a state’s delegates, or only about the same number as a third-place finisher:
The “winner-take-most” states account for 438 delegates, or 70 percent, of the delegates picked on Super Tuesday. Of the 12 Super Tuesday GOP states, eight states follow “winner take most” rules that require the leading candidate to have more than 50 percent of the vote among congressional districts and at-large groups to get most of the delegates. Without a majority winner, the delegates are divided among candidates who receive at least 15 percent or 20 percent of votes.
And that model doesn’t favor a candidate greatly who is the voting leader, with less than 50 percent of the vote within a state.
This system provides a potential lifeline to Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, both of whom trail Donald Trump in most of the polls (except Texas, where Cruz is ahead). Ben Carson and John Kasich are both likely to get clobbered tomorrow, but Kasich, at least, can hope to do well in the coming weeks when big, “winner-take-all” northern states like Ohio -- his home state -- are decided:
After March 14, GOP primaries are allowed to use “winner-take-all” rules to settle their elections. In all, 15 states use winner-take-all rules, including Florida, Ohio and Illinois on March 15, and the winner-take-all states account for 36 percent of the national convention delegates. It is the winner-take-most states that account for about 37 percent of the national delegates, with proportional states and caucuses making up the remaining 27 percent.
So it’s likely that we won’t know who the Republican nominee is at least until March 15, and possibly not until the convention.
But here’s a prediction. If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, the whoops of joy you’ll hear will be from the Democratic strongholds. A Trump nomination will more or less assure a huge Democratic victory, and one in which the Senate and possibly even the House will be up for grabs.
Why do I say this about Trump when he is riding high, nabbing endorsements from RINOs like Chris Christie and staunch conservatives like Jeff Sessions, and comes in trailing a crowd of loud, thuggish supporters that B. Mussolini or Huey Long would have been proud of? Because, notwithstanding his noisy claque, Donald Trump is unelectable. Here is a man who didn't know what the nuclear triad was, who has lied repeatedly about the size and sources of his wealth, who first promised to release his “beautiful” tax returns and then reneged because he had been audited for 12 years running (why would an audit prevent the release of a tax return? It wouldn’t).
As a businessman, he is thoroughly disreputable: a liar and a cheat. Then there is the matter of Trump University, a “massive scam,” as Ian Tuttle put it in a masterly piece, a scam that has earned Trump three class-action law suits, two in California, one in New York. The New York suit alone represents more than 5000 people. “We started looking at Trump University,” former NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in 2013, “and discovered that it was a classic bait-and-switch scheme. It was a scam, starting with the fact that it was not a university.”