A Race with No Finish Line

Imagine a horse race where no horse is actually able to reach the finish line. Even though one is like the mighty War Admiral (a son of Man O’ War) and the other, a scrappy, stunted horse like Seabiscuit (a Man O’War grandson).  They’ve come far.  The finish line is in sight, yet can either of them go to the distance to the finish line?


Candidate      Won                Needed (as of April 5, 2016)


Trump              743                  494

Cruz                517                  720

Kasich             143              1,094

Rubio               171

Carson                           9

Bush                   4

Fiorina               1

Huckabee           1

Paul                    1


Needed: 1,237 (out of 2,472)

Out of running: 187

Delegates still remaining: 790


Colorado (Apr 9) state convention:               21

New York (Apr 19) hybrid:                           95

Rhode Island (Apr 26) proportional:              19

Connecticut (Apr 26) WTA:                           28

Delaware (Apr 26) WTA:                               16

Maryland (Apr 26) hybrid:                             38

Pennsylvania (Apr 26) hybrid:                        71


Indiana (May 3) hybrid:                                  57

West Virginia (May 10) hybrid:                      34

Nebraska (May 10) WTA:                              36

Oregon (May 17) proportional:                       28

Washington (May 24) proportional                 44


California (June 7) hybrid:                           172

Montana (June 7) state convention:                27

New Jersey (June 7) WTA:                             51

New Mexico (June 7) proportional:                24

South Dakota (June 7)            WTA:                         29


If all the remaining primaries were winner-take-all, Trump would only need to win about half of the remaining races to make it to the finish line and win the GOP nomination. Ted Cruz would need to win just about every race remaining in order to go into the convention the uncontested winner.  John Kasich has virtually no chance of legitimately winning this horse race.

Trump, as is generally acknowledged, benefitted by the extremely large field at the beginning of the Republican campaign. Had Cruz won the delegates that went to other candidates now out of the running, particularly Marco Rubio’s 171 delegates, he’d already be ahead of Trump, with 847 delegates, 104 delegates ahead of Donald Trump.


Yet it would still be a horse race. Because only four of the states are winner-take-all, the race is still up in the air and probably will be right up to the convention.  If Cruz and Kasich combined can deny Trump 395 delegates, he’ll miss by one point, but he’d probably contest the results.


So Cruz has to do better than 395 delegates to keep Trump from winning. There is also the matter of super delegates and unpledged delegates who can tip the balance if none of the candidates comes up with the magic number of 1,237.


Delegate math is about as byzantine as Common Core math. In New York, the delegates are divvied up via Congressional districts, making a Trump sweep more difficult than we might have thought, despite his overwhelming popularity.  Those hybrid votes make up the greatest proportion of delegates in the primaries.


Following are the nebulous rules regarding distribution of delegates in a primary and at the later convention:


1Qualifying threshold: Some states require candidates receive a certain percentage of the vote either statewide or on the congressional district level to qualify for at-large (statewide) and/or congressional district delegates. By rule, that threshold can be no higher than 20%. 2 Winner-take-all threshold: In a number of states, there is, as allowed by the rules of the Republican Party, also a percentage of the vote that a candidate can hit statewide and/or on the congressional district level and be allocated all of the at-large  and/or congressional district delegates. That threshold can be set no lower than 50%, a simple majority. 3 Backdoor winner-take-all: Under the rules in some states, it is possible for a candidate to win all of the at-large and/or congressional district delegates if that candidate is the only one over the qualifying threshold. Such a backdoor route to a winner-take-all or winner-take-more allocation is prohibited in some states.  Number of ballots bound: The RNC rules defer to the state parties the ability to bind delegates and the length of that binding. For the majority of states that point is after the first ballot. There is, however, some variation in this across states. Some extend it, while other states keep the delegates bound until released by the candidates to whom they are bound.  Winner’s rounding: There is also variation in rounding rules across states in the event of over- or under-allocated delegates. In a number of states, those rounding rules favor primary/caucus winners or those at the top of the order to the detriment of those candidates at the bottom of the order (just above the qualifying threshold). Other states have different rounding rules, based on the distance from the rounding threshold (typically .5). Pooled delegates: Some states opt to pool and allocate all of their delegates as a block (with either proportionally or in a winner-take-all manner) while other states divide the allocation (again either proportional or winner-take-all) across both the statewide and congressional districts. This distinction is particularly relevant when it comes to either the winner-take-all threshold or the various backdoor winner-take-all scenarios that are possible. It means the difference between winning some larger fraction of delegates or all of them in some cases.
The Republican Party has declared that it desires a contested convention, in which it could manipulate the distribution of delegates so that a candidate more to the party’s liking will win the nomination. They claim that it is their party, after all.


Such an attitude is what has cost the GOP membership and votes since George H.W. Bush. In the years since Ronald Reagan, they’ve increasingly opened up their state primaries to allow cross-over Democrats and Independents to raid the polling places.  As a result, we’ve had a virtual conga line of unelectable, Moderate or even Liberal candidates for president.  The consequence has been that voters, particularly Conservatives, have stayed home – and the GOP couldn’t care less, because it’s “their” party.


To date, there is very little evidence that their “open borders” polling place policies have endeared the GOP to Blacks, Hispanics or other minorities. Some candidates for Senate offices, like Nikki Haley, campaigned on the Tea Party ticket (as did Sarah Palin, with the Tea Party Express), only to betray the voters once they were in office.


Just so you know, this Tea Party member wasn’t fooled by Palin at all, though Haley put on a good act. Palin was McCain’s running mate, for goodness sake.  Who was she kidding?


Voters are getting ready for a political bloodbath in July. The leader, whoever he is, if he has the delegates, will be expected to claim the nomination.  Trump was wrong in thinking that a large field would play to his advantage.  The other candidates, particularly Rubio, were able to pick off enough of his delegates before dropping out to make Trump’s win a less-than-sure bet.


Polls indicate that Trump would not win the general against either Clinton or Sanders. Cruz stands the best chance now, although Rubio also was predicted to win.  One thing the presidential record shows is that no Moderate Republican stands a chance of winning the general election.


They haven’t yet. George W. Bush won by running as a Conservative and ruling as a Moderate.  Fool us once, shame on you.  Fool us twice, shame on us.  The Republican Party’s record is extremely poor.  How they can possibly claim that they can pick a better, electable candidate than their base can is one of those unsolvable political mysteries, wrapped up in crony corruption, dubious donors, and backroom backstabbing.


The biggest puzzle is why the Republicans want to be so much like the Democrats. Right now, a Socialist is giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money.  The answer can be found in Ted Cruz politi-bio, A Time for Truth.”  If ever a book gave vital clues about how the American people are being betrayed, this is that book.


Even if you’re voting for someone else, find this book at your library and prepare to be appalled. You may not vote for Ted.  But you’ll sure take a closer look the next time you vote for a senatorial or even a Congressional candidate.


At any rate, Republican voters have a right to know whether, even if War Admiral or Seabiscuit wins, the judges will suddenly trot some Buttercup out of the stable and put the roses around his neck instead. The Democrats will certainly have a horselaugh over the proceedings.  They’ve openly declared that they want to see the Republican Party destroyed.


Which isn’t exactly the American way to do things, is it?

Published in: on April 6, 2016 at 4:51 pm  Leave a Comment