Who Is This “They” You Speak Of?

I’ve got a longer blog post coming with a bunch of delegate updates, but I want to respond to a mistake I keep seeing people make about the way the convention is likely to work. I’m not picking on Washington Monthly or David Atkins for any reason other than that they made this mistake today, so it’s nothing personal. It comes from this post, but here’s the key graf:

So in essence Republican officials might end up infuriating the most dedicated and motivated plurality of their voting base for not that much advantage. Would they really make such a move to protect social conservatism and Reaganomics from even the slightest challenge of Trumpist heresy? It seems increasingly likely, but it would be a shortsighted move.

The mechanics of this are very straightforward, and it doesn’t in any way require the involvement of “Republican officials,” unless by that term you mean the average men and women who serve as delegates at the convention. But I really don’t think that’s what people mean when they talk about how “they” might work to keep Trump from getting the nomination.

Follow me on the mechanics of this. First, let me make clear two of my assumptions:

  1. The convention rules will require the nominee to secure the vote of a majority of the convention delegates. This is standard operating procedure, but it’s in no way required, so the convention could decide to require a different standard. The Rules Committee sets the rules for the nomination, and it could require anything it wants – a plurality, a majority, even a super-majority – but it’s a pretty safe assumption that they will choose to go with a majority for at least the first ballot.
  2. Part of the reason that’s a safe assumption is that unless something dramatic happens, Trump isn’t going to end up with a majority of the delegates. He will probably come close, but close isn’t enough when 50% +1 is required. Of course, if Trump did get to a majority, the Rules Committee could choose to require a super-majority, so these’s assumptions are interlocking.

So under those conditions, here’s how the vote at the convention is likely to work. No one will have a majority on the first ballot, so the convention will be forced to go to the second ballot. On the second ballot, the delegates loyal to Cruz will constitute a majority and he will win the nomination. Nowhere in there is there a need for “elites” or “officials” moving to “protect” well…anything at all. All that’s required is for the individual men and women who serve as delegates to do what they believe is in their own individual self-interests. And since a majority of them are likely to be loyal to Cruz, that will mean Cruz wins the nomination because they support Cruz. It really doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that.

More on why I think Cruz is the most likely nominee in my next bullet-pointed update.

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