April, 2016

THE 2016 GOP PRIMARY SAGA: The End of the Line

By Louis Manzo / April 14, 2016

     Since the Wisconsin primary, the GOP establishment [party officials, insiders, lobbyist, financers and their PACS, and operatives] have been fast afoot in their 100-day mission to destroy Donald Trump’s campaign for the GOP nomination. Judging from the primary results in Wisconsin and the results of the Colorado caucus, that plan is working.

     The strategy was most likely put together by political architects such as Karl Rove and other party players—mostly, former supporters of the Bush political family. Their own guy, Jeb, went down faster than a box of donuts at a Weight Watcher’s meeting. They next shifted their support to Marco Rubio, whose candidacy lasted about as long as a toupee in a hurricane. Now they’ve saddled up with Ted Cruz…not to win [they can’t stand him either], but, instead, to take delegates away from Trump—in order to deny him the nomination.

     The establishment and donor class of both the GOP and Democrat Party’s really never lose. Through the power of money, they are able to maintain power no matter who is in office. They especially thrive in a situation where one party controls the White House and the other the Congress—such as now. Lobbyists flourish in this type of climate.

    The establishment can’t trust Trump because he hasn’t taken their money and is therefore not obligated to them. That makes Trump a danger to them. And, yes, they would even feel more comfortable with Hillary Clinton as President. At least they can still do business.

    So how will all this end?

     First, understand this, none of what you have heard about the GOP Convention Rules, other than the magic delegate number of 1237 needed to nominate, will apply to this year’s convention. The rules for this year’s convention will be written by a yet to be named committee just prior to the convention. The establishment typically controls the goings on of this crucial committee, which will determine the rules and qualifications for the nomination on the first and subsequent ballots of the convention.

     Cruz and Kasich have no chance of securing the nomination on the first ballot at this point; and as long as they don’t unbind their delegates, they can possibly prevent Trump from reaching the magic 1237 number.

     Here’s the math:

     Trump currently has 755 delegates—482 delegates shy of the nomination. Next up is Wyoming [29 delegates]. The Wyoming precinct caucused on March 1st but did not bind all of their delegates. The delegate selection process will culminate at the state convention on April 14-16. Delegates from Wyoming can be bound or unbound.

     Trump has very little opportunity of winning a majority of delegates in Wyoming for the same reason that he got blown away in Colorado—he has a lousy political field campaign organization, and because this type of delegate selection process has been purposefully designed by the party bosses to benefit the party bosses. Look for Cruz, [who, as we noted several blogs ago, has the best field operation in the game] with the assistance of the establishment, to triumph in Wyoming.

     Incidentally, Pennsylvania holds a primary but still unbinds 54 of their 71 delegates. Here, Trump can and should win the popular vote, but he can then witness the party establishment, which controls the delegate selection process, still deny him a majority of the delegates to be awarded.

     It should be noted that Trump has just hired a seasoned political mastermind for the delegation process, Paul Manafort. Manafort has already caught the establishment inserting Trojan Horse delegates as representatives for the delegate seats already won by Trump—-meaning that these individuals will only vote for Trump on the first ballot and then vote as they are told to do in subsequent ballots. Manafort is what Trump’s campaign needed from the get-go. Even though it’s late in the game, Manafort will at least stop the hemorrhaging and exorcise some of the Trojan delegates.

     Excluding Wyoming and Pennsylvania, there are 159 delegates available in “the primary winner takes all of the delegates” states [Delaware 16, Nebraska 36, Montana 27, New Jersey 51, and South Dakota 29], and there are 539 delegates available in states that proportion the allotment of delegates based on primary voting [New York 95, Connecticut 28, Maryland 38, Rhode Island 19, Indiana 57, Nebraska 36, West Virginia 34, Oregon 28, Washington 44, New Mexico 24, and California 172].

     When the dust clears, the assessment here is that Trump will be about 50 votes shy of the magic 1237 number. If Trump can maintain his huge lead in New York and pickup 85 or 90 delegates, then he has an opportunity to cut the 50 delegate deficit down to 30. Trump’s team might also be able to pressure Pennsylvania to commit additional delegates to his side because of the primary vote. Any additional campaign gaffes between now and the last primary date will only hurt Trump in reaching his goal.

     This still leaves approximately 80 unbound delegates up for grabs. If Trump and his team are worth their salt, and can employ the “Art of the Deal,” they are in the hunt. Additionally, if former candidates, Rubio and Carson, unbind their delegates before the convention’s first ballot, then they put into play an additional combined 179 delegates from which Trump has an opportunity to persuade and move over to his side in order to put him over the top.

      Trump will most likely reach out to Rubio and offer him the vice presidency. If that fails, he will make a pass at Kasich before the first ballot. Kasich definitely controls the delegates in his home state of Ohio.

     Kasich’s problem is that he honestly believes that he has a shot at winning the nomination in subsequent balloting. Not a chance! The establishment would hand the nomination over to someone new [Romney, Bush, or Ryan] before opting to go for Kasich. Another real disaster scenario.

     It is very doubtful that, given the Cruz field team’s organizing skills and the establishment’s advantage, Trump could win the nomination in subsequent floor votes, once the delegates are unbound after the initial floor vote. In this scenario, Cruz would win, but there will be tremendous fallout. Under this situation, Trump will have entered the convention with 2 million popular votes more than his nearest opponents, along with the most delegates, but not the majority of delegates.

      The average GOP voter will not understand the party rules, nor care to listen to excuses about why the leading vote getter and delegate collector—in an, at one time, more than ten-person candidate field—was denied the nomination. The average GOP voter will feel that Trump was screwed by their enemy as well—the GOP establishment. The party would implode!

     Incidentally, there is a trap that’s been laid here for Cruz. If, before the primaries, Cruz attempts to argue that this process is rational, he will draw the wrath of voters who don’t understand process but know fairness. He will pay a heavy price in these future primary states to the benefit of Trump. That is because, like him or not, American Republicans will believe, and overwhelmingly support, the case that Trump is making: he should be the nominee because he got the most votes. The easiest argument for John Q. Public to understand!

      The prediction here is that Trump prevails by a whisker…or even less.