Well, it’s still debatable even with his huge primary win in New York yesterday and the likelihood of the party front-runner doing very well in a handful of northeast primaries next week. As you have probably noticed, most regular observers emphasize he’ll need to win on the first ballot or he won’t win at all.
Why? While earned delegates to the convention will be pledged to vote for him in the first round, they will be free to vote for whomever they want after that, and many of those delegates don’t want Trump. Senate leader Mitch McConnell has estimated about 60% of the Trump delegates won’t vote for him after the first round.
While perhaps surprising, there is usually no necessary connection between primary voting and who are the delegates chosen to represent the state at the Republican convention. Though they are pledged to vote on the first ballot for the candidate chosen in the primary, they don’t necessarily support the candidate themselves.
It’s important to understand that delegate slates are worked out in a different way in each state, but the commonality is that they are made up largely of party insiders who feel more loyalty to the party than to any particular candidate, at least if that candidate seems beyond the pale. To most insiders Donald J. Trump does not represent “Republican values” (I’ll leave it to you to decide what those are).
In order to stop Trump from getting the 1237 votes needed to win the nomination on the first ballot, the Republican fractured “establishment” has the hope that Cruz and Kasich will grab up enough delegates in upcoming primaries to cut into Trump’s chances of reaching 1237.
In this regard I just read that Ted Cruz has gathered up most of defunct candidate Marco Rubio’s 17 delegates in Minnesota, another organizational coup like in Colorado, but more fodder for Trump’s narrative of a rigged election (of course, as you may have noticed Trump has added some election operatives to his campaign team of late, but he will likely win the battle of narratives by describing their actions only as self defense).
In addition to whatever pledged delegates the anti-Trump forces can gather, there are 108 delegates (by one estimate) who are “unbound”, party leaders who seem inclined to vote for anyone but Trump, though some have indicated their vote would reflect the primary voting and who knows how successful the cajoling of the Trump camp will be between now and July.
In line with the “rigged” narrative, though, Trump has been handed a God send in the form of the Pennsylvania primary next Tuesday, which has to be odder than most . The state has 71 delegates but only 17 are pledged to reflect the primary voting in the state. The other 54? Well, those are half of the 108 unbound delegates mentioned above, allowed to vote for whomever they choose at the convention. Why so many in one state? I have no idea, but even if Trump has a big win there, he can be assured of only 17 delegates (and that for the first round) while who knows about the other 54?
He seems likely to hold that up as exhibit “A” of the big fix……but I bet we see some rounding up of stray delegates by the Trump camp in upcoming weeks, while also playing the victim card. Have you ever seen someone so skilled at playing both ends against the middle?
P. S. – In trying to illuminate the battle for delegates in the Republican primary, I might have confused more than helped. If you have questions please reply using the “comment” button near the end of all that gobbledygook at the bottom of his post.
Also, for a more complete description of the upcoming Pennsylvania primary and the overall Primary voting picture go to: http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2016/04/will-pennsylvanias-gop-primary-trump-the-partys-convention.