Will the delegate math trump Trump?

I am not the best predictor of general election results. In 1990, I predicted that John Silber would easily become the governor of Massachusetts and in 2008 that John McCain would win a landslide Electoral College victory over Barack Obama. Of course, both predictions were wrong.

However, I’ve been good at predicting the Republican Party nominee. If we look at the 2012 and 2008 races, the front runner did not emerge until late. In both contests, it looked as though an “insurgent” candidate was the inevitable nominee. I knew that McCain and Romney were the inevitable nominees despite the media driven polls prior to the primaries.

2012 GOP Presidential Nomination RealClear Politics average. Click to enlarge.

Look at what occurred in 2012 in the RealClear Politics poll averages. Clearly, you can see that until March 1st, no candidate broke the 35% threshold in the polling average. Candidates see-sawed into the lead each month to be the alternative to Romney who just hung in there at a 25% ceiling until mid-January.

2008 GOP Presidential Nomination RealClear Politics average. Click to enlarge.

Likewise, McCain’s rise in the polls in 2008 didn’t come until very late. Rudy Giuliani had a commanding lead until it evaporated in January. McCain never had more than 25% and was often in fourth place at 12% until December. For a brief period, Mike Huckabee broke out. But Giuliani’s lead in 2008 was consistently higher than Trump’s in 2012 for a longer period of time. Yet many in the media claim Trump is an unheard of phenomenon and no one can touch his commanding lead.

This time, I predict Jeb Bush will emerge as the eventual nominee.

What?!

Yes, you read that right: Jeb Bush.

Why Jeb Bush will win the nomination

Bush is not my candidate, but he will be the nominee. You see, it’s all rigged. The polls mean nothing prior to actual votes being cast. Rubio will be his running mate — or Nikki Haley. Now before you discount this, hear me out. The reason I say it’s rigged, is not to say that your vote doesn’t count. Your vote is counted. What I mean is that before Super Tuesday, the governors of states, who have a lot of sway in the Republican Party primaries, will usually settle on a “favorite son.”

Who were these favorite sons?

1960 — Nixon, sitting vice president
1964 — Goldwater
1968 — Nixon, former vice president
1972 — Nixon
1976 — Ford, sitting president after Nixon’s resignation.
1980 — Reagan, runner-up to Ford
1984 — Reagan
1988 — H.W. Bush, sitting vice president
1992 — H.W. Bush
1996 — Dole, runner up to Bush and Ford’s vice presidential nominee
2000 — W. Bush, son of H.W. Bush
2004 — W. Bush
2008 — McCain, runner-up to W. Bush
2012 — Romney, second runner-up to John McCain
2016 — ?

With the exception of Goldwater, it has been the “favorite son” syndrome since 1960. No sitting president has lost the nomination in recent memory, even though Gerald Ford came close to losing to Ronald Reagan in 1976. In an open contest, the nomination goes to a sitting or past vice president, to the runner up in the last primary contest or to the son of George Bush. It is predictable.

I don’t see the Republican governors supporting Trump or Cruz. They will settle on someone who is safe and who they think represents the purposes of the Republican Party. That person is Jeb Bush.

The reason why this happens is because the delegate count is not proportional to the vote. Almost all later states are winner take all. And even though the primaries are more proportional than ever before, there still is the likelihood that the candidate with roughly one-third of the vote by Super Tuesday will have the majority of the delegates and will win the nomination.

How the Delegate Count Works

  • The first states to hold primaries, as usual, will be Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Voters in those states will go to the polls in February under the party rules passed in 2014. States that attempt to jump ahead of those four states will be punished with the loss of delegates.
  • States that hold their primaries between March 1 and March 14, 2016, will award their delegates on a proportional basis, meaning that no one candidate could likely win the nomination before late-voting states get to hold their primaries. Most of these states have a threshold for receiving delegates, which makes it likely that the front runner will get the majority.
  • Most states voting on March 15, 2016, or later will award their delegates on a winner-take-all basis. Some delegates are unbound, but they usually vote with the state winner or with the national front-runner.

In a four-way race, it is mathematically possible to get a majority delegate count with a small minority/plurality. In the winner-take-all primary states, you don’t need a majority to win all the delegates. In fact, in these states, it is mathematically possible to get 100 percent of the delegates with 25.1% of the popular vote in a close four-way race.

In the 2016 Republican primaries, 1,237 of 2,472 delegates are needed for a majority. It’s no accident that just 16 states will allocate 1260 delegates and most of these are winner-take all.

  1. California — 172 — June 7, 2016 (winner-take-all statewide and by district)
  2. Texas — 155 — March 1, 2016 (proportional with 20% threshold)
  3. Florida — 99 — March 15, 2016 (winner-take-all)
  4. New York — 95 — April 19, 2016 (proportional with 20% threshold)
  5. Georgia — 76 — March 1, 2016 (proportional with 20% threshold)
  6. North Carolina — 72 — March 15, 2016 (proportional)
  7. Pennsylvania — 71 — April 26 (winner-take-all)
  8. Illinois — 69 — March 15, 2016 (winner-take-all)
  9. Ohio — 66 — March 15, 2016 (winner-take-all)
  10. Michigan — 59 — March 8, 2016 (proportional with 15% threshold)
  11. Tennessee — 58 — March 1, 2016 (proportional with 20% threshold)
  12. Arizona — 58 — March 22, 2016 (winner-take-all)
  13. Indiana — 57 — May 3, 2016 (winner-take-all statewide and by district)
  14. Missouri — 52 — March 15, 2016 (winner take all above 50% or by district)
  15. New Jersey — 51 — June 7, 2016 (winner take all)
  16. Alabama — 50 — March 1, 2016 (proportional)

TOTAL — 1260 delegates

Well-organized campaigns do well in the states they absolutely have to win. This was John F. Kennedy’s strategy in the 1960 primaries. He and Robert Kennedy, his brother and campaign manager, picked the states they knew they had to win and concentrated there.

This is also the reason that the states appear in the order they do. States will lose their delegates if they do not hold their primaries when the Republican National Committee says so. There is a delegate math that ensures that a certain type of candidate will win. Note that California, which is the largest delegate count state, is at the very end. By that time, whoever is the front runner usually wins California outright and gets almost all the delegates.

Florida is similar. Florida is a huge state it has the third most delegates behind California and Texas. In the past, Florida move its primary up, so that we would influence the other primary elections. But the Democratic and Republican National Committees penalized Florida for doing this. If you remember, Hillary lost all of her delegates and that is the reason why Barack Obama won the nomination for the Democrats even though she won the popular vote. The Republicans did something similar. Although Romney won Florida outright, they made it so that he would lose only half his delegates. In the end, Romney still won handily.

Another nuance is that when a candidate with delegates drops out of the race, his committed delegates are bound to the candidate, but the uncommitted delegates can be ceded to the front runner or the “favorite son.”

So this is how it is rigged. They count all the votes, but many (even possibly most) votes don’t add up in the delegate math because there are these nuances in the rules.

You may ask yourself, why doesn’t either party do a straight out popular vote count to determine its nominee in the primaries? The reason for this is that in a multiple person race it will drag on and no one will end up with the majority. They want to make it look as though the party is united behind one candidate. So psychologically, when Republicans and Democrats see a candidate in the lead, who they think can bring the party victory in November, they will coalesce around that one candidate.

Let me reiterate, that is neither Cruz nor Trump.

For as long as Bush or Rubio have 12% of the vote in the early primaries, they are the two front runners. I believe that Rubio will be the next nominee after Bush in 2020 or 2024, but I am getting ahead of myself.

The reason Trump has been so popular in the 2015/2016 polls is because he means big money to the major media outlets. They want him to win. First, because he is vastly entertaining and it’s making them millions of dollars. Second, they believe that he is the worst possible candidate for the Republicans. The liberal media outlets want him to win so the Republicans can lose in November. They see him as easily beatable by Queen Hillary who they believe will coast to an easy coronation.

It is a bizarre Orwellian notion that the media can somehow wag the dog and influence primary elections. Thankfully, they’re almost never right. None of the major conservative media moguls are willing to say that the emperor has no clothes. No one is willing to say what everyone knows.

The only one so far I know who is doing this is Glenn Beck, who doesn’t seem to think that what he says matters to his popularity too much. Glenn Beck says a lot of crazy stuff, but in this case he is accurate. Beck said on January 15th that a Trump presidency would be a “monster much, much worse than anything that Barack Obama could have dreamt.”

A Trump nomination would be a disaster for the Republican Party. Not only would Trump lose the general election, but it would change the Republican Party forever. A huge number of Republicans will leave the party if Trump wins. Many Republicans, including myself, would see that the only viable alternative to this disaster would be a third party candidate.

So while I’d like to the Republican Party implode in favor of a replacement, such as the Constitution Party, I recognize that this will probably never happen. The powers that be behind the scenes are not so stupid as to let the GOP commit suicide.

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