Forget everything you know about politics and campaigns. There is a battle brewing over the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. And it might turn out to be the bout of the century. But, the opponents in this knockdown, drag-out fight aren’t using their fists. Instead, Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are using a far more political weapon, delegates. And Ted Cruz might be setting Donald Trump up for a knockout blow.
By now, the rhetoric is familiar to even the most jaded political buff. Businessman Donald Trump is the front-runner of the 2016 Republican Party presidential primaries. Donald Trump has won the majority of the primaries and caucuses. He’s far ahead of his closest competitor in both popular votes and delegates. The problem for Donald Trump is that his closest competitor is Senator Ted Cruz. And Ted Cruz has done everything he can to tighten the race.
But, as it turns out, Ted Cruz doesn’t need to win the nomination outright. Because, Ted Cruz has a contingency plan. And depending on who you support, Cruz’s contingency is either a brilliant political strategy or political gamesmanship at it’s worst.
According to Politico, there are two parts to a primary race. You probably know the first part. Registered republican voters go to polling places on a primary election day to select their favored candidate. Most people assume that the primary vote is the end of the matter, but in fact, a primary vote is just the first step in the process.
Next, local and statewide Republican party organizations hold small conventions like the national convention. During the smaller conventions, the delegates are selected. The delegates during the state and local convention are not necessarily the same people who voted during the primary election.
Republican delegates are only required to follow the popular vote on the first ballot. Which means, if another ballot must be taken for any reason, the delegate can choose whichever candidate they favor.
Senator Ted Cruz is using this to his advantage. On Saturday, April 16, Republican party organizations across the country held 20 conventions. 90 delegate slots were up for grabs. The lion’s share of those delegate spots went to Ted Cruz supporters.
The pattern repeats again and again. Donald Trump wins a primary contest, but later the delegate spots go to Ted Cruz supporters. The delegate losses put Donald Trump at a disadvantage for the Republican National Convention, unless he can win almost half of the remaining delegate slots, and fill them with his supporters. Can the man whose political platform relies on the ability to close deals, change tactics this late in the game?
Maybe not. According to Business Insider, Donald Trump is already planning what he will say if he loses the Republican presidential primary. Reportedly, Trump’s plans involve a spin which may have already started.
The last Republican primaries are June 7. The Republican National Convention is July 18-21. Both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are set to do battle in Cleveland this year, but it will be the delegates who ultimately pick the winner.
[Photos by David Becker, Mark Wilson/Getty Images]