Saturday, April 09, 2016

Cruz To Shut Out Trump In Indiana?

by JASmius

This kind of thing is the source for my "Cruz is the tortoise and Trump is the hare" metaphor.  Simply put, Ted Cruz is a (yes, Lady Michelle) anti-"establishment" professional politician (which is NOT an oxymoron), which means that he's a "true" conservative who knows and understands how politics and party rules and the presidential nominating process works, because it is his job to do so.  Because if you don't get elected, ya can't do nothin' with yer high-falutin' principles.  Whereas Donald Trump is a loudmouthed, boorish, mendacious bully of a greenhorn who doesn't know the first thing about politics because his stupendous narcissism told him he didn't need to learn anything about it because, natch, he already knew everything, and how hard could it be?  That and his personality cult and two billion dollars of free media and Nuremberg/Jerry Springer-style rallies would be all it took to win the most primaries/cauci and therefore the nomination.

But it's not quite that simple.  Primaries and cauci, the entire nominating process, is a private endeavor that is the sole property of the respective parties, who can make up any rules they want to govern them.  And fundamental to that process is that voters in primaries and cauci vote not for the candidates, but for elector slots - i.e. delegates - who in turn are the ones who determine the eventual nominee at the national convention (akin to the Electoral College).  The actual people, however, who are selected for those delegate slots are determined at State conventions, and while those assigned to the respective candidates according to the primary/caucus results are bound to them by party rules on the first ballot at the national conventions, if no candidate reaches a majority, as would be the case in a contested convention, as the GOP's will almost certainly be in Cleveland this summer, then the delegates are released from their candidate commitments and can vote as they choose thereafter.

Trump and his campaign "brain"trust didn't know any of this.  Ted Cruz and his Big Bang Theory-esque data nerds know it front to back, side to side, up and down, and the other eight dimensions of spacetime, and have been preparing for this process for several years.  Which is why Cruz has functionally poached Louisiana, is poaching Arizona, is sweeping Colorado today, and is headed towards doing the same thing in the Hoosier State:

Indiana hasn’t cast its ballots for president yet, but Donald Trump is already losing.

Republican Party insiders in the State will select twenty-seven delegates to the national convention on Saturday, and Trump is assured to be nearly shut out of support, according to interviews with a dozen party leaders and officials involved in the delegate selection process. Anti-Trump sentiment runs hot among GOP leadership in Indiana, and it’s driving a virulent rejection of the mogul among likely delegates....

Indiana GOP insiders are working to engineer slates of delegates — three from each of nine congressional districts — that will turn their backs on Trump at a contested convention in July. Another twenty-seven will be elected at a State committee meeting next week.

Indiana’s delegates will be bound to the results of the State’s May 3rd primary on the first vote in Cleveland, and Trump is expected to be competitive in that contest. (There is no current public polling of the State, but several GOP leaders suggested he'd be competitive in at least a couple of the State's nine Congressional districts.) But if Trump fails to clinch the nomination, they’ll be free to vote their conscience — and that means a rapid rejection of Trump. The State’s Republican national committeeman, John Hammond, has vocally called to reject Trump as well.

That would mark just another blow to Trump’s chances, should the convention go to a second ballot as expected. Though he’s won more votes and State primaries than rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich, Trump has failed spectacularly to win separate delegate selection battles to his better-organized rivals. Though in most cases, he’s lost because of Cruz’s superior organization, Indiana appears to be a break from the norm. Most of the hostility to Trump there is homegrown.

Gotta love that innate Hoosier common sense and decency.

And no, Trumplicans, this is not "cheating" or "stealing"; this is how the party presidential nominating process works.  It's how it's always worked in the half-century of the "primary era".  It's just that usually, one candidate enters as the prohibitive favorite (something like Jeb Bush was supposed to be this time) and doesn't under-perform, or breaks out from the pack early on and becomes the presumptive front-runner, and the other candidates fade and drop out and we have our nominee by no later than the first Tuesday in March; sometimes even earlier than that.  Full-length primary battles and contested conventions hardly ever happen - the last Republican one was the Ford-Reagan battle royale of 1976 - but when they do, all this "inside baseball" stuff, the nuts & bolts guts of winning a party presidential nomination, rises to the public consciousness and into the light of day.

Ted Cruz and his campaign have always known about it, did their homework, and massively prepared for it as well or better than even Barack Obama did on the Democrat side eight years ago.  Donald Trump - or, rather, his flunkies, as the only thing he reads is his Twitter feed and magazines with "scratch & sniff" centerfolds - read about it in the papers this week.

And that is why "outsiders" don't succeed in politics, and "insiders" do.  Even the anti-"establishment" ones.  And why Donald Trump may be seeing his chances at the GOP presidential nomination slowly slip-slidin' away.

UPDATE: Don't look now, Trumplicans, but two-thirds of your fellow-travelers are prepared to vote for "Dudley Do-Right" in November:

Oh, sure, that would still be about one-eighth of 'Pubbies who would defect or quit, and that would probably be enough to sink Senator Cruz in a close race with the Queen, which every head-to-head Cruz-Hillary poll indicates it would be.  But to hear the strident Kool Aid-swillers in the Trumplican ranks (judging by their Facebook feeds), one would get the impression that if Il Douche gets out-organized for the nomination ("robbed," in Trumplican parlance), they'll secede from the Union altogether and go riot their way to power in some small South American country or run their own traveling production of Evita or something.  That two-thirds of Trumplicans retain that level of maturity or are finally waking up from their trances as their hero's chances start to fade is as heartening as it is frankly astonishing.  Is the GOP's long national nightmare finally over?

Of course it isn't.  Because narcissists never accept reality when it turns against them, and that's because they think they have the power to bend reality to their will, producing delusionalism like the following from Trump's de facto Putinoid campaign manager, Paul Manafort:

“Our target date is June 7th, but our goal is in the middle of May to be the presumptive nominee,” Paul Manafort, Trump’s newly installed convention manager who has been given broad authority to shape the campaign going forward, said in a wide-ranging interview here....

“After Wyoming, [Cruz] is done,” Manafort said. “We’re going to have our act together. We’re going to start putting numbers on the board and that will become infectious.” [emphasis added]

You see, this is why I don't think I could be an effective political operative: I'm incapable of not living in reality, and of lying to myself, my boss, or spouting BS on anybody's behalf.  It's also why I could never work for Donald Trump, even if I were loonily and dishonorably inclined to do so (that, and my mother taught me to <AHEM> keep my hands to myself).  Ted Cruz is not going to be "done after Wyoming" (which is next week, actually), or the middle of May, or June 7th, for that matter.  Trump would have to win, after Cruz's curb-stomping of him in Colorado and Indiana today, 60% of the remaining delegates to clinch before the convention.  Lotsa luck with that.  He couldn't do so by "mid-May" even if he skunked Cruz in every contest over the next month.  It's undiluted fantasizing.

You can't "get your act together" like pulling a Green Lantern ring out of a box of Cracker Jacks, unless The Donald has fairy godparents....

....and I'm guessing he doesn't.  Which means Manafort is trying to talk a good game with less than nothing to back it up.

And that may be why Roger Stone never actually stopped being Trump's REAL campaign manager at all.  How do you hold delegates beyond the first ballot?  You "menace" them into line.  It may be the only hope the New York liberal conman has left.

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