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Trump Must Win on the First Ballot But Doesn't Need 1,237 Pledged to Do It
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The markets have Trump winning the GOP nomination at 60% and the likelihood of a contested convention at 57%, or a 43% chance the nomination is decided on the first ballot. It’s inconceivable that Cruz wins in the first round. Consequently, we’re looking at an 17% chance accorded to Trump if it goes into extra innings. Even that strikes me as far too optimistic. After the first round, there will be mass defections of Trump’s initial pledged delegates. Party rules only require fidelity on the first ballot. Forget about poaching delegates from Rubio and Kasich, Trump won’t be able to hold onto his own.

Trump has to win in round one. That does not necessarily mean that he needs to hit 1,237 in pledged delegates going into the convention, however. There are 109 unpledged delegates in the initial round who are not formally tied to any particular candidate. My best guess is that Trump will come in with 1,200 pledged delegates. The strategy then becomes getting ~37 of the 109 unpledged delegates to vote for Trump in the first round.

Can Trump get one-in-three of these unpledged delegates? Nine of them are from Guam, which is at the southern end of the Northern Mariana Islands where Trump won 73% of the vote. Another 9 come from the south Pacific as well, in the form of American Samoa. There are 3 in the Virgin Islands and one he’ll get out of North Dakota. The balance in play are from Pennsylvania. They are the biggest question marks. Many have said they’ll back whoever wins the popular vote, presumably even if it’s just a plurality, but these commitments aren’t backed by anything. If Trump gets close to 50% in the state, persuading these people becomes realistic.

Paul Manafort should be working exclusively on the unpledged delegates in the first round. Trying to win in subsequent rounds will be as futile as king Canute trying to control the tides.

(Republished from The Audacious Epigone by permission of author or representative)
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  1. Kasich and Rubio are sitting on more than enough delegates to put Trump over the top. A deal can be made.

  2. AE,

    The thing that the GOPe types — the Cruzbots especially — keep blocking out is that Trump is a multi-billionaire.

    If delegates are all political racketeers, they can all be bought.

    You don't think Trump might simply -buy- GOP pledged delegate votes?

    If Trump needs 50 delegates to win on the first round, he has the petty cash to blow $50 million at a million for each vote.

    S**t talks and money walks.

    Seeing the face of Sen. Mitch McConnell after losing to such a turn of events would be priceless.

  3. Sykes,

    In the first round they are pledged, though. Unless I'm mistaken, those delegates have to go for the person they're attached to in the first round. By the time they can be opened up they are no longer beholden to the candidate they are attached to so even if Kasich wanted them to get behind Trump, they wouldn't have to do it if they didn't want to.

    Mil-Tech Bard,

    Great point. I've seen it written that these delegates could almost quite literally be monetarily bribed and it wouldn't violate any of the convention's rules.

    There are people who maintain Trump actually wants a way to heroically bow out. Well, he'll be able to prove them right or wrong if he ends up coming in just short of the 1,237. No, he hasn't spend much on ads, but these potential dollars would be the most effective of all!

  4. I think the real chances of a second ballot is dropping quick. Next week Trump wins five primaries. All of a sudden #nevertrump is looking stupid and by next week it will no longer be mentioned.

    Cruz will make his last stand in Indiana and Nebraska, but losing six in a row is going to make it hard for him to make a case. A week from now, the only reason to vote for Cruz is to be an arse. That's not a great reason to vote.

  5. >>I've seen it written that these delegates could almost quite
    >>literally be monetarily bribed and it wouldn't violate any of
    >>the convention's rules.

    Live by racketeering.

    Die By racketeering.

    The karma fits.

  6. Z,

    Here's to hoping you're right.

    My sense is that so-called electoral momentum is much ado about (almost) nothing in this nomination process. Hopefully being pummeled six times in a row will see Cruz limp into Indiana and come up short there. The markets are about split on the state.

    Nebraska is a closed primary and it's right at the epicenter of cuckservatism. Cruz will win it big no matter what, on the order of his Wisconsin victory, maybe wider. West Virginia goes that day, too, and Trump will win it by a comfortable margin. Depending on the desperation, the story might still be "Cruz still hanging on as campaigns turn towards West Coast".

  7. AE,

    The thing about politics and racketeering is "What have you done for me lately".

    The GOPe's blatant deny Trump the win at all costs political style creates the political cover for Trump's straight up delegate buying.

    As in, see what those dirty so and so made me do to win.

    The problem with playing Hama Rules — AKA "Rule or die, There are no other rules." — is the ruthless guy with the bigger army always wins.

    Trump's got a bigger army of Benjamin's for Cleveland.

  8. Mil-Tech Bard,

    The GOPe's ongoing bad faith justifies Trump doing whatever the hell he wants vis-a-vis the Republican party, up to and including buying and selling as many of their sorry asses as he sees fit.

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