I’ve gone back and forth on my level of support for Donald Trump. I was originally a Rand Paul supporter. When Senator Paul dropped out, I was left without a candidate. Mr. Trump was never at the top of my list, but he was on the radar.
I never liked his personality or tone, but I did like his no-nonsense approach to Washington politics. I’ve been able to overlook his petty attacks because I haven’t been able to accept the alternative of Hillary Clinton as President.
I don’t agree with all of Trump’s policies, he’s not the conservative that Rand Paul or even Ted Cruz is. But some of his policies are conservative enough for me to consider.
I didn’t make up my mind until yesterday.
Last night I was watching the Republican Town Hall on CNN and a few things he said really stood out to me that helped me make my decision.
The first thing that stood out to me was his answer to the Heidi Cruz situation:
His response was first to say it was not a bad picture of Heidi Cruz, then he said “I didn’t start it”, and finally he blamed Ted Cruz and Mitt Romney.
The picture of Heidi was obviously not a good one and was meant to portray her in an unattractive light. Here’s the picture, please judge for yourself:
Donald Trump’s comments reminded me of someone else, someone who is the master of saying one thing, doing another, and then when confronted, blaming someone else.
Donald Trump is Barack Obama. Donald Trump is a mean Barack Obama.
But if that wasn’t enough, listen to his answer on the role of government:
Now in his defense, this is a tricky question. A good handler could’ve prepared him for this, but still this isn’t a question you’d be expecting. Sometimes when you’re interviewing for a job, someone will ask you a question like this to throw you off you’re game and see what you’re made of. If you’re thrown off you’re game, you naturally revert to your comfort zone. Last night we saw exactly what Donald Trump is made of.
Trump listed the top 3 functions of government to be 1. Security 2. Healthcare and 3.Education!!! Does he not know that conservatives have been fighting federal control of healthcare and education for decades? These are pillars of conservatism. He went on to list housing and neighborhoods as other priorities for government.
Show me a conservative who thinks housing, healthcare, and neighborhoods are functions of a federal government and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t know the difference between conservatism and socialism.
In case there was any confusion on the question, Anderson Cooper asked him to clarify his response. Donald Trump reiterated his belief in government control of healthcare and then couldn’t give a coherent response to the line between government and private control.
Does this remind you of anyone? Once again the similarities in tone and substance of Donald Trump to Barack Obama is too similar for comfort.
I was already struggling with his policies. I never knew whether to believe Donald Trump of the 90’s and early 2000’s or Donald Trump of 2016. I was never really sure whether he said one thing but believed something else and that terrified me. I’m no longer questioning.
Mr. Trump showed me a few things about himself in this Town Hall. This is not a person I ever want to be President of the United States and I will not vote for him. I understand the Trump phenomenon. I wrote an article defending his supporters a few weeks ago. I support the Trump movement to shake up Washington and hold Republicans accountable for their inaction, but I do not support the man leading it.
I know what you’re thinking, if Trump is the nominee, a vote for anyone else it a vote for Hillary Clinton. Yes, Hillary Clinton is every bit as bad, if not worse, than Mr. Trump and she doesn’t belong in the White House either. I compromised to vote for Romney in 2012, our differences were petty enough to hold my nose and vote. I would have to compromise my beliefs as a conservative and my decency as a human being to vote for Trump and I’m not going to do that.
Donald Trump has a sizable lead in the primary delegate count. Is it too late for Ted Cruz to overcome Trump and win the nomination?
Let’s take a look at the numbers. As it stands right now:
There are still 18 states left to vote and with 944 delegates left to be decided, Senator Cruz can still reach the needed number, but it will be an uphill battle.
Here’s the good news for Ted Cruz:
- There’s not a lot of polling out there for most of the upcoming states. But from what we do have, Cruz is winning the last 2 polls from Wisconsin’s winner-take-all 44 delegate primary on April 5th. He was down by 10 a month ago. If he can score a comeback win here in a blue collar state, it will be a good sign of movement.
- In delegate-rich California, Cruz has shrunk Trump’s lead from 16 earlier this month, to 1 point in the most recent poll. There are 172 delegates available in this winner-take-all June primary. A Cruz win here would be huge in keeping Donald Trump from getting the nomination.
- There are no more southern state’s left. Trump has absolutely dominated in the South. The map still isn’t overwhelmingly in Cruz’s favor, but it definitely is better for him. Many of the states still left (South Dakota, North Dakota, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Nebraska, and Montana) are geographically and/or demographically similar to states he’s won in the past.
- Marco Rubio could at any time release his delegates. If he does, you would have to believe the majority would go to Cruz over Trump.
Here comes the uphill battle part:
Trump is ahead of Cruz by more than 270 delegates and he is practically guaranteed wins in New York (95 delegates) and New Jersey (51) and probably a few other smaller northeastern states. He’s also holding small leads in Pennsylvania (71) over Kasich and California (172) over Cruz and within striking distance of Cruz in Wisconsin (44). With the exception of New York, these are winner-take-all states.
So is it possible? Yes. Is it likely, probably not. Cruz would need to win 772 of the 944 (or 82%) of the remaining delegates to win. Even if every single Rubio delegate were released and decided to switch to Cruz, he would still need about 67% of the remaining delegates to win. Compare that to Trump who only needs to win about 53% of the remaining delegates to win.
Cruz’s best hope would be to secure those Rubio delegates, win the seven states we listed earlier that he should, pull off wins in Wisconsin, California, and a few surprises, and have Kasich play the part of spoiler for Trump in Pennsylvania. He still may not be able to win the nomination outright before the convention, but if Trump doesn’t either, Cruz would be in a strong position to make a case at a contested convention.
We’ve been hearing about it a lot lately. The possibility that neither Republican candidate will get enough delegates to win the nomination looks more and more likely as the primary season continues. So what happens in this scenario?
For an explanation on how delegates are chosen, see our previous article:
Technically, a convention can be labeled contested, brokered, or open interchangeably. But a contested or brokered convention can imply different things.
In the event any candidate doesn’t get the predetermined number of delegates, a convention is considered open or contested from the start. Almost all of the delegates are bound to vote for their assigned candidate from anywhere between the first 1-3 ballots, depending on their state’s rules.
After the first couple of ballots most of the delegates will be released to vote for whichever candidate they please. If the delegates are able to find a consensus candidate relatively quickly and can get to the needed number of delegates on a ballot with little problems, the contested part of the convention is over.
If the delegates aren’t able to find consensus, whether on the first or fiftieth ballot, it’s possible the convention can become what is considered brokered. The brokered part comes in the way of trading and dealing for delegate’s votes, often with the involvement and influence of “party elites”. This could mean bringing in a compromise candidate who didn’t even compete in the primaries.
The most recent example of a brokered convention is the 1948 Republican National Convention where Governor Thomas Dewey won the nomination on the third ballot after some political horse-trading.
If neither Trump or Cruz get to 1,237 delegates, you can expect there to be some sort of influence from the party to find a solution. There are some who think if this happens it leaves the door wide open to bring in someone like Mitt Romney, John Kasich, or Paul Ryan who they believe will unite the party.
Contested or brokered delegates have become extremely rare. Ultimately, the delegates will decide the nominee. I wouldn’t count on any Trump or Cruz delegate supporting anyone else but their guy. It’s probably going to be one of the two, but anything is still possible at this point.
Yesterday we took a look at the potential candidates for Donald Trump’s Vice President pick. Today we are evaluating the choices for the only other viable Republican candidate left in the race: Senator Ted Cruz.
Cruz’s list is going to be quite different than Mr. Trump’s. Cruz is going to be looking for someone with serious credibility. Even though the party is beginning to rally around him, they still don’t feel good about it. A solid and proven Vice President would held booster his case.
Here are the top options for Ted:
- Susana Martinez– This would be a home run choice for Cruz. She’s been successful as Governor of New Mexico, a swing state. She’s well respected on both sides of the party. She does have an ethics investigation right now, but it seems harmless. Having 2 Hispanics on the ticket would be historic.
- Nikki Haley– She’s a high profile and popular Southern governor. She has fans on both sides of the party. She doesn’t really bring anything to the table electorally, but she’s likable enough and would stand as a clear contrast to Secretary Clinton.
- Marco Rubio– Rubio adds a lot as the VP. He has backers on both sides of the party and he’s still popular with the voters of Florida. Rubio is out of a job soon, despite his comments, he’d be more than happy to serve as Cruz’s VP.
- Carly Fiorina– She and Ted have been very chummy since her endorsement. Carly could fill the other side of the ticket with an outsider, a theme Cruz is desperately trying to make. She’s also been a relentless attack dog focused on Clinton.
- Brian Sandoval– Another popular Hispanic governor from a swing state here. There’s so many positives with this guy. He’s got judicial experience and he plays well with both sides of the party and aisle.
- John Kasich– Kasich is the popular Governor of Ohio. I can stop there. Kasich would be a bridge to the establishment and because of his lengthy record could ease the notion that Cruz couldn’t work with anybody if elected president. The downside for him is it might anger the base to choose someone with close ties to Washington.
- Scott Walker– Walker is a conservative hero who was the first victim of the Trump machine in the 2016 race. Gov. Walker is well liked on both sides of the party. I’m not sure he would put Wisconsin into play, but he has experience fighting and winning effective, but decisive battles.
- Condi Rice– Condi is widely respected by Republicans as well as many Democrats. She’s got the national defense and foreign affairs experience to pad Cruz’s resume. She’s a moderate, that could work both for and against Cruz. It could be a risky pick, but it could also be rewarding.
- John Thune– He’s not well known, but he’s a respected presidential-looking Senator. He could add Washington credibility if that’s what they are looking for.
- Mitch Daniels– The former Indiana Governor and current Purdue University President is a very popular conservative. He’s known for cutting taxes and the size of government in his state. He would be a smart pick for Ted Cruz.
This week we are taking a different approach to our Veepstakes. Since Trump and Cruz are very different candidates with very different types of supporters, we’re breaking down the potential picks separate by candidate.
Donald Trump Veepstakes:
- Rudy Giuliani– The popular former Mayor of NYC just recently endorsed Mr. Trump. He has first hand experience dealing with terrorism. He would help boost Trump’s defense resume and a Trump/Giuliani would put New York into play.
- Jeff Sessions– The Alabama Senator and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee did Trump a huge favor when he endorsed him a few weeks ago. Sessions is a conservative stalwart and expert in defense. This would be another chance for Trump to buck the system and choose one of their own.
- Joe Arpaio– This is an unconventional pick, but Donald Trump is an unconventional candidate. Sheriff Joe is a leading advocate for border security and fighting illegal immigration. Trump’s supporters would love this pick.
- Condi Rice– Condi is widely respected by Republicans as well as many Democrats. She’s got the national defense and foreign affairs experience to pad the resume of Trump, who people worry lacks knowledge in this arena. She’s a moderate, that could work both for and against him. It could be a risky pick, but it could also be rewarding.
- John Kasich– Kasich has raised his national profile while at the same time maintaining his popularity in Ohio. Whoever the nominee is, would be foolish not to consider him.
- Rick Scott– The Florida Governor recently endorsed Trump. He doesn’t bring much politically, but has won against some pretty big names in Florida, that might be good enough.
- Chris Christie– Christie is looking less and less like a winner everyday. But he has been an effective attack dog and we would all like to see him debate a Democrat this fall. A Trump/Christie ticket may play well in New Jersey.
- Ben Carson– Carson too is looking less like a winner these days. I don’t expect Trump to pick Carson, although you have to think there was some sort of agreement in place to get the endorsement.
- Brian Sandoval– A popular Hispanic governor from a swing state here. I don’t think he’s made any comments questioning his loyalty to Trump although he did endorse Rubio.
- Kelly Ayotte– She’s known as a moderate and a defense hawk. She’s in a tough reelection battle of her own, so she might want to steer clear here. I kind of doubt she is fond of Trump, but she could put New Hampshire into play.
Last night Arizona and Utah cast their votes for the Republican and Democrat nominee for President. Here’s what it means:
- The race has essentially been over for a while. Even though Bernie took 2 states last night to Hillary’s 1, she has a huge delegate lead that makes it impossible for Senator Sanders to overcome. He has a lot of money so expect him to stay in for the long haul, but unless something huge happens with this email scandal, Secretary Clinton will be the nominee.
- Nothing surprising happened. Trump won Arizona easily, and Cruz dominated in Utah. However, since Arizona has more delegates than Utah, Trump was able to grow his delegate lead last night.
- This was a great night for Trump. With Rubio out of the race Ted Cruz was supposed to be able to unite the opposition to defeat Trump. That didn’t happen and Trump continued to expand his lead over Cruz.
Two significant events happened last night involving the candidates outside of the voting.
- Ted Cruz picked up the endorsement of former Governor and candidate Jeb Bush. Any doubt that Senator Cruz is now the consensus Republican candidate is over. The party is putting all their hope in him to beat Trump. This works in favor of Trump too. It gives him ammunition to use against Cruz to label him as a Washington Insider.
- Donald Trump tweeted this last night:
Let me give you a little background here. A SuperPAC unaffiliated with Cruz used racy pictures of Donald Trump’s wife in an advertisement against Trump. Trump responded with this tweet threatening Cruz’s wife. He deleted it soon after and then tweeted it again! You can judge for yourself what to think of it.
Most people don’t realize that when they vote in a Presidential primary, they are voting not for the candidate, but for delegates who will vote for that candidate. In order to win the Republican nomination for President, a candidate needs to reach 1,237 out a total 2,472 delegates.
Delegates are a very confusing part of the nomination process. Each state is assigned their own amount of delegates and has their own rules and processes for allocating those delegates.
Here’s how the Republican Party decides how many delegates each state gets. Each state starts out with 10 delegates. Then for each congressional district, they get 3 more. Each state also get 3 more delegates for their top state party officials to use. Finally each state is rewarded for party loyalty: bonus delegates are given for voting for the Republican nominee in the most recent Presidential election and recently electing Republican officials (governor, US Senators, majority of US Representatives being Republican, and Republican control of state chambers).
Let’s use Georgia for an example. Here’s Georgia’s state delegation breakdown:
- 10 – At-large allocation that each state gets
- 42 – 14 Congressional districts x 3
- 3 – each states get 3 for their top party officials to use
- 21 – Bonus delegates for voting for Romney in 2012, electing a Republican governor and US Senator in 2014, >50% Republican US Representative delegation, and Republican control of both chambers of Georgia House & Senate.
- 76 – total Georgia delegates
Each state is then allowed to independently decide how they want to award their delegates to the candidates. Some states make it pretty easy and have winner-take-all contests. For example, this year Florida gives all of their 99 delegates to the candidate who got the most votes in their primary. Other states make it more complicated.
Let’s take a look at Georgia again. Georgia has a primary and uses the results to award delegates through this process:
- The state party’s 3 delegates always go to the candidate with the most votes statewide.
- If a candidate earns >50% of the total vote, they win all of the at-large (10) and bonus (21) delegates.
- If no one has >50%, the at-large and bonus delegates are divided proportionally between all candidates who received more than 20% of the vote.
- If a candidate fails to receive 20% of the total vote, they are not eligible for the above delegates.
- For each congressional district: if a candidate receives >50% of the total vote in that district, they will receive all 3 of those congressional district delegates. If no one receives >50% in that district, the candidate with the most votes receives 2 delegates and the second place finisher receives 1 delegate.
Here’s how Georgia broke down in the 2016 Primaries:
- Donald Trump 39.1%, Marco Rubio 24.1%, Ted Cruz 23.7%. Ben Carson and John Kasich failed to reach 20% and didn’t qualify for Georgia delegates.
- Donald Trump had the most votes and won the primary. He automatically won the states 3 top party delegates. Additionally he was awarded 14 delegates from the statewide vote, and 26 more delegates for finishing first or second in the congressional districts for a total of 43 delegates from Georgia.
- Marco Rubio was given 9 delegates for his statewide vote and 7 delegates for finishing first or second in the congressional districts for a total of 16.
- Ted Cruz was given 8 delegates for his statewide performance and 9 delegates for finishing second in 9 districts for a total of 17. Cruz finished with more delegates than Rubio, even though he had less votes, because he finished in the top 2 in more congressional districts.
Like I said earlier, each state does it differently. Some states have caucuses and some award their delegates at party conventions where only certain party members get to vote.
So who are the delegates?
In order to be a delegate, you have to be chosen by your party. In Georgia, delegates are elected from county Republican conventions to attend the state Republican convention. At the state convention, delegates are elected who will serve to represent Georgia and cast their votes at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer. These delegates are bound to vote for their assigned candidates based on the vote Georgia had in March.
In some states the names of the people who want to be delegates are put on the actual primary ballot and voted on. These people must collect a large number of signatures of their state’s citizens in order to qualify for the ballot. For example, in Tennessee, when you vote for a candidate you are only giving a preference, that vote is pretty much worthless. The real vote that matters is voting for the at-large and congressional delegates who support certain candidates.
This is a big test of the organization of each candidate. In a state like this, if your candidate is well organized, then they will have plenty of delegates on their part of the ballot to chose from. If a candidate is not as organized and couldn’t find enough people willing to serve as a potential delegate for them, they could lose out on delegates even if they win the preference vote.
Here’s part of a sample ballot from Tennessee:
In Hamilton County after you vote for your candidate preference, you then have 14 at-large delegate votes you can cast.
At the Republican National Convention
We’ve all seen the big speeches given by the Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees at the Republican and Democrat National Conventions. But what you don’t always see are the votes being cast.
At the platform, someone calls out each state in alphabetical order. They start with Alabama. A representative from Alabama’s Republican party will give a very brief reason why their state is the best and then announce how many delegates they are awarding for each candidate. When a candidate reaches the 1,237 delegate mark, the place goes crazy and everyone celebrates.
Usually by the time the convention is happening the party already knows who their nominee is going to be and it’s not a surprise when someone reaches 1,237 delegates. But this year can be different. If the states’ primaries and caucuses are all done and no one has enough delegates, they enter a contested convention, and delegates all the sudden become very important.
The party will call all the states at the convention and tally their votes to see where they stand. If no reaches the magic number, everyone will regroup and then vote again.
Delegates are almost always bound to vote for the candidate that their state has told them to for at least one ballot. Some states require them to stay loyal for 3 ballots before they are released to vote for someone else.
For example, Marco Rubio has 164 delegates assigned to him even though he no longer is running for President. They are almost all still bound to vote for him for at least the first ballot. He could today announce that he is releasing his delegates and endorse someone else, and his delegates would then be able to vote for whoever they wanted.
Eventually someone will reach the threshold 1,237 delegates and become the nominee.