Yes, the delegates can decide

The Louisiana delegate picture isn’t evidence of anything untoward. Trump and Cruz both won 18 delegates on election night. Marco Rubio, since dropped out, won five, and another five are uncommitted. The Cruz campaign has done the nitty-gritty work to see that those delegates are likely Cruz supporters.

The only scandal here is that the Cruz campaign, built on grass-roots organizing muscle, knows the process and is working hard for every advantage. Trump’s plaint is a little like showing up at a cricket match and crying foul because the opposing team knows the rules and all you know is that you swing a bat.

The Louisiana flap is a window into the intricate, state-by-state process of picking delegates to a convention in Cleveland where the allegiance of every last delegate might matter. If there is an open convention, Trump will argue that the voters should rule, not delegates no one has heard of, selected at obscure precinct, county, district, and state meetings. He will, in short, declare the entire exercise of a contested convention illegitimate.

Is it? We are used to the voters’ directly deciding, and should Trump perform strongly enough to win a majority of delegates, 1,237, they, in effect, will. But if he falls short, the delegates enter the picture.