In the endless discussion over whether or not Donald Trump can secure the GOP nomination prior to the convention we have been repeatedly reminded of the importance of the fact that The Rules are the Rules. Chief among these rules is the dictum that a plurality doesn’t count. You don’t win unless you have a majority. And in the case of counting Republican delegates, the magic number is 1,237.
Well… not so fast. According to one RNC official from North Dakota, now that Trump appears to have at least a plausible path to a majority if he prevails in Indiana on Tuesday, 1,237 might not be such an important number after all. (Yahoo Finance)
Donald Trump may be the only Republican presidential candidate who can realistically hit the magic 1,237 number for the majority of delegates, but according to a senior Republican National Committee official that does not mean he will become the GOP presidential nominee.
Curly Haugland, a longstanding RNC official and an unbound delegate from North Dakota who will be on the convention rules committee in July, told CNBC that attaining 1,237 during the primaries does not secure the nomination.
“Even if Trump reaches the magic number of 1,237 the media and RNC are touting, that does not mean Trump is automatically the nominee,” Haugland said. “The votes earned during the primary process are only estimates and are not legal convention votes. The only official votes to nominate a candidate are those that are cast from the convention floor.”
You may remember Haugland as the unbound North Dakota delegate who informed everyone that, “we choose the nominee, not the voters.” That pronouncement didn’t sit well with a lot of folks even when it was viewed as dealing specifically with the unbound delegates, but now he appears to be taking it to the next level. Haugland is basing his #NeverTrump hopes on a new potential wrinkle in the procedures which will play out in Cleveland.
Calling the majority number “an estimate” of what is needed (is this Common Core math?), Haugland is referring to the process for affirming – or more importantly in this case, challenging – the delegates who arrive to be seated at the convention. This should normally be an essentially automatic process since the states are left to their own devices as to how their delegates are selected, but Haugland clearly sees some room to suddenly question those methods, specifically citing the states where Trump has generally done the best.
“Remember every state has a different delegate allocation process,” he said. “Delegates are picked up in state contests that can be winner take all, open primaries, and remember there are seven states that allow the candidates to pick their own delegates. Until those delegate challenges are settled, there is no 1,237.”
Haugland said he expects the delegates won in winner-take-all states to be most likely challenged.
I’m not sure how many of the #NeverTrump supporters out there will be willing to jump onboard with this idea. We’ve been told so loudly and for so long that the only thing that matters is a majority that it’s become something of a religious intonation. Stopping Trump short of 1,237 was the only goal once it became clear that everyone else would be mathematically eliminated. Effusive praise was showered on the Cruz campaign in particular for their skillful negotiations in picking off unbound delegates in state after state to the point where it seemed to be one of the great qualifiers for the presidency. Complaints about the rules in individual states (which I’ve brought up here myself) were met with scorn and derisive demands to respect the rules established by the locals. To turn around now and endorse what would amount to kicking those locally established rules to the curb and simply stripping delegates away from the state delegations may be a bit too much hypocrisy for many to swallow.
And none of this deals with the external perceptions and public reactions which would, without question, follow. If you were worried about riots in the streets if Trump failed to secure the nomination with a plurality, we should be dreading what will happen if the nomination is taken away from him after arriving with a majority.