All Eyes are on Indiana

The Presidential Primary is a relatively new approach in the American political process. Some states held primaries as early as 1901. It was after the 1968 Democrat National convention when Hubert Humphrey was nominated without running in a single primary, that the primary election was more widely adopted.

In 1976, Ronald Reagan ran a strong challenge to President Gerald Ford which was not settled until the convention. Since that time, candidates who were nominated by each party have won primaries and secured enough votes for the nomination before the national convention. This year we are experiencing an unintended consequence of the Primary process.

There are expectations when winning a primary and then there is the reality of what a win really means. The average person who votes in a primary or volunteers for a candidate is likely under the impression that the results of the primary mean that a candidate gets a certain number of delegates at the national convention.

The voters in the primaries do not select the nominee. The delegates select the nominee. In many cases, such as Georgia, the delegates are selected by a completely different process. Most delegates are required to cast the first vote based on a formula that allocates delegates according to the results of the primary election.

Many are under the assumption that when a candidate is assigned a certain number of delegates based on the primary election results, that those delegates are loyal to the one who won the election. This is a major disconnect between perception and the party rules.

Donald Trump and his supporters expressed outrage when Ted Cruz organized his supporters to show up at the precinct meetings, county conventions, district conventions, and state conventions. They showed up with the express purpose of electing delegates to the national convention who would support Ted Cruz after the first ballot. While I understand some of the feelings, the strategy by the Cruz campaign is completely ethical and valid.

The outrage of Trump and his supporters is also an ethical and valid strategy. The average person does not understand the nuances of the delegate election process. Trump has jumped on that and effectively mastered the messaging to create the perception in voter’s minds that delegates he won are being stolen. This perception helps him in subsequent elections.

Both Cruz and Trump are in this to win. Cruz had a strategy to win Iowa, South Carolina, and then sweep the South on Super Tuesday. Had that happened, Cruz would be the inevitable nominee. Trump spoiled the Cruz strategy by winning key states in the South. Cruz threw a wrench into Trump’s plan by flooding the district and state conventions to get his supporters elected as delegates.

Cruz knows that his only chance of winning is to keep Trump from having enough delegates to win on the first vote. On a second vote when delegates have fulfilled their obligation to cast the first vote for the assigned candidate, they are free to vote as they choose. Cruz is counting on having enough in the delegations of each state to swing the votes his way.

This comes down to why Indiana is so important to Ted Cruz. If he wins Indiana, he still has a shot at keeping Trump from getting a majority on the first ballot. If Trump wins Indiana, then he is on a glide path to the nomination on the first ballot.

Donald Trump would be a great nominee and a great President. Ted Cruz would be a great nominee and a great President. This is a horse race. Anyone who makes any assumptions about it being over at this point does so at his own peril. Predictions may get easier after Tuesday but it may go down to the wire.

My prediction is that Trump will have the delegates to win by the time he reaches the national convention. That is not an endorsement, just an observation. If I am wrong, I’ll be glad to hear “I told you so.”

Contrary to the hopes of some in the NeverTrump crowd, I believe that the average voter out there who helped Ted Cruz will support Donald Trump if he gets the nomination. I also believe that the average voter out there who helped Donald Trump, would support Ted Cruz if Cruz gets the nomination. I will support either one. As one delegate to Georgia’s 2nd District Convention said, “I’m in the NeverHillary crowd.”

Signature-Donald E. Cole

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