Political Strategy – GOP Primary Season

It appears to be the case that the candidate everyone loves to hate, Donald Trump, will be accruing enough delegates ahead of the Republican Convention to successfully threaten that party’s nomination for president. Just a few months ago, most serious political analysts wrote off the Trump campaign as absurdly rediculous to a degree that he was expected to fail miserably the moment people started casting votes in the states’ primaries. Obviously the hypothesis has been disproven.

I don’t personally support Mr. Trump’s campaign, and I don’t see myself voting for him unless the virtues of libertarianism spontaneously overcome him like Paul being reborn through his vision of Christ. But the reason for his campaign’s success so far is a matter of pretty intense discussion, as is wont to happen when the learned are publically proven wrong, so I am interested in weighing in with my opinion on the matter.

First point: the field of candidates for the Republican nomination is extraordinarily large. And even though it is rapidly shrinking, the consequence in votes from Iowa to Nevada has thus far been a significantly divided return. That’s not unusual in places that commonly have multi-party elections, but so much of the expectation in America has to do with the stranglehold the major parties have on government that conceptualising the outcome of a 9-candidate race is nowhere near as intuitive as guessing between just two guys (or gals, these days). Trump hasn’t actually won a majority of Republican votes in any of the primaries so far, just the most of them, except in Iowa. For those of us with remedial math issues, that means that he has not been the first choice candidate for most of the Republicans who have voted so far. It remains to be seen how many would choose him as their second… or any… choice. But right now, that matters very little because most state primaries are “winner takes all” and not “proportional” when it comes to allocating delegates for the nominating convention.

Second point: the strategy Trump’s campaign has emoloyed of pointing The Donald like a wrecking ball at everything from national immigration policies to international trade negotiations has served a directed purpose that is becoming more discernable as the primary season continues. Donald Trump, however much I dislike what he is advocating, is no fool when it comes to numbers. I strongly suspect that his campaign’s aim is to galvanize Republican voters from small towns and cities by showing them that he both understands their anger at current national policies, and respects the accomplishments they have achieved within their communities despite those larger issues. The Trump campain seems willing to have other candidates spend their efforts selling the GOP to the big cities and the rural populace. And I’m thinking that they’re willing to bet that the recent upsurge in Republican victories at the state level is indicative of a trend from less urban cities in favor of more Republican candidates. If the battle against the Democratic party is to be won, the groundwork needs to be layed early in these battleground towns and cities across the country.

Third point: electoral math is pretty arcane when it comes to presidential elections. Without an exhaustive examination of both delegate assignments for the convention and the relationship between the campaign’s strength in a state and it’s vote count in the Electoral College, only possible after the primaries have concluded, the real likelihood of a Trump presidency will remain up for debate.


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