Conventional Wisdom

After Ted Cruz won every delegate up for grabs at the Colorado Republican convention, Donald Trump began complaining that the process at such conventions is unfair. His claim is that party insiders should not be making these choices, but rather that the power should be vested with the voters. As a consequence, Cruz is “stealing delegates from Trump, and in so doing defying the will of the voters.
Trump’s accusations are specious and disingenuous. The process that has been playing out is perfectly legitimate. Trump’s real problem is that he is being outhustled by the Cruz campaign.
The Republican nomination process operates along two tracks. The first—which garners most of the attention—is the binding of convention delegates to a presidential candidate, through primaries and caucuses. When one sees news reports that Trump has 743 delegates, Cruz has 545 delegates, and Kasich has 143 delegates, these are the number of delegates obliged by the party rules to vote for that candidate on the presidential ballot in Cleveland.

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