As Donald Trump continues his march toward the Republican presidential nomination, he is faced with the possibility that he may have to ultimately weather a brokered convention in Cleveland this July in order to finally secure it.
Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island all hold primaries on Tuesday, and all will go a long way in determining whether or not Trump can get to the magic number of 1,237 (delegates needed to win the nomination outright). The key to the Trump nomination, however, may hinge upon how he does in the state of Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania's GOP primary rules are such that out of the 71 delegates up for grabs, only 17 are won with the statewide election, while 54 will eventually come in the form of delegates the people elect during the primary - a so-called "loophole primary." The key here, as Politico writes, is that the 54 delegates that are chosen (three for each of the state's 18 congressional districts) are unbound to the state-wide winner and do not necessarily have to vote for that candidate during the convention. To add some clarity to that, during the first round of voting at the GOP convention most delegates that are awarded during primaries are bound to each candidate, and have to vote for that candidate. Some, as is the case with Pennsylvania's 54 delegates mentioned above, can vote for any candidate they choose during the first round of voting.
The Pennsylvania ballot will have two parts, one for the presidential candidate, and one for the delegate representative (the voter in the GOP convention who will be unbound). The challenge for Donald Trump is to ensure that he's done enough to not only convince the the people to vote for him on the top part of the ballet, but also to motivate the people to seek out and vote for the correct delegate, who in turn will support Trump at the convention.
It's a wrench in the traditional path to the nomination to be sure, but then again why would anything be straightforward and easy enough to execute in politics.
How will Trump fare in his quest to ultimately secure the 71 crucial delegates in Pennsylvania? For that we look to an article the financial times puts forth, giving some insight as to how Pennsylvania is leaning right now, and as usual: it's the economy stupid.
Trump's tough rhetoric around trade deals, and how he'll make sure America starts to "win" again resonates with many people across the state, especially rural areas where industry has all but vanished, taking jobs and standard of living with it.
Christopher Borick, a pollster at Muhlenberg College, says: “Trump’s message of returning to some past greatness is well-designed for areas that are long past their economic glory days and for voters who feel left behind.”
As the Financial Times writes...
After months of agonised wavering over production cuts, Kevin Bachman finally received word in February that he was being laid off permanently — and destined for the jobcentre where he was filling out forms on Friday last week.
“When I was a kid there were at least five textile mills and three shoe companies and assorted other industries in just one town. Now there’s nothing,” says Mr Bachman in Pottsville, a county seat where a shrinking population of 14,000 lives hemmed in by pine-covered mountains.
Mr Bachman is applying for retraining as an IT expert, but says he does not believe in building a nation of tech gurus: “We need to make America industrial again.”
Trump is wasting no time in addressing the situation that's at the front of everyone's agenda, stirring up the crowd at a rally last week.
Last week, Mr Trump was in south central Pennsylvania for a raucous rally in Harrisburg, the state capital. He decried the empty factories he had seen on the drive in from the airport and told the crowd: “Mexico has been taking your companies like it’s candy from a baby.”
Then there is the lobbying effort: as of Friday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review had reached 135 of the 162 delegate candidates on the ballot to survey them about their intentions. Many of the candidates said they would support the presidential candidate who wins the vote at the top of the ballot in their respective districts.
But, unlike in a state like Illinois, where delegates are required to vote on the first ballot for the candidate for whom they’ve declared – the Pennsylvania delegates aren’t bound at all. They can change their minds between the primary and convention, and they’ll be lobbied furiously by both sides if Trump is just shy of the majority of the delegates on the first ballot.
That lobbying effort is starting in the pre-election phase: Our Principles PAC, an anti-Trump super PAC, says it’s running robocalls in some Pennsylvania districts urging voters to support certain delegate candidates in order to elect delegates who won’t back Trump on the first ballot.
There is also a lot of advertising money being spent trying to win over Pennsylvania. As Politico adds reports, of the $2.7 million being spent on television and radio advertising across the five states voting on Tuesday, just under $2 million is being spent in Pennsylvania. Even more telling of how important Pennsylvania is to Trump and his campaign, the man who prides himself on not spending much in advertising is spending nearly $1.3 million in the state alone.
The ultimate result of these efforts won't be known until the unbound delegates vote at the convention in July, but we can only imagine Trump's response if those 54 swing to another candidate and help cause him to lose the election.
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Bonus: Here is how the GOP explains the voting process works during the convention, and how even once bound delegates become unbound (i.e. free to vote for anyone) as the rounds go on until a final candidate is chosen.