The latest thing that Trump supporters have fixated on is the idea that if Trump has the most delegates going into the convention and someone else walks out as the GOP nominee, then all of Trump’s voters will have been “disenfranchised.” Both Trump and Carson have sounded on this theme, and then of course there’s this… whatever it is:
After GOP disenfranchises its own voters at convention, watching them claim they’re not doing same to black voters in general will be fun.
— John Nolte (@NolteNC) March 28, 2016
I think we all understand that this is stupid on stilts. Just because you’ve cast a vote for your candidate and he doesn’t end up winning (according to the rules of the election he is participating in) does not mean that you’ve been “disenfranchised.” It just means you’ve voted for a loser. It happens to almost half of the voting population every election.
Listen, this is very simple; the RNC’s rules very clearly state – as they have from the beginning – that you have to have a majority of delegates in order to win the nomination. If no candidate gets that majority on the first ballot, then there’s a process for selecting a nominee that leaves the ballot results behind. There’s no rule that says that the top delegate-getter in the first ballot has to be the choice; if there were such a rule, then whoever got a plurality of the delegates would just automatically win per the rules.
It’s exactly equivalent to the electoral college in that way. Imagine if Trump gets the nomination, runs against Hillary, and Rick Perry or someone runs third party. Imagine that Hillary gets 230 electoral votes, Trump gets 170, and Perry gets 140. The election would then go to the House of Representatives. If they chose Trump, then Hillary’s voters haven’t been “disenfranchised.” There just weren’t enough of them for her to win the election per the clearly stated rules.
But a simple comparison shows how stupid and ridiculous this complaint is, especially coming from Trump supporters. This chart shows that, at every step of the way (including the portion of the race after the field narrowed to 4 and then 3 GOP candidates), Bernie Sanders has gotten a higher share of the Democrat vote than Trump has gotten of the Republican vote. Credit to our own Dan McLaughlin for these numbers:
Now, when Bernie Sanders is routed by Hillary Clinton at the Dem convention, no one is going to say that his voters were “disenfranchised.” The fact that this is even a discussion among Trump supporters shows how the rules have, in fact, benefitted Trump to a pretty insane degree. The GOP’s delegate allocation rules were specifically designed to give a narrow frontrunner an easier path (anticipating a conservative insurgency).
The only reason that Trump is even close to being on pace to get 1,237 delegates is because of the RNC’s rules. If not for them, he would be close to being mathematically eliminated right now just like Cruz. It’s those same rules he’s benefitted from that have made it clear all along that you have to get a majority to be entitled to win without a contested convention – and they made it remarkably easy for a front runner to do so.
If Trump fails to cross the 1,237 threshold, it will be because he has so alienated GOP voters overall that over 60% of them remained stubbornly opposed to him throughout the course of the primary season. And those voters deserve to have their vote count just as much as the 37% of Republicans (and Democrats and Independents) who have voted for Trump. The fact that Trump could not close the deal in spite of a jury-rigged system in his favor means that, at the very least, serious consideration needs to be given to the best non-Trump option.
And doing so isn’t “disenfranchisement.” If enough Trump voters existed – or even potentially existed – to push Trump over the top, then we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.