Yesterday the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference, a conservative coalition that is non-partisan, held a straw poll at its conference in Harrisburg, PA.
There are a couple of interesting points here:
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won the Presidential Poll with 64.6% of the vote at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference, whereas Donald Trump came in second with 13.6% and John Kasich finished third with 13.3%. The audience was also polled if they would vote for Trump if he was the Republican nominee, 68% of the attendees would vote for Trump over the Democrat candidate.
First, despite Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania polls, it is clear that three-quarters of the attendees at the meeting preferred someone other than Trump. And they preferred another candidate to the extent that a third of the attendees said they were #NeverTrump. This makes it certain that if Trump wins the GOP nomination, Pennsylvania would not be in play in a general election.
I’m not a big believer in straw polls for a lot of reasons but there are reasons to look at this one carefully. This is the current state of polling
Grim, yes. But keep in mind that Pennsylvania is a closed primary and closed primaries are not friendly to Donald Trump’s campaign style and message. The deadline to register to vote is 30 days prior to the primary. If you are currently a Democrat or independent or minor party member you have to change your party affiliation in order to vote in the GOP primary. No Trump supporter has ever done anything 30 days in advance in their entire life. The final thing is that Pennsylvania’s delegate selection is NOT tied to the popular vote. You can win Pennsylvania and get diddly-squat as a percentage of delegates.
Pennsylvania voters will select three delegates from each of the 18 congressional districts. Those 54 delegates will be able to vote for whomever they want at the Republican National Convention.
The remaining 17 delegates are party insiders who automatically go to the convention. Three are national party members and 14 are other special party members. They would be pledged, on the first ballot, to support whichever candidate captured the most support by Pennsylvania voters.
If there is no nominee after the first round of voting, then they, too, can vote for whomever they want.
The repudiation that Trump saw at the straw poll more likely than not runs deep within voters who regularly vote within the GOP. As the delegates from congressional districts are not bound, their allegiance to Trump will be doubtful.