Though no states are holding primaries or caucuses this week, there are delegates up for grabs. If no candidate wins the first ballot of this summer’s Republican National Convention, previously pledged delegates will be free to support any candidates they please. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich want to make sure those delegates join their camps in the event of a contested convention.
“It doesn't surprise me that candidates are trying to work the convention nomination system any way they can,” Wilson says. “It seems likely that for the first time in decades no one will go in with a majority (of delegates), so rules and procedures that haven't mattered in quite some time suddenly become important.”
It sets up for the kind of fight some candidates are better prepared for than others.
“Trump will be systematically disadvantaged in this process,” Wilson says. “(This is) partly because he's not much of a ‘detail guy’ and partly because the party may actually change some rules before the convention to disadvantage him, but it’s mostly because the kinds of long-time loyalists who tend to get selected as delegates are not the sorts of people who have tended to favor Trump in the primaries.”
In the case of Texas’ delegates, the system in place strongly favors Ted Cruz, who will claim 104 of the state’s 155 delegates on the first ballot, but potentially many more after that.
“The Texas delegates will be selected at the state GOP convention in May,” Wilson says. “This almost certainly favors Cruz, because he has many more supporters in the state party than Trump does. It is likely that a lot of Texas’ Trump delegates will actually be Cruz supporters who will be bound to support Trump on the first ballot, but will likely bolt to Cruz at the first opportunity thereafter.”
Wilson is an SMU associate professor of political science. He can discuss:
- religion and politics
- political psychology
- voting behavior of religious voters
- public opinion and politics