The Delegate Process


Inquisitive, curious, and demanding journalists continue to question the election process. In addition candidates, surrogates, and voters have picked up the torch. People, the process is the process. There is no stealing, breaking of laws, or disenfranchisement. It’s called campaigning and organizing. The founding fathers were brilliant men who understood corruption and manipulation.

1- Why doesn’t the candidate with the plurality become the nominee? This means that the majority of the voters did not vote for the plurality candidate. If the delegates remained committed to the popular vote then we may never have a nominee chosen. Therefore, the delegates need the flexibility to arrive at a majority for one candidate by representing the people.

The US is a republic with a representative government. We vote for city councils to decide on city issues, which require a majority. We vote for state senators, representatives, and governors to decide on state issues, which require a majority. We vote for a president, congress, and senate to decide on federal issues, which require a majority.

Our president is selected by a majority of the Electoral College. If there is no majority after the first ballot then the US Congress decides from the top three vote-getters.

At the GOP convention, a similar process is followed. The nominee must earn a majority of the delegates. Majority rule, not a plurality, is a democratic principle.

2-Why do the delegates select the candidates? If the candidate has a majority of delegates then there is a clear mandate from the electorate for the nominee. The delegates vote as the people voted and the convention becomes a coronation for the nominee.

The delegate selection process is the second layer of the election. Winning 1237 delegates from winning elections is the primary goal but ensuring that campaign friendly delegates are selected is the secondary goal. This is only needed if 1237 is not attained on the first ballot when most of the delegates are pledged to vote according to the state’s results. However, there is a secondary campaign to win the votes of delegates who change from pledged to unpledged. Persuading enough of these free agent delegates to vote for your candidate is the key to winning a contested convention.

Serious candidates must accrue delegates by campaigning for votes and engage in the delegate selection process in case they do not reach 1237 on the first ballot. This is not cheating or stealing. It’s called democracy.

Abraham Lincoln trailed Seward 100-170 heading into the 1860 convention. On the third ballot, Lincoln had 230+ and Seward had 100. The process works. Seward was subsequently Lincoln’s secretary of state and negotiated Seward’s purchase, the acquisition of Alaska from Russia.

3- How do states conduct elections?  Some have primaries, caucuses, conventions, winner-take-all, proportional by state or district, etc. Every state has unique rules and processes. The candidates are expected to be organized and informed enough to compete. If all states are treated like primaries then the candidate will lose delegates. If all states are treated like caucuses then the candidate will lose delegates. You can’t win the decathlon if you bring a shot put for each event.

Our election process, as well as our legislative process, is meant to be cumbersome. This avoids a populist, disorganized candidate winning the White House. The constitution provides the framework for how our country operates. Don’t listen to candidates, surrogates, journalists, pundits, talking heads, or neighbors criticizing our constitution. Adherence to it is the glue that has kept American diversity thriving for 250 years.



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