Dem 51
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GOP 49
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California Republican Party Changes the Rules to Help Trump

On Saturday, the California Republican Party changed the rules for how delegates to the Republican National Convention will be allocated in 2024. Under the new rules, if any candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, that candidate will get all 169 delegates and the other candidates will get zero. If no candidate gets more than 50%, the delegates will be divided up proportionally.

California will have the largest delegation to the convention. The total number of delegates will be roughly 2,467, so it will take 1,234 delegates to get the nomination. We hope these numbers stick because having the majority be at 1,234 makes it easier for us to remember (it's also the combination on our luggage.) So if Trump wins California, he is 14% of the way there in just one state.

One effect of the rules change is that probably none of the other Republican candidates will bother even campaigning in California since they know they will probably get no delegates, whereas in states with proportional representation, they might get some. This increases the chance that Trump passes the 50% mark and indeed gets all the delegates. Despite the law about multiparty jungle-style primaries for most offices, presidential primaries are different in California. Each political party can choose to have either a closed primary (i.e., only registered members can vote in it) or a semi-open primary (i.e., independents may also vote in it). The California Republican Party is virtually certain to go for a closed primary to avoid potential ratf**king by Democrats disguised as independents.

California will vote on Super Tuesday, March 5, 2024, along with over a dozen other states. With a little bit of good luck, Trump could wake up on March 6 as the de facto Republican nominee. With a little bit of bad luck, the Republican National Committee could be stuck with a convicted felon by the time the convention formally nominates him in Milwaukee July 15-18, 2024. By that point, barring a radical change of rules at the last minute turning all the pledged delegates into free agents, there would be no way to deny him the nomination. If Trump is convicted in the spring, the appeals courts would be under a lot of pressure to take up his appeals and make decisions before the election. Suppose the appeals courts sustained the verdicts. Then we would move into uncharted territory.

If Super Tuesday doesn't finish the nomination process, the Florida primary two weeks later, on March 19, 2024, might well do it. If Trump crushes Ron DeSantis in the governor's home state (which is also Trump's home state, of course), DeSantis is history and the primaries are probably effectively over. Might that happen? Well, a March poll of Florida Republicans by the University of North Florida found 59% of Republicans favored DeSantis and 28% favored Trump. That's DeSantis +31. A recent poll from Florida Atlantic University found that in a head-to-head matchup, Trump would get 54% and DeSantis would get 37%. That's Trump +17. In other words, DeSantis has apparently dropped close to 50 points since March in his own state. And by March 19, it could well be a two-man race, with all the others wiped out on Super Tuesday or, in many cases, earlier. If DeSantis can't even beat Trump in a state that he won by 19 points last year and where he is well known, how is he going to win in states where he is far less well known? Yes, it is at least possible DeSantis is strongest in the states where no one knows anything about him and he has carefully avoided visiting. Herschel Walker tried the hide-and-don't-campaign strategy in the Georgia Senate race in 2022 and it didn't work for him. It probably won't work for DeSantis now. Besides, DeSantis thinks he is a great candidate. Walker probably knew better. (V)

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