Trumpists Rush Primaries

Monday, September 25, 2023

Last week, I wrote:

[Nikki] Haley does best against Biden in polling of any Republican in the field now, and there is no doubt that if Trump ends up in jail, or is declared to be disqualified from office, she would have a decent chance of winning the GOP primary. She is ready, if things break her way, and more people paying attention might constitute breaking her way in this election. [bold added]
This scenario, which I already viewed as unlikely to occur, but the best shot of the Republicans nominating a decent alternative to Joe Biden, appears to be even less likely than I thought.

This is because Trump's disciples within the GOP have been pushing for earlier, winner-takes-all primaries:
Used car salesmen like to rush things, too. (Image by Parker Gibbs, via Unsplash, license.)
The former president's aides have sculpted rules in dozens of states, starting even before his 2020 reelection bid. Their work is ongoing: In addition to California, state Republican parties in Nevada and Michigan have recently overhauled their rules in ways clearly designed to favor Trump.


The Trump campaign succeeded in changing the rules "in part because they knew what they were doing and in part because everyone else is asleep at the switch," Ginsberg added.


The Trump campaign's rule changes have focused on ensuring he benefits from how all-important delegates are awarded after each state caucus or primary.


[T]he work started in earnest years ago -- changes were made in 30 states and territories in 2019, according to Josh Putnam, a political scientist who focuses on the presidential nomination process and runs FrontloadingHQ. Among the rules changes were switching from proportional delegate allocation, where multiple candidates can win delegates in a state, to winner-take-all. In some states, delegates are also being awarded based on the outcome of party-run caucuses among GOP activists, many of whom remain loyal to Trump, rather than official state primary elections.
Perhaps because the rules are obscure and vary from state to state, the article is unclear about how much this tilts the scales in favor of Trump, but it does note that the strategy could backfire if Trump falters enough early in the race.

It would appear, then, that in addition to a smaller field of competitors to Trump, narrowing it down quickly will be necessary.

It is a shame that the Republicans have allowed a power-hungry liability like Trump to cause it to have to choose a candidate quickly, rather than deliberately.

-- CAV

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