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Conventional Wisdom: Cruz Romps In Wyoming Delegate Fight

Delegates, amirite?

If I had a dollar for every delegate who has been or will be elected to the Republican National Convention in July — 2,472 — I would use that money to buy a plane ticket to a different life on the islands off of Colombia, where I would do yoga all day and drink directly from coconuts.

Instead, I am going to write a weekly update (every Monday) for the foreseeable future on the wild and wacky world of delegate harvesting: “Conventional Wisdom.” Get it? (Sign up here.)

OK, here’s where things stand:

CANDIDATE DELEGATES
0 Donald Trump 758
0 Ted Cruz 543
0 John Kasich 144
1 Hillary Clinton 1,305
1 Bernie Sanders 1,099
Delegate counts as of April 18

Democratic count does not include superdelegates.

And here’s what has happened in the states over the past few days:

Wyoming: Ancestral home of the Cheney family and a place I once went to in order to take photographs of buffalo and the belching, acrid earth. It also has 29 delegates to the RNC and elects them in a rather anomalous fashion, without a state primary — 12 of its delegates were chosen last month during county conventions, with Ted Cruz winning nine delegates, Donald Trump one, Marco Rubio one (who is likely to switch to Cruz on a second ballot), and one, State Sen. Ogden Driskill, who remained uncommitted. Three additional party leader delegates are entitled to attend the RNC as unbound delegates.

That left 14 delegates to elect this weekend at the state’s Republican Party convention. Cruz won them all and was there in the flesh to witness the rout. “Grassroots are rising up,” Cruz said in an emailed statement. “This is how elections are won in America.”

Trump has a problem with that. Late last week he penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed flagellating Colorado in particular for holding a convention-only nominating process for delegates, rather than a primary. “No one forced anyone to cancel the vote in Colorado. Political insiders made a choice to cancel it. And it was the wrong choice,” Trump wrote. (The state party decided to do so back in August.) Again, Wyoming elected its delegates similarly.


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Trump’s campaign is floundering in the delegate-courting process. Party regulars who attend the typically dullsville state convention meetings to elect delegates tend to be activist types, aka, Cruz’s sweet spot. Trump surrogate Sarah Palin was scheduled to be in Wyoming for the convention, but canceled, indicating that the campaign knew they would do poorly in the state.

Georgia: Georgia’s delegate selection process is more “normal” than Wyoming or Colorado’s, i.e., it holds a primary and then holds delegate conventions — usually a formality but not this year! Fourteen congressional district elections were held this weekend, electing 42 of the state’s 76 delegates, and it was another good showing for Cruz, with his organizers estimating that he got about 32 delegates. Georgia delegates are bound on the first ballot, so Trump will have 42, Rubio 16, and Cruz 18 in that round, but campaigns are really fighting for the second ballot (assuming Trump hasn’t won 1,237 votes on the first ballot) — that’s when most of the delegates elected at these congressional district-level conventions will be unbound free agents, and many have pledged that they will vote for Cruz. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that “at best” Trump got 12 to 14 delegates. Note the imprecision — delegate math is calculated in shades of gray.

South Carolina: The state’s 1st Congressional District held its convention this weekend in Charleston, with Cruz winning its three delegates; last weekend, Trump lost five of six delegates up for grabs in other congressional district conventions. As in Georgia, South Carolina’s delegates will be bound on the first ballot — all are bound to Trump — but they will be free to vote their conscience, or whatever we’re calling it these days, on a second ballot.

Virginia: The state’s 10th Congressional District held its convention this weekend and a full slate of Cruz delegates was elected. Yours truly was there, so stay tuned for more from that contest. Same deal as in Georgia and South Carolina: Virginia’s delegates are bound on the first ballot, 17 to Trump, 16 to Rubio, 8 to Cruz, 5 to John Kasich, 3 to Ben Carson, but then they are free agents on the second ballot.

That’s all I got, people. Now I’ve got to finish my taxes.

Clare Malone is a senior political writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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