Real estate mogul Donald Trump is reportedly planning on courting delegates personally in California and Virginia to respond to Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) delegate operation. Unfortunately for Trump, this new strategy of isn't likely to work. Here are five reasons why.
1. In California, Trump will need to "identify, recruit and vet 318" supporters as delegates. Three delegates and three alternates are needed from each of California's congressional districts, and lists of delegate slates are due by the beginning of May. The Trump campaign is reportedly behind on this front, and it's possible that his rivals could infiltrate his delegate slate.
2. The delegates in California are chosen by the winner of each congressional district and statewide. The California GOP rules for selecting delegates states: "Presidential Nominating Convention delegates shall be chosen by the Presidential candidate who obtained the plurality of Republican votes within each Congressional district, and, for Presidential Nominating Convention delegates and alternate Presidential Nominating Convention delegates 'at large,' by the Presidential candidate who obtained the plurality of Republican votes statewide."
In other words, if Trump wins California statewide and/or certain congressional districts, then he gets to select the delegates of his choice. This is going to actively require him to not just win the state, but focus on winning particular congressional districts. Otherwise, his efforts to woo delegates will be for naught.
3. Trump has already been getting schlonged in Virginia and attending personally and courting delegates likely won't change that. RedState blogger streiff points out that in the Ninth Congressional District of Virginia, two of three delegates elected were Cruz supporters, even though Trump won the district with 47 percent of the vote on Super Tuesday.
"Delegates are chosen from people who have actually been involved in state GOP politics for a while," writes streiff. "The mob of recent Democrats and independents and previously apathetic GOP voters are not going to be chosen as delegates. And Trump is wildly unpopular, nationwide, with people who have been involved in GOP, and particularly conservative GOP, politics."
Streiff also notes that about a third of GOP voters won't come out to vote for Trump in a general election, which would be especially significant now that Virginia's just added 206,000 ex-felons to the state's voter rolls. In other words, the GOP activists that elect the 13 at-large delegates at the Virginia state convention likely won't vote for Trump regardless of how much he attempts to court them.
"Trump is wildly unpopular, nationwide, with people who have been involved in GOP, and particularly conservative GOP, politics."
Streiff, from RedState
4. Trump's ground game is still terrible, and his attempts to personally court delegates won't be enough. Trump doesn't have any well-organized state field operations, especially when compared to Cruz's data driven ground game. Trump's campaign has already made a series of blunders already in the delegate game, such as accidentally sending out an email for delegates to Washington, D.C. instead of Washington state two days after the filing deadline and putting his 50 delegates in South Carolina at risk by refusing to support the GOP nominee if it's not Trump. It is going to be an uphill climb for Trump to personally court these delegates when Cruz's superior game has already made in-roads on them.
5. He's alienating his new convention manager Paul Manafort, his best chance at winning delegates. A Politico report suggests that Trump has rejected Manafort's efforts to make him more "presidential" and is resentful of Manafort's backgrounds and some of his decision-making since he joined the campaign, so Trump has given more power back to campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Manafort's rival for power in the campaign. Manafort hasn't been particularly helpful to Trump's delegate operation, since Trump got schlonged over the weekend in the delegate fight in Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, South Carolina and Utah, but Manafort is still Trump's best chance to win delegates, so by rebuffing him and siding with Lewandowski isn't going to help him woo over delegates.