Plurality vs Majority

There has been considerable news coverage of how awful it would be if the current front runner in the GOP Presidential primary campaign is not awarded the nomination after garnering so many millions of votes. The predictions of calamitous results if “millions of voters are disenfranchised” by nominating anyone but the front runner who has obviously “received the majority of the votes cast.”

There have been 21,026,482 votes cast in Republican primaries so far. Of that number, Donald Trump has received 7,817,178 or 37.15%. He is considered the front runner because he leads over Ted Cruz who has 5,736,732 or 27.26%. Although no longer in the race, Marco Rubio received 3,436,812 votes or 16.33%, and actually leads John Kasich who has 2,808,567 or 13.34%, most of which he won in his home state of Ohio. Other candidates who have dropped out coupled with the numerous unknown candidates plus uncommitted votes (yes some states allow a primary voter to cast a ballot for uncommitted) account for 1,227,193 votes or 5.83% of the total.

In actual numbers, if the primary is viewed as two choices, Trump vs. Not Trump, the Not Trump has a majority both in popular votes and delegate count. The breakdown is:

Donald Trump          = 7,817,178 votes (37%) for 726 committed delegates

Not Trump                 = 13,209,304 votes (63%) for 768 delegates.

So for as much as we hear that Mr. Trump has all but won the nomination, the simple truth is almost twice as many people have voted against him as have voted for him. If it is unthinkable to disenfranchise 37% of voters, then how unthinkable would it be to disenfranchise 63% of voters?

In the delegate count, of the 1,494 total delegates available, there are 980 still to be chosen. While Mr. Trump needs fewer of these than either Ted Cruz or John Kasich, he still needs to capture 1,237 to secure the nomination. So far, Donald Trump has only topped 50% of the votes in one state. It is difficult to estimate how many delegates the remaining candidates can each win, but look at it from the Trump/Not Trump perspective.

Judging by past results, Trump could win 49% of the remaining delegates (480) and Not Trump could get 51% (500). If the Not Trump continues to be split, neither side would garner the needed 1,237 delegates, and the convention would then be contested.

If Donald Trump is not able to capture 1,237 delegates by June when the primaries are over, it means that Not Trump will control that majority. The two remaining major candidates (Cruz and Kasich) if added to delegates still help by Marco Rubio already are more than those of Mr. Trump. By the time the convention opens, the Not Trump delegates may have come together to back one candidate and a convention first ballot will nominate that Not Trump candidate. That candidate will have the required delegates, and will represent the votes of a majority of primary voters. The bottom line is, Donald Trump has to win more delegates in the coming months than does his opponent, Not Trump.

Mr. Trump has a plurality of votes cast so far which only means he has more votes than any one of the other candidates. He does not now, nor has he ever had a majority of votes cast, or of delegates committed. That is not inside  political shenanigans, it is simple math.

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