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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Trump Rigs GOP Rules

Our latest book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  The the 2024 race has begun.

Seema Mehta at LAT:
Strategic, surgical efforts by former President Trump’s campaign to overhaul obscure Republican Party rules in states around the nation, including California, have created an opportunity for the GOP front-runner to quickly sew up his party’s presidential nomination.

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.

This election, “despite a large number of candidates, only the Trump campaign went out and did the really hard grunt work of talking to state parties to try and get them to meld their rules to Donald Trump’s favor,” said Ben Ginsberg, a veteran GOP attorney who represented the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush — notably during the 2000 Florida recount — and Mitt Romney.


But the 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.

They have had a number of successes: Nevada will award all of its delegates based on the results of a Feb. 8 in-person caucus, two days after a meaningless all-mail state primary — an uncommon scenario. The primary may be canceled if no candidate files to appear on the ballot, and there is talk of the state party not allowing any candidate who appears on the ballot to compete in the caucus. Michigan will allocate most of its delegates through caucuses on March 2 rather than the state’s primary on Feb. 27. Colorado and Louisiana are considering revamping their rules so delegates are bound to a candidate during a second round of voting if no candidate receives a majority during the first round.

Operatives in California, Nevada and elsewhere say they were forced to change their rules to align with national Republican Party requirements, which include mandating some proportional delegate allocation opportunities in states where contests take place before March 15. Though they claim these modifications do not benefit any candidate, most political experts are skeptical, partly because the leaders of many of these groups are Trump loyalists.

In California, the state GOP voted in late July to award all of their 169 delegates to a candidate who receives more than 50% of the vote in the March primary, and to allocate them proportionally based on the statewide vote if no candidate clears that benchmark. The state previously awarded them by congressional district, theoretically allowing candidates to target certain regions without having to advertise across a state that contains some of the most expensive media markets in the nation.

The change is largely viewed as making the state less competitive for candidates who can’t afford to blanket the airwaves before California and 14 other states vote on March 5, Super Tuesday.