Repub­li­cans ad­justed the rules for their pri­maries af­ter 2012, and it’s help­ing Trump

The Washington Post - - POLITICS & THE NATION -

Much to the dis­may of some Repub­li­cans, the party’s pri­mary process is work­ing just as in­tended. De­signed to choose a nom­i­nee quickly, this year’s rules have ad­vanced the air of in­evitabil­ity form­ing around Don­ald Trump, who has won 15 of the first 24 con­tests.

MORE VOTES MEANS EVEN MORE DEL­E­GATES

Top-per­form­ing can­di­dates get more del­e­gates than their vote to­tals might sug­gest. Trump won about 35 per­cent of all the votes cast through March 8 but earned 43 per­cent of the del­e­gates avail­able in those con­tests. Ted Cruz, who won six states in that time pe­riod, also ben­e­fited a bit from rules that help the lead­ing can­di­dates. This del­e­gate boost will grow come March 15, when most states have rules that fa­vor the front-run­ner.

LEAV­ING IT UP TO THE STATES

The Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee gives states and their par­ties lee­way to de­cide their pro­cesses within some bound­aries, re­sult­ing in a patch­work of rules. Only one-quar­ter of the del­e­gates are given out in strictly pro­por­tional states.

HOW THE SCHED­ULE HAS CHANGED

This year’s del­e­gate penal­ties are much more strict. The party banned Jan­uary con­tests and al­lowed only four states to vote in Fe­bru­ary. It also made the last pri­mary ear­lier, short­en­ing the cy­cle so a nom­i­nee would more quickly emerge from the field and be bet­ter po­si­tioned for the gen­eral elec­tion.

HOW IM­POR­TANT IS MARCH 15?

The party also halved the time frame in which states are re­quired to dis­trib­ute del­e­gates pro­por­tion­ally, which spans March 1 to 14 this year, com­pared with all of March in 2012. For this rea­son, con­tests from March 15 on be­come far more con­se­quen­tial and far more fa­vor­able to the front-run­ner. Trump can lock up the nom­i­na­tion by win­ning th­ese.

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