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