Trump not liked, but Cruz liked even less

Remember last week when I said that May 3rd will likely be a critical pivotal point in the American presidential primary process and that if Donald Trump wins Indiana then he has a very good shot at winning the nomination before the convention?

Well even I underestimated the pivotal nature of the Indiana primary. So colossal was Trump's win that both Ted Cruz and John Kasich have thrown in the towel. The win in Indiana was truly a blowout. I explained last week that Indiana is a winner take-all state but only 30 delegates go to the nominee who wins a plurality of votes in the whole state and 27 delegates are allotted to 9 electoral districts (3 each). So, it was possible for Cruz or Kasich to pick up an electoral district or two and to thus to have gained a few delegates but Trump won all 9 electoral districts. He took all 57 delegates.

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For anyone who doubted that Trump could win the nomination, their doubts were ended with the massive 53 per cent win that Trump obtained. Kasich and Cruz together only got 44 per cent of the vote. Cruz could see on Tuesday night that he really had no chance to put in a legitimate bid to beat Trump at the convention.

There has been some excellent analysis as to why the Cruz campaign failed to ignite support to stop Trump from gaining the nomination. The fact is that most establishment Republicans did not rush Cruz's aid to help him stop Trump. Cruz's team was working very, very hard to try to convince pledged delegates to switch their support if there was a contested convention.

CNN did an excellent report to explain that Cruz was working hard going back through the states that had already voted in the primaries to try to convince delegates to vote for him after the first ballot (or second depending on the state's rules for releasing delegates) at the convention. I was fascinated by this strategy. The report said that Cruz had a good ground team and that he was trying to make inroads in preparation for a contested convention.

In an excellent article published by the Brookings Institution entitled, "How Ted Cruz lost long before Indiana" author Elaine Kamarck explains that: "...the Cruz campaign understood that the nomination isn't over until the delegates voted and in many states they played a very savvy delegate game." But, [she writes] to really get delegates to vote against the voters in the primaries, a candidate needs to be liked, if not loved, by the other leaders of the party. That was not one of Ted Cruz's strengths, to say the least. In fact, just this week the former speaker of the House, John Boehner, called Cruz "Lucifer," stating, 'I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.' Ted Cruz's strategy of working hard to be disliked inside the Beltway in order to be liked outside the Beltway was a costly strategy for someone seeking a presidential nomination the old-fashioned way."

This analysis led me to think about the importance of likeability in politics. Recently my daughter asked me how a person becomes leader of a political party. I can only hope that there was more than just casual interest in the answer to this question but anyway... I said that a critically important aspect of becoming party leader is a very long, dedicated commitment to the party. There are tremendous benefits to be gained over a lifetime of putting up lawn signs for candidates and staffing phones and stuffing envelopes (ok, I show my age... it should say tweeting out information - they don't stuff envelopes anymore). Party politics is about wooing people to your side and about showing leadership skills but party politics is also about creating friendships and demonstrating an ability to work with others.

While many Republicans don't seem to like Trump, one wonders if, in this case, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has decided to go with the devil they don't know.

Many pundits are expressing incredulity at the fact that the Democratic nomination process is taking longer than the Republican contest. The way things are going I am not willing to make any predictions in the Democratic primary. I think it best to say again, "stay tuned..."

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