An Unfair, Post-Hoc Critique of Nate Silver

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Vikram Bath

Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1.

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145 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon says:

    How should we judge him?

    How should we judge everyone who posted on this site that there was no way Trump would win and were surprised each month by how he kept rolling on? That way.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Damon says:

      The only thing I’ve said is that Trump is unlikely to win the presidency.
      I still stand by that, even as it becomes likely that he’ll win the nomination.Report

    • Avatar Mo in reply to Damon says:

      If he doesn’t win, doesn’t that mean that Silver was right? Silver said he had a 2% chance of winning, not a 2% chance of being right. Just because a 15 seed has a 2% chance of winning a game and is unexpectedly close in the 2nd half with odds higher than 2% doesn’t mean the 2% was wrong.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Mo says:

        @mo @kim

        First it was:

        Not electable
        Racist speech, never get any delegates
        ETC.

        It’s been a slow backpedal from “he has no chance in hell for anything” to “unlikely he’ll be president”. All I’m saying is that folks are underestimating him, and the american populace, all along. In some ways, that’s good. Some bad, depending upon how you view the american populace.Report

        • Avatar Mo in reply to Damon says:

          Except if Trump loses because he can’t get past 50% of delegates for the first round and then subsequently loses, Silver’s situations #5 and #6 will bear out. So does that mean he was wrong? If I say there’s a 2% chance of flipping heads 6 times in a row and there’s no chance you’re doing that, I’m not wrong if you get heads 5 times and fail at 6.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Mo says:

        That’s actually my only problem with Silver’s predictions – the predicted probabilities are inherently unfalsifiable (unless at 0 or 100) because each prediction has one ultimate result, and not repeated trials.

        (and it’s not like he’s an oddsmaker that has to pay out, which does provide a feedback loop to repeated predictions)Report

  2. Avatar Chris says:

    Interesting that Silver would make one of the most basic modeling mistakes: assuming your predictors are independent.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Chris says:

      All those things that one is supposed to consider when building an actual model — covariance, heteroscedasticity, distribution of the residuals, etc — make for good models and bad reading. Not surprising, given that all of the numbers Silver is using are essentially made up, not measured.Report

  3. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Do you mean no one other than regular people? Just pundits? Because I was saying, “Hold off on dismissing Trump” when everyone else was saying “I’m going to dismiss Trump now & will revisit if his poll numbers are still what they are after Thanksgiving. I mean The New Year. I mean on January 31st.” Etc. And I was holding back to avoid coming off as some kind of booster. I didn’t exactly predict the degree of success, but in October I wouldn’t have said his chances were 0% or 2%. I think I would have said they were some combination of incalculable because he was such a strange case, and something on the order of 15% to 20% (keeping in mind there were 17 candidates at that time), wth a lean toward the latter.

    I would say that not having establishment support is not just the same as not having good organization, though the former contributes to the latter. I think you can clearly build a good organization by being good at fundraising and being smart about the process and whom to hire on you own. But I do think that not having a good organization is the same thing as not being able to work the rules effectively. Also, lacking establishment support negatively affects your ability to work the rules. But I wouldn’t say they’re all just the same thing. But they’re certainly interconnected.

    I had a discussion with CK about this concept on Twitter after Super Tuesday. He was saying Trump significantly underperformed, winning I think it was 8 out of 11 contests when there had been talk of Trump sweeping. I said that that talk completely skewed expectations, because in a series of 11 events with a probability of between .6 and say .8 of a particular outcome happening in each one, those .2 to .4’s multiply (well, really the .6s & .8s multiply) to produce a very low probability of sweep of all those specified outcomes happening in every case. So the baseline should have been 9 or 10 out of 11 as a phenomenal night, making 8 (or was it 7?) underperforming the top reasonable expectation by a little, making it still a great igh (I think the question at issue was speciically, :Was it a great night?”)

    CK was saying it was not at all a great night, because 8 (or 7?) reflected signficant underperformance comared to expectations. nd his reasoning there was elegant: he was suggesting a national trend suggesting slowing momentum for Trump. That argument elegant because 1) such a national trend would be an important narrative change in the direction of the campaign, and 2) he was countering my statisitical point about multiplying probabilities across events by saying that the Super Tuesday primaries were not independent events. He said it was like the probability that if it rains in his front yard, what the probability of it raining in his back yard is. Obviously if it’s a 70% chance for rain in his front yeard it;s not a .7*.7 chance of rain in his back yard. I conceded there was probably some linked causality among the Super Tuesday states, (national media, etc.), but also pointed out that they are quite diverse, and fairly randomly assigned to one night. So I said I thought it was somewhere in between independent and perfectly linked, but that my point about the sweep being unlikely because, however mch we adjust the probailities to due linkage, there is still a multiplying of probability effect in getting to the sweep. At least, though, the 11 Super Tuesday contests were genuinely different events, unlike Silver’s muddy differentiation of against-Trump factors.

    Anyway, suffice to say, your point that the simple approach of multiplying probabilities across events to get the probability of an a AND b AND c AND n outcome is indeed too simple unless you can verify that the events are truly independent is a good one. But OTOH, it also seems surely there are degrees of interdependence (or independence) between none (coin flips) and 1-to-1 (or near 1-to-1) correspondence (is it raining on both you front and back yards?). And it seems like a tough thing to estimate those correspondence levels just by eyeballing them, and then also tough to figure out how to apply them to the simple “multiply probabilities” formula for figuring multiple-event outcomes. Seems like it might have to involve math. Like, real math, not just multiplying fractions.Report

  4. The non-independent factors are certainly a legitimate critique, but my broad take is that Silver’s (and everyone else’s) analysis included a tacit assumption that past results are useful models. This is all well and good until the party goes through its semi-centennial realignment, as seems to be happening here. Should he have predicted that this realignment would happen? Perhaps, but predicting the timing is like predicting when a bubble will burst.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      The issue is if past results didn’t actually test a Trump’s performance. All the past results just may not have had a Trump in them to see what would happen. If we look at Trump like an exotic virus a la Contagion, it may be that the correct thing would have been to predict this if we had the right information about the nature of the host (regardless of its ripeness for realignment) and the contagion. But we just didn’t have that information because Trump is a new kind of virus (maybe), or maybe the host has evolved a new vulnerability (social media or even just the cable V-internet media culture in general coming to fruition?) to a virus like Trump. Apart from realignment (though I’m also not hostile to a primarily-realignment explanation of this situation).

      So, before extrapolating from past results, you have to verify that the results you have to look at are relevant to the present situation.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Michael Drew says:

        It seems like it was a combination: the host was uniquely weakened by first W then the nature of the economic recovery, then finally by their developing resistance to their traditional medicine (culture issues), then Trump came along. Right place, right time, Trump would have bounced like a dead cat in any of the preceding presidential primaries though 2012 did show warning signs.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      Yes, if Silver had somehow predicted the schism in the GOP before it happened they’d be building him a pyramid to live in around DC as we speak.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      Indeed. Predicting the timing, like catching a falling knife, is a mistake.
      Start the avalanche, and then collect the winnings.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I don’t think anyone really has a good explanation about why Trump is doing as well as he is doing. Even the people who took Trump more seriously in the summer of 2015 are probably somewhat blind sided by the level of his success. This is also true of Sanders but to a much smaller extent.

    There could be a million reasons why Trump is tapping into the zeitgeist of the GOP faithful but disenchanted. The most recent explanation came from the New Republic and it is the so-called 1099 economy:

    https://newrepublic.com/article/132407/voters-angry-its-1099-economy-stupid

    I think the reason wonks are perplexed by the rise of Trump is the big sort. They are not part of the 1099 economy or if they are it is by choice and want instead by force and lack of better options. They tend to be pretty well paid and not stretched thin. When I was doing 1099 work, I made 80,000 dollar a year and needed to pay for all my expenses. 80,000 a year is nothing to laugh at but during my brief time as a full employee with benefits I made 85,000 plus largely subsidized health insurance and paid vacation and sick time. So you could argue that my real and intangible wages were probably closer to 100,000. Now my commuting costs were much higher because of all the gas and tolls but that is another story.

    It used to be that freelancers were paid much better than staff employees. Now it seems like staff employees get higher wages, more benefits, etc.Report

  6. Avatar North says:

    I will note first that Trump has not won the nomination yet. Hurdles #5 and #6 remain looming and it’s looking increasingly unlikely that Trump will clear #5 which opens up a lot of room for mischief in the department of hurdle #6. If someone other than Cruz were the runner up candidate we’d probably be taking it as a given that he was going to be the GOP nominee.

    I was a Trump skeptic and remain one (40% is the odds I’m giving him now of actually getting the nod) but I’ll be the first to admit that I massively underestimated his pull or rather massively underestimated just how badly wounded the GOP establishment is by the legacy of W and the opposing interests of their base/elite without the heady opiates of the culture war to smooth them over. Mea maxima culpa.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

      @north

      The problem with #6 is that it is a kind of a Hobson’s choice. Can it stop Trump? Yes. Can Trump still win enough primaries and delegate votes that using #6 will blow up the GOP? Almost certainly.

      Trump is going to win New York and will probably do fairly well in California if not win it. The remaining states are largely places that would be very unfriendly to a candidate like Cruz.

      Now New York magazine is theorizing that Ryan is going to step in though.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        If ya think Trump not winning will blow up the convention imagine what Ryan being handed the nod will do. I don’t know if I want to see it primarily because I’m afraid that the GOP would somehow revert to the mean and unite behind that creature.

        My core point is that Trump is far from a forgone conclusion yet. I do agree that he’s going to win New York but it is unlikely he’s gong to rake in enough lopsided wins to get to the magic number.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North says:

          Trump might still be deeply unappealing to Republican leadership and many of their electorate but he is going to have the biggest plurality of delegates at the Convention. Republican leaders also know that Cruz has even a smaller chance of winning a general than Trump does because he is less charismatic and more revolting to people in the general. Republican leaders also know that the enthusiasm of Trump’s followers is genuine and they will be angry if their leader does not get the nod. At the same time, I see the Republicans rallying less enthusiastically around Trump than the Democratic Party around Sanders.Report

          • Avatar Art Deco in reply to LeeEsq says:

            Republican leaders also know that Cruz has even a smaller chance of winning a general than Trump does because he is less charismatic and more revolting to people in the general.

            They do not know that because it is not true. Cruz polls better than Trump does against both Sanders and Clinton. (And Clinton maintains no secure lead over Cruz).

            Bad idea to fancy your circle of friends has the same attitude as the median voter.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to LeeEsq says:

            The delegates are like half way between the establishment and the base; they’re party stalwarts but they’re not DC party people, they’re chosen in their states. If you look into the matter you’ll find that Teddy Cruz has been up to his elbows in the arcana of delegate selection for a while now. As soon as the first vote goes off without a majority candidate a whole mess of those delegates unbind and there’s Ted Cruz waiting to court them.
            I agree that the DC establishment hates Cruz but that shouldn’t hold too much water with most of those delegates and Cruz has been investing a lot in them. If he can hold Trump under the magic number (and his odds look good for that) then I’d be very surprised if Cruz doesn’t hit it in the second or third round of voting.

            This assumes, however, that no one counts noses and cuts a deal in the pre-convention stage and that the DC elite doesn’t break the glass and do something really crazy. I think the odds of the former are significant but the latter are dubious.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Now New York magazine is theorizing that Ryan is going to step in though.

        They need something to fill their column inches. It’s just ‘material’.

        Something David Broder said a generation ago applies: when you’re out of things to write about, you can always invent a presidential candidate. If he’s not nominated, no one remembers. If he is, you’re a prophet. Suggest much the same impulse likes behind much journalism on posited disasters in waiting (see Nassim Taleb).Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Art Deco says:

          I’m inclined to agree, frankly, I don’t see Ryan making that jump to be honest. He may be the GOP kind of magic math but even he would know that’d be a disastrous career move for him.Report

  7. Avatar trizzlor says:

    Funny, my conclusion was the complete opposite: someone who claims to be making an informed, model-based prediction should be criticized much more strongly than someone who admits that they’re just winging it. The former is implicitly claiming precision while the latter is basically admitting that their prediction comes with massive error, and being honest about what you *don’t* know is deeply under-appreciated in political media.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to trizzlor says:

      +1.

      The attitude about other pundits and the arrogance about their own work that 538 brought to the big-media phase of their project really bothered the hell out of. It was much more impressive when Nate was modestly getting everything right, not making a distinctive brand of shitting on the rest of the media while padding out much of his site beyond the politics stuff that he or Enten worked closely on with takes that were no more data-driven or judicious than your average post at The Fix.Report

  8. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Trump’s skeptics biggest faults that they looked at Rubio and said, “that’s him, that’s the Republican nomination.” Ezra Klein admitted as much in an interview because Rubio confirmed very closely to the party decides model.Report

  9. Silver remained skeptical on Trump’s chances long, long after most other people were looking at the primary results and going, “okay, Trump’s actually a danger at this point”. He wasn’t part of an overwhelming majority of people who were wrong – he was, on his own, pretty uniquely wrong. He kept on predicting victory for a candidate who was early to drop out (Rubio) and failure for a candidate who kept on winning (Trump).

    My assessment is that Nate’s good at analyzing hard numbers – polls, sports stats, and the like. But this election he tried to move heavily into political analysis, not just polling analysis. That’s a lot more subjective, so he got tripped up by his own biases – his own views lean towards the centrist, policy-wonk domain, so he doesn’t think highly of populists like Trump or Sanders. Those biases led him to conclude that they had poor chances of winning. As a result, he’s been wrong about the Republican race at pretty much every turn – he thought Rubio would do well because Rubio (appearing, though not being, “moderate”) was the candidate Nate preferred, and he thought Trump was a flash in the pan because he found Trump distasteful.

    In political analysis, as in economics, your model is only ever as good as your starting assumptions. Nate’s starting assumptions were poor, largely due to being based on personal bias. From here on in – heck, from mid-February at lastest – there’s no reason to take his poltiical analysis any more seriously than any other random person making predictions on the internet. His polling models, in a presidential race (where polling is a bit more solid than in the primaries) might still be worth watching, though not worth taking as absolute truth.

    The liberal doctrine of Silverian infallibility has been pretty thoroughly demolished.Report

  10. Avatar Stillwater says:

    How ought we judge Silver for this?

    Just as erratically as you did in the post, I suppose. 🙂Report

  11. Avatar Autolukos says:

    I doubt we are the only parallel universe out of 50 that has Trump winning the nomination.

    Currently, it seems like the best we can say for Trump is that he’s passed the first four stages (and the fifth doesn’t seem to be going well for him); this, if we accept Silver’s model, suggests that we are only in the one universe of 16 in which Trump has reached this stage.

    For all the credit people are giving Trump for his success (and he deserves some!), he should be thanking his lucky stars that his most popular opponent is still struggling to get the party’s elite to fall in line and, conversely, that the same elite went through two favorites who failed to catch on with voters. In the universes where Cruz gets on better with his colleagues or where Jeb! or Rubio pull in some early wins, Trump is almost certainly just another Sanders.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Autolukos says:

      he should be thanking his lucky stars that his most popular opponent is still struggling to get the party’s elite to fall in line

      Wasn’t the initial GOP field lauded, far and wide, as being the deepestest of all time? Jindal, Rubio, Walker, that other guy, Fiorina, what’s his name, Jeb!…..

      Cruz was always hated. And he’s the bones the GOP is picking right now.Report

      • Avatar Autolukos in reply to Stillwater says:

        As I put it a while back, the bench may or may not be deep, but the starters seem to suck. The sunniest spin would be that the GOP trotted out the best 6th man in the league as the centerpiece of their starting lineup.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Autolukos says:

          Oh, the Cubs have had a lot of years where that sorta logic kept it interesting. “Hey, we thought we had REAL STARTERS this season, guys who’d compete! But the way it turned out we’re gonna find saps to trade em to or send em back down.”

          This year, tho, the Cubs are the deepest team in the bigs. Ain’t no lie! This year we’re going all the way!Report

          • Avatar Autolukos in reply to Stillwater says:

            I like that you improved my basketball analogy by applying it to a better sport 🙂

            Anyhow, I figure they trade Rubio away for some prospects and demote Jeb! to middle relief for 2020.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Autolukos says:

              Jeb will be lucky to get a coaching job. Really lucky.

              Rubio I think you send down to learn how to not bail on the ankle breaking curve and to not swing at high heat. (Tell him to drink plenty of fluids.)

              But to get back to seriousness for a bit: do you really think that all those early declarers were second stringers from a GOP pov? In my view they were literally the best talent the GOP had to offer, and that talent was in abundance. And they all got crushed.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                A year ago, I would have said something like “Holy cow! Look at the depth of the Republican bench! And the Democrats are positively anemic!”

                Trump beat everybody up in such a way that they can’t run again. When Ford beat Reagan in ’76, it didn’t leave Reagan in disgrace. Instead, everybody knew that, next time, Reagan was going to be a dang chainsaw.

                How many Republican candidates got destroyed? (And not John Oliver destroyed either?) Rubio, Jeb, are two that are obvious. Are there more? (How smart was Rand to drop out before New Hampshire? My god, Trump would have taken him apart.)Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jaybird says:

                I think the issue is that people gave Republican’s too much credit when they essentially had easy wins if they didn’t say stupid things about abortion or immigrants, because the shift in the midterm electorate hadn’t been totally accepted.

                So, in 2010, Marco Rubio winning a Senate seat in Florida seemed like a big deal. But, now we know that a midterm election for the next few years give the GOP a few point advantage, that doesn’t seem like such a star making performance anymore.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Jaybird says:

                Cruz is competing quite well. He’s not ‘destroyed’. Both Gov. Walker and Gov. Jindal are fairly young and quite talented.

                Most declared candidates for president perform poorly and with little doubt there would have only been four competitive candidates had Trump never entered the race (out of 16 declared candidates).

                For a number of them, this campaign was intended to be their last or their penultimate campaign. Certainly so of Gilmore, Pataki, Carson, Perry, Bush, and Huckabee (all over 60) and quite possibly Santorum (age 58 and with much else to do with his life).Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Art Deco says:

                Cruz is. No one else is.

                Kasich is the only one who might also be excluded.

                The problem is that the Rethuglicants are currently playing with obscure and opaque rules to make sure that even if Trump gets close to 1237, he won’t make it past the finish line and that is going to look bad to the majority of the 1100ish delegates he will be bringing to the dance and the machinations and, yes, elitist maneuvering will present identically to a vast right wing conspiracy to these redneck hillbillies from flyover country.

                Deco, shit’s breaking all around us. It’s bad.

                The only upside is that Trump did it early. I can’t imagine what might have happened had this waited until 2024 or 2028 to start going critical.Report

              • Are Hillary and Bernie really the best the Dems have to offer? I’d like to believe that Hillary’s prohibitive advantages made the other first-rate Dems unwilling to enter the race, but for that I’d have to be able to name them.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Are Hillary and Bernie really the best the Dems have to offer?

                One of them apparently is. The other isn’t even a Democrat.Report

              • The strongest sign of the heavy anti-establishment sentiment this year is that both parties have about 40% of the vote in their primaries being won by candidates who, until recently, weren’t members of those parties.Report

              • Avatar Guy in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                There was that “draft Biden” thing going for a while. Can’t really think of any others.Report

              • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark in reply to Guy says:

                Andrew Cuomo
                Corey Booker
                Devel Patrick
                Elizabeth Warren
                Martin O’Malley
                Jerry Brown (yeah, he’s kinda old)
                Daniel Malloy
                Al Gore
                John HickenlooperReport

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Western Governors, a handful of senators (can you imagine Franken running? hahaha).Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kim says:

                I could, if he were a bit younger. Clinton will be the last boomer President.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Kim says:

                But who specifically? The farm team is thin. From among the governors, McAuliffe, Bullock, maybe Nixon? Slim pickings on the gubernatorial side, because fewer than 20 to choose from. Senate isn’t much better — Warren, Tester, Brown, maybe Kaine, maybe Gillibrand? Sure, there are others but they don’t seem even plausible. We’re looking for someone who has relative youth (currently in 40’s or 50’s) and charisma and something to recommend national attention, like getting elected in a swing state or some sort of prominence in a subject matter area. I look around who the Dems have in place now and I think, “Yeah, Clinton may well be the best available choice for them.”

                It’s entirely possible that the next Democratic nominee does not hold major public office right now, or at best is a candidate for a major office during this cycle.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

                I hasten to clarify: I don’t know that any of the specific people I named merit Presidential support right now. I can imagine that in 4-8 they plausibly might be at that level.

                Maybe experience in major office doesn’t matter? Obama had two years’ experience in major office before getting elected. Same with Ted Cruz, if he winds up winning. Trump has no governmental experience at all. Rubio was a first-termer too although it’s clear (now) that six years in the Senate wasn’t enough to ready him for top-tier competition.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Schweitzer and Hinkenlooper were mentioned a lot.
                (Wolf won’t be a horrible choice in four years)
                The Udalls and Tester aren’t bad choices either.

                Liberals would walk through hell and back to get Feingold or Warren the Presidency (doesn’t mean they’ll win, mind) — they’re about as principled as Bernie, and don’t have “kill the democratic party” as part of their top agenda.

                Understand that, like Webb, you don’t need to actually be in office to run for President, just have enough experience to be credible (bloomberg is credible, fwiw).Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Hickenlooper
                Patrick
                Klobuchar
                Baldwin
                Warren
                Durbin
                Murray
                Warner
                Vilsack
                Jeh Johnson
                Perez
                Duncan
                Lynch
                Kerry
                Gore

                Members of the House of Representatives are also allowed to run for president, as well.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Burt Likko says:

                I’m a little baffled with the idea that the Democrats *want* six or seven highly qualified people to run for president.

                They’ve been doing just fine with two or three each cycle.

                Hell, even the eventual losers weren’t particularly bad candidates. Gore was a perfectly reasonable choice and almost won *coughcough* and Kerry almost won the popular vote and, frankly, no one was going to beat Bush in the middle of a war.

                In fact, the last time the Democrats screwed up by nominating someone unelectable, it was 1988, and they did that exactly *because* there were too many people running. It’s not exactly what’s happening to the Republicans…there, the obvious front runner, who could have won, was caught in an affair…and then pulled a Perot by dropping out and coming back in weakened.

                What is happening with the Republicans is a rather unique problem in that millionaires funded pet candidates *long* after they should have dropped out. The same happened in 2012, but there, as in here, the millionaires eventually got in line…but here we also have *Trump*.Report

              • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to DavidTC says:

                and, frankly, no one was going to beat Bush in the middle of a war.

                Despite it being a war of aggression started on false pretences?

                The Democrats sure weren’t going to win against Bush by nominating a candidate who supported the war, but that’s not to say they couldn’t have won with a different strategy. Or at least could have demonstrated that they had something vaguely resembling principles.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to KatherineMW says:

                Despite it being a war of aggression started on false pretences?

                You want to go back to early 2004 and point that out to the American people?

                While you’re at it, point out that Bush is illegally wiretapping them and the New York Times is sitting on the story.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DavidTC says:

                What they needed to do was play up how Bush dodged the draft and put a real live war hero with real live Vietnam cred up against him.

                But not one who testified that soldiers were committing atrocities or bragged about throwing his medals over the White House fence. That might backfire.Report

              • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to DavidTC says:

                Uh, I was saying that in 2004, and so were other people I knew. (About the war. Not about the wiretapping, which I was unaware of.)

                The pretext for the war was laughably flimsy. And the fact of it being a war of aggression was self-evident: Was the war in response to Iraq invading the US, an ally, or a neutral nation? No. Ergo, war of aggression.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to KatherineMW says:

                A Democrat running on an anti-war platform in 2004 wouldn’t have made it to the nomination. And would have been completely destroyed in the election.

                You were saying the war was a bad idea, I was saying the war was a bad idea, but you know who *wasn’t* saying that in 2004?

                The Democratic base, of which a good portion of believed the lies of the Bush administration. Especially during the *primary*. Which really started in 2003, and ended in *mid* 2004.

                Granted, by the time of the *general* election, the paint had *started* coming off Bush’s war for the Democrats, but an anti-war candidate who had (somehow) made it through the primary would have still lost in the general election.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to DavidTC says:

                A Democrat running on an anti-war platform in 2004 wouldn’t have made it to the nomination. And would have been completely destroyed in the election.

                MBITRW, Howard Dean was the leading Democratic contender from July 2003 to January 2004. He imploded unexpectedly and completely in January 2004 when there was an extraordinarily rapid shift of public opinion toward John Kerry and John Edwards. Suggest he was just a lousy campaigner when you turned the temperature up.

                And, of course, the ‘lies of the Bush Administration’ is another red herring fancied by partisan Democrats, who are adept at projection if nothing else.Report

              • Keep telling yourself those WMDs were real.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to DavidTC says:

                A Democrat running on an anti-war platform in 2004 wouldn’t have made it to the nomination. And would have been completely destroyed in the election.

                Politics makes liars of us all, I guess.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Burt Likko says:

                Dollars to donuts that Kamala Harris, current AG and the next Senator from Cali is the next nominee after Hillary finishes her eight years. If you thought the base of the GOP hated a black guy and a woman, wait until they get a load of a black woman from California!Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                “Pro-life” groups hate her, so she can’t be all bad.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Unless Cali’s blanket primary make the general a two way race between Harris and Sanchez, and Sanchez uses her blue dog status and family connections to capture the right of center vote and poach the center to win the whole thing.Report

              • Avatar Zac in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Honestly, I assumed she’d run for Governor. And then maybe President after that, sure. She’s only 51, she’s got time.Report

              • Avatar Autolukos in reply to Stillwater says:

                I think lots of GOPers genuinely thought (and it seems like many still do) that they had a strong slate of candidates this year, but it turned out that nobody could appeal to a broad enough cross-section of the party to dominate the primary. This is particularly damning given the general tendency of Republican delegate allocation to help the frontrunner, thanks to WTA by some combination of states and congressional districts being extremely common.

                Part of this has to do with the state of the party, I think; it is probably just harder to unite the party than usual (which might suggest, contra my opening post, that Trump should get a lot of credit for fairly reliably mobilizing the largest faction). Part of it seems to be specific to the personalities in the race, though: Jeb! turned into an empty suit (if he wasn’t one all along), and Rubio went with one of those slow-starter strategies that never work.

                Of the two non-Trumps, Cruz isn’t necessarily less ideologically acceptable to the party than Rubio, but he has an unusually contentious relationship with parts of the elite, which seemingly contributed to the Rubio endorsement surge after Jeb! failed to catch on. Kasich is just running a bizarre campaign: like Ron Paul 2012 but as a pragmatic moderate instead of an ideological protest candidate.

                Trump himself has weak ties to the party, very little conventional campaign structure, and a habit of pissing off people who aren’t already supporters, which has limited his bandwagon and allowed Cruz to run strong in caucuses and conventions. I think Trump is still more likely than not to win the nomination, but he has made a lot of purely unforced errors (especially with his poor organization) and is starting to feel the downsides of being a polarizing candidate.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Autolukos says:

                Active sabotage of the establishment candidates tends to make them look worse than they are.
                The FBI didn’t exact help the GOP’s chances, either.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Autolukos says:

                Autolukos: Trump himself has weak ties to the party, very little conventional campaign structure, and a habit of pissing off people who aren’t already supporters, which has limited his bandwagon

                And the main reason Trump has gotten as far as he’s gotten is that most of those *also* apply to Cruz. Had Cruz not pissed off so many people so many times for the most temporary and illusory of personal gains, all the not-Trumps would have rallied around Cruz much earlier, probably even as early as (the first) Super Tuesday.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Kolohe says:

                Cruz is a meticulous builder of organizations. He’s at odds with McConnell over policy disagreements. McConnell is the kingpin of Capitol Hill crookery and Lindsey Graham is just a pest. That these men do not care for Ted Cruz is a mark in Cruz’ favor.Report

              • While there are a lot of people who hate Cruz’s guts, there are even more people who’ve never met him.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Autolukos says:

                I think lots of GOPers genuinely thought (and it seems like many still do) that they had a strong slate of candidates this year, but it turned out that nobody could appeal to a broad enough cross-section of the party to dominate the primary.

                That is not their problem.

                Their problem is that a lot of candidates were being supporting by millionaires *long after* they traditionally would have dropped out.

                Well, that is *part* of their problem, and why 2012 was so dumb.

                Obviously the other part of the problem this year is Trump, who demonstrated that the map showing what Republicans are supposed to care about was *complete nonsense* and Republican voters hardly cared about any of that. (A fact that, even if Trump drops out of the race tomorrow and urges all his followers to vote for Cruz, has forever changed the face of politics in this country.)Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to DavidTC says:

                What are you talking about? Five of the seventeen candidates left the race before any ballots were cast. Three departed the race after Iowa and three after New Hampshire. Of the remaining six, Jeb Bush competed in three contests; Ben Carson was formally a candidate for the first 17 contests, but didn’t invest much in most of them.

                Dr. Carson raised quite a wad of money, but > 55% of the sum of donations he received came in the form of small money and no single contributor donated more than about $150,000. The SuperPACs supporting him raised only about 20% of the sum his campaign committee did.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Art Deco says:

                What are you talking about? Five of the seventeen candidates left the race before any ballots were cast.

                Yes, and in the past, before Citizen’s United and huge amounts of money flowing around, they would have dropped out almost immediately.

                Here, they hung around during the debates, long after there was plenty of evidence they had *no support at all*. None whatsoever. Normally, people without any support don’t have any money. This time, and in 2012, they had a money supply, so hung around so it wouldn’t go away.

                Look back to 2008. (Aka, pre-Citizen’s United) According to Wikipedia, the Republican candidates were:

                Brownback, Gilmore, Tancredo, Tommy Thompson, Giuliani, Hunter, Keyes, Fred Thompson, Paul, Romney, Huckabee, and McCain. Of those 12, a third of them dropped out before any ballot, pretty much the same as the 2016 race.

                But they did it *early. Gilmore was out July 2007 and Brownback and Timmy Thompson were out August 2007. The only person who dropped out right before primary voting started, the only person who hung around in debates he really didn’t belong, was Tancredo, right up to the end.

                Meanwhile, of the five candidates that withdrew pre-voting *this* election, two them withdrew in Sept, one in Nov, and two right before the primary voting in late Dec.

                They stayed in months longer than they normally would have. Because they had financial backing.

                Additionally, that continued to happen once the primaries started, but that’s a lot harder to prove…McCain was basically selected on Super Tuesday, so we can’t compare to 2008, obviously can’t compare to 2004, and by the time we’re getting to 2000 it’s really a different world.

                But if we do want to compare, in 2000, fully *half* the candidates withdrew before the voting. I can’t seem to find out when Buchanan officially quit (To run on the Reform ticket), and Elizabeth Dole (Who I hadn’t realize ever *had* run for president!) didn’t quit until October for some reason, but everyone else was in August or before…and the remaining people left pretty much as soon as they got a few bad results, except the delusional Keyes.

                To summarize: In 2008 and before, of the 12 candidates total that dropped out before any voting, all but *two* of them dropped out August or before. In 2016, of the 5 candidates that dropped out before any voting, *all* of them dropped out September or later. (2012 was weird, as literally only one candidate withdrew before voting started. That election, candidates stayed in *no matter what*.(1))

                Ignoring a few obvious outliers, in 2008 and before, people generally dropped out of the race either a) when it because clear they couldn’t win, or b) when their money dried up, whichever came first.

                Since 2012, candidates appear to be operating under different rules, which is basically: As long as we can keep our pet millionaire spending money on us, we stay in the race.

                1) A theory about 2012 vs. 2016: In 2012, millionaires really did think they could buy the election of *very disliked* people. But they had mostly figured out this was not true in 2016, so were planning on sticking with vaguely likable people like Bush and Rubio instead. Of course, Trump then blows those plans to hell.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to DavidTC says:

                Here, they hung around during the debates, long after there was plenty of evidence they had *no support at all*. None whatsoever. Normally, people without any support don’t have any money. This time, and in 2012, they had a money supply, so hung around so it wouldn’t go away.

                The one with the largest SuperPAC haul was Gov. Perry, who was a formal candidate for less than four months. Another with an eight-digit hauler was Gov. Walker, who was a formal candidate for three months. Both left the race in September 2015.

                Gov. Gilmore, Gov. Pataki, and Sen. Santorum had between them about $2.5 million in SuperPAC donations, or a mean of about $800,000 a piece; that’s not any national politician’s idea of a huge wad of cash. All three had collected and spent more in their in-state races.

                Gov. Jindal participated in three debates. Sen. Graham in three or four. If it bothers you, you can always turn the set off.

                As for Gov. Huckabee, he’d done well in Iowa before and there had been times past when there had been abrupt shifts in public opinion in Iowa for and against particular candidates. Gov. Christie attempted to do what Gov. Kasich successfully did do, which was to establish his candidacy in New Hampshire. Christie was leading Kasich in national polling prior to that, so one can see retrospectively that there was nothing especially unrealistic about his strategy.

                Yes, and in the past, before Citizen’s United and huge amounts of money flowing around, they would have dropped out almost immediately.

                I know you want participation limited to media companies who are part and parcel of the Democratic Party nexus, but that’s not the way it is, that’s not the way it should be, and you’ll just have to learn to live with it.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Art Deco says:

                The one with the largest SuperPAC haul was Gov. Perry, who was a formal candidate for less than four months. Another with an eight-digit hauler was Gov. Walker, who was a formal candidate for three months. Both left the race in September 2015.

                And Perry *spent* all that money, really quickly, and appeared to run out of donors. The *cited reason* for him dropping out, in fact, was that he couldn’t pay his staff. It doesn’t actually matter what SuperPACs are doing if you cannot pay the actual staff of the actual campaign.

                Scott Walker *had the exact same problem*.

                http://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/scott-walker-rick-perry-super-pacs-limits-213916

                So let me modify: Everyone now stays in the race while the rich ran their SuperPAC, despite their popularity…unless they are *so* massively unpopular they literally don’t get enough non-SuperPAC donations to operate an actual campaign with actual staff. (Which obviously a SuperPAC cannot help with.)

                Assuming, of course, they are actually trying to run a serious campaign. Walker and Perry were. If you don’t care about that, you just let all your campaign staff go and…keep ‘running for office’. *cough*Carson*cough*

                Gov. Gilmore, Gov. Pataki, and Sen. Santorum had between them about $2.5 million in SuperPAC donations, or a mean of about $800,000 a piece; that’s not any national politician’s idea of a huge wad of cash. All three had collected and spent more in their in-state races.

                …you say, not bothering to *compare* to how it worked previously.

                Gilmore raised less than $400,000 in 2008.

                How much they collected for their in-state races *after the limits were removed* is hardly relevant here.

                I think perhaps I was unclear in my premise. Let me restate:

                First of all, there are two different kinds of presidential campaigns. One type is not actually expecting to win. Either a protest candidate like Ron Paul, or one that was never serious at all, and is running to promote their new book or something, like Newt Gringrich. (And let’s consider Trump a unique entry, although *before* 2016 he was the ‘not serious’ type.)

                So, removing those, we just have the semi-serious contenders. The people who at least have been convinced they *can* win. And in any campaign, there is a point where *they decide* they are not going to win. Sometimes this is due to polls, sometimes vote returns, and it is, as you point out, very subjective. But the point does, indeed, exist.

                My claim is not that any *specific* candidate has dropped out too late, it is to point out, on average, people are dropping out *months* later. What used to happen in August (people with no polling dropping out) is happening in October. What used to happen in late January (people with no votes dropping out) is being strung out into March and April.

                In fact, looking at the numbers, this effect seems inversely proportional to the original expectations. The more they clearly felt they *could* win, (Or, if you will, the more they were a ‘serious’ candidate’.) the faster they drop out when it becomes clear they can’t win. Hell, Walker probably shouldn’t have dropped out *at all*. Meanwhile, the people who had no chance…continue onward, continuing to have no chance. For a really long time.

                Also, I suspect you think I’m attacking the Republican party here, the exact same thing is happening with Democrats. Lincoln Chafee, Jim Webb and (arguably) Martin O’Malley stayed in the race longer than they logically should have over with the Democrats. (Lawrence Lessig was a protest candidate.) They just had less people to start with, so it’s less noticeable…and also they generally rely less on large donations, which is what *I* think is causing this.

                OTOH, while I am correct in people dropping out later, it’s *entirely possible* I am wrong about the reason. Maybe it isn’t the money. Maybe it’s the fact that, as the world has sped up, a candidates position can change faster than it used it…or maybe candidates just *think* that, and cling to that hope. Or maybe candidates are finding it easier to live in their own little bubble, surrounded by supporters.

                I know you want participation limited to media companies who are part and parcel of the Democratic Party nexus, but that’s not the way it is, that’s not the way it should be, and you’ll just have to learn to live with it.

                If you think the Republican party’s multiple candidates *bothered* me, you either don’t understand what it did to the race in 2012 (Caused everyone to have an extremely bad taste in their mouth by the time it ended up Romney.), and the somewhat different thing it did to the race in 2016…or you don’t know who I am.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Art Deco says:

                Ben Carson was formally a candidate for the first 17 contests, but didn’t invest much in most of them.

                Dr. Carson raised quite a wad of money, but > 55% of the sum of donations he received came in the form of small money and no single contributor donated more than about $150,000. The SuperPACs supporting him raised only about 20% of the sum his campaign committee did.

                And as an aside…Carson appears to be a victim of some sort of scam, really. He raised a hell of a lot of donations, including, as you said, a lot of money from small donors.

                And his campaign did *nothing* with that except pay people, with exactly no work to show for it. Donations go in, nothing but paychecks and invoices to go out, no ads ever get run. His campaign didn’t *do* anything.

                Oddly enough, the left, (I don’t know who exactly but I know at least Maddow had mentioned it), had been pointing this out for a while, although originally it was assumed that *Carson* was running the scam. Now it rather appears he was the victim.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to DavidTC says:

                And his campaign did *nothing* with that except pay people, with exactly no work to show for it. Donations go in, nothing but paychecks and invoices to go out, no ads ever get run. His campaign didn’t *do* anything.

                Unless you’ve audited his books, you’re talking out of your ass.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Art Deco says:

                Unless you’ve audited his books, you’re talking out of your ass.

                Dude, the *entire point* of a presidential campaign (Besides the general ballot-access and filing fees and stuff that is identical across them all.), is to *change public opinion*. A presidential campaign is essentially a PR firm.

                And interesting fact is, when people try to change public opinion, the public can usually *see the output of that*. Specifically, there are ads. And a few other things. But mostly ads. There’s very little that can be done secretly.

                Hell, all that stuff has to *explicitly* say it’s paid for by him! Right there in the ad! It’s the law!

                So we don’t need to ‘audit books’ to know how many ads’ he’s run, because newspapers actually pay attention to ads that are run. And they have noticed the Carson campaign does not have very many.

                But, as a point of fact, we actually *can* audit his books, because campaign *spending* is public anyway! While I have not done that, the media has, and there are dozens of articles out there pointing out how the Carson campaign was spending on consultants (almost all of whom are directly *linked to the campaign*.) and fund-raising, and almost nothing on *actual ads*. (Nor did it appear that those consultants were producing ads.)

                http://bigstory.ap.org/article/2297ea3b600648e3a35581572c67447f/carson-spent-heavy-consultants-light-2016-campaigning

                http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/02/ben-carsons-campaign-is-still-spending-like-crazy/458925/

                Now, it is entirely possible that Ben Carson is actually some sort of advanced AI and has no idea how humans work, and all that ‘consultant’ money was spent attempting to program him to respond to every possible question. Or perhaps he’s actually the Zodiac Killer (Unlike Ted Cruz, who I keep telling everyone *isn’t* the Zodiac Killer. Even people who do not ask.), and that ‘consultant’ money is being funneled into bribes to keep him out of prison.

                What appears more likely, however, is that the campaign staff have essentially spent his entire campaign running a fund-raising con using his name, funneling the fund-raising money into their own pockets (Via companies they operate.) instead of attempting to get Carson elected.Report

              • Avatar Zac in reply to Autolukos says:

                Autolukos:Kasich is just running a bizarre campaign: like Ron Paul 2012 but as a pragmatic moderate instead of an ideological protest candidate.

                In the modern GOP, running as a pragmatic moderate is an ideological protest.Report

            • “We traded for Cruz? The only Cuban who doesn’t know how to play?”Report

  12. Avatar DavidTC says:

    The really weird thing is, I’d sorta been assuming that Trump would win the nomination for a few months now, and *recently* I’ve changed my mind and decided he won’t.

    Not because of the votes. I do not know if he is going to get a majority or not.

    No, Trump will lose because Trump doesn’t understand how *delegate selection* works. To be fair, I didn’t either until very recently…but I’m not running for frickin president!

    In short, Trump can walk into the convention with a literal majority of delegates, with, for example, 1,250 delegates, vs. 1200 of all other people combined…but of those 1250, only ~800 of them might be supporters. So the rest will vote for someone else.

    I.e., it’s the same concept as ‘faithless elector’ in the electoral college. Except that instead of Trump making sure he had a slate of people to send, he let other people fill in his ‘electors’! DOH! (And some of them are just party officials and whatnot.)

    But DavidTC, you ask, surely you know of the rule they have to vote for the person they were sent to vote for on the first ballot?

    Well, here’s the kicker: At the start of the convention (Which is its own ‘meeting entity’ under the rules of order.), *they are the people who make all the rules*. By simple majority. Including the rule that they have to vote for who they sent to vote for!

    Of course, some of the *state* parties also have rules that delegates have to vote for who they were sent for…but *legally* the national convention does not have to obey those rules. The state party could try to kick those voters afterwards, but can’t actually control their vote. (Just like faithless electors and the supposed state laws prohibiting that. Even if those laws *are* constitutional and enforceable, it doesn’t undo what the elector did.)

    So Trump isn’t going to win the nomination. If he is going to win it, ‘the Republican party will change the rules so he doesn’t’. (Quotes because that will be the soundbite you hear over and over.)

    At which point…the party completely and utterly melts down. Entirely.(1)

    Hilariously, I could see an opponent of Trump’s seeing the total destruction of the party as an outcome, and *not* doing this…except here, the other guy is *Ted Cruz*, who is always willing to repeatedly punch the GOP in the balls just to get his name in the paper.

    Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are about to destroy the GOP, because neither of them cares the slightest bit about the GOP.

    A better outcome for the party, of course, would be if Trump did not have the clear majority, and everyone waits until the *second* vote to defect. That *might* not destroy the party.

    Regardless, whether or not Trump wins the vote, he isn’t getting the nomination.

    1) And it is too bad that Sanders is probably not going to win, because the vast angry horde of Trump voters would probably all leap to him to take down Cruz.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to DavidTC says:

      I wouldn’t blame Trump for not knowing this stuff as much as the GOP for thinking they can act on it. Doing so will only hasten the destruction of their own party. Trump is GOP kryptonite and everyone knows it except the Very Important People responsible for creating Trumptonite.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to DavidTC says:

      I generally agree with you though the odds currently look pretty lousy that Trump will even win the necessary number of bound delegates so it’ll be even easier for them than you’re laying out. They’ll just dutifully vote their obligation first round and then in round #2 or #3 they’ll mostly be formally unbound and can vote for who they like. It’ll still cause a lot of fuss but a lot less than if they flipped off their electorate on voting round #1.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to North says:

        I’m wondering if it’s going to be close enough that the delegates, not willing to risk it, do *not* put in that rule even if it doesn’t look like Trump is going to carry things.

        There are delegates that aren’t bound, even first round. Some parties release them if their candidate drops out, and there are 112 delegates who never were bound at all. Let’s say there are 150 of unbound delegates total.

        If we get to the convention, and Trump has 1,150 bound delegates, and only 60 of the unbound delegates say they are going to vote for him, for a total of 1210 votes…a lot of people are going to start eye the remaining unbound delegates nervously.

        What if 30 of them are *lying*, setting things up so that people pass the rule that everyone else has to vote for their first choice…and then, at the vote, they step forward and vote for Trump?

        Basically, to *ensure* that Trump cannot get in first round, people think he can’t get 1237, but in reality he can’t have ‘1237-minus unbound delegates’. Which is, at max, 1125, and could be lower, depending on obscure state party rules! A touch easier to get to than 1237.

        So, if he gets to that, he can, in theory, win first round, which means they have to change the rules to stop that…or trust how the unbound delegates will vote. Remember, the rules get set at the *start*. If they put that rule in place, they can’t change it when they realize, mid-convention, that Trump is going to win on the first round.

        But, yes, it all comes down to Trump’s vote total…not in who gets the nomination, but in *how torn apart the Republicans are* when Trump loses.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to DavidTC says:

          It’s possible, I give you that, but the way Cruz has people crawling all over the delegates I suspect the party is going to have a tolerable idea of where the votes are going. Let’s be clear here, passing a rule to unbind the delegates before the first round of voting is the establishment breaking the glass and pressing the huge red button. The reaction of their actual voters can only be expected to be apoplectic if basically 12 months of primaries get chucked into the trashcan at the start of the convention. You could expect both Trump and possible Cruz to go absolutely ballistic. I would expect that they’d have to be really really desperate and scared to take that step- it’s a ‘YUGE’ one.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DavidTC says:

      Possible correction: I was assuming that the first vote was a more mechanical process, where bound delegate *can’t* break the (national) rules of who they have to vote for or their vote automatically isn’t counted. I.e., I was assuming a modified voting procedure.

      It appears this is not so. Voting is completely normal. So even *with* rule 40(b) in place, they can actually vote for whoever they want.

      Of course, they’d be breaking the assembly’s rules, and if you break an assembly’s rules, you can be expelled from it…but you can only be expelled from an assembly *by vote of assembly*, which a Trump-disliking majority is unlikely to do. Also, there’s no provision in the normal rules of order for expelling someone *during a vote*, and it *certainly* doesn’t undo their already-cast vote.

      That would be completely surreal under any rules of order I’ve ever heard of.

      Does anyone know what rules of order the RNC operates under? I would assume Robert’s, except I’ve read something claiming they operate under, basically, the *House’s* rules of order, which predates Roberts and has a lot of nasty little gotchas. But it seems to, like Robert’s, require a 2/3rd majority to suspend the rules, I don’t know.

      OTOH, the interesting fact is, ultimately, an assembly is in charge of its own behavior, and in charge of interpretation of its own rules, no matter what *anyone else* thinks.

      So if the majority of people *with voting rights* do not want to pick Trump, he will not be picked even if there are supposedly ‘rules’ saying members have to vote specific ways that would end up with him picked.

      The courts generally are not willing to step in and alter something that happened by an actual majority vote. They will if a minority of people somehow slide something in against the will of the majority, like failing to give meeting notification, or voting without a quorum, or the chair overriding the expressed will of the assembly. But that is a ‘violating the bylaws’ thing.

      Someone alleging *rule* violations, courts don’t care. If the majority of an assembly want to break the rules they themselves set up, they can! Well, actually, they *can’t*, but it requires a majority of the assembly to enforce the rules, so they can!

      To keep an assembly from breaking rules, you have put those rules *outside the assembly*, aka, as bylaws. (At which point members have reasonable grounds to take the decision to court.)Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DavidTC says:

        We’re going to witness some huge change. I have no idea what it’s going to be, but the overton window has been shifted.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to DavidTC says:

        I don’t think that’s right.

        IIRC the rules specify that the delegate’s vote is to be recorded “according to their obligation” or wording along those lines. Which means that even if they stand up and say “Cruz”, if they’re a Trump delegate, their vote is supposed to get recorded in the Trump column.

        Basically, none of these deep-politics shenanigans are allowed under the current rules of the convention. Ron Paul supporters tried to pull this stuff in 2012, so the RNC re-wrote the rules to disallow it and make sure whoever came into the convention with the most votes was going to win. They didn’t realize quite how much this would bite them in the ass. If Republicans want to shut Trump out, they’re actually going to have to re-write the rules to do it.Report

        • Ron Paul supporters tried to pull this stuff in 2012, so the RNC re-wrote the rules to disallow it and make sure whoever came into the convention with the most votes was going to win.

          Only if they have 1,237 or more delegates. If it’s fewer than that, then no one wins on the first ballot. After that, delegates start becoming unbound (it’s state by state). So they’ll start being able to switch to Cruz at that point without any rule change (assuming he meets the 8-state threshold). For anyone else to be considered, they will need to change the rules.Report

          • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Will Truman says:

            I’m not saying the rules are written to require that result–they’re just written to encourage it. And that still make it Trump’s game to lose once the convention starts.

            Frankly, I think he’ll win it on the first ballot. At the rate things are going, he’ll need something like 20% of unpledged delegates to support him on the first ballot for an outright win. And I think you can convince 20% of those people that it would be better to give it to trump than to fracture the party and give it to the guy in 2nd place or worse.Report

            • The rules do encourage it, or more precisely the culture does. And with any normal nominee, it would be pre-ordained. Trump isn’t a normal nominee, Cruz is whipping up a storm, and the types of people most likely to be delegates are most likely to be Cruz people (ie more likely to have voted for Cruz in the primary).

              So… I dunno. I give Trump a greater than 50% chance to be the GOP nominee. But a lot of that is on the possibility that he gets 1237 (or somewhere north of 1225). Take that away, and advantage Cruz. Very good chance on the first ballot where a sufficient number of delegates become unbound.Report

          • Yes. Some version of the rule has been in place since the 1960s. Rule 40(b) was modified at the beginning of the 2012 convention so that Ron Paul couldn’t be placed in nomination at the convention, denying him the privilege of making a prime-time speech. Trump has met the eight-state threshold. Cruz is getting close, particularly after Wisconsin, and will almost certainly make it unless his campaign collapses completely. It is in both men’s interest — and presumably in the interests of delegates that support them — to leave 40(b) unchanged.

            At least as I understand it, the folks pushing for a Romney or Ryan face the challenge of making big changes to the rule, either in what it says or how it’s interpreted.Report

            • It is in both men’s interest — and presumably in the interests of delegates that support them — to leave 40(b) unchanged.

              It is in both men’s interest, but neither of them will have control over the situation. Neither will the party establishment, for that matter. It’s going to be up to the delegates themselves to approve whatever the rules committee puts forth. While the delegates are bound to support this person or that one, a lot of them aren’t loyal to them.

              But many of them are, and Cruz is trying pretty hard to win over a lot of them. If he can convince them that he’s their guy as soon as they become unbound, they’ll probably decline to change the rule to keep it from carrying on too long.Report

          • After that, delegates start becoming unbound.

            Does that come before or after unhinged?Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Alan Scott says:

          Okay, looking up the rules, it’s actually rule 16(a)(2) that requires delegates to vote for specific candidates. (40(b) is the ‘number of state’ rules.)

          Here’s the proposed rules:

          https://www.scribd.com/doc/122649980/2012-Rules-of-the-Republican-Party

          16(a)(2) For any manner of binding or allocating delegates under these rules, if a delegate (i)casts a vote for a presidential candidate at the national convention inconsistent with the delegate’s obligation under state law or state party rule, (ii) nominates or demonstrates support under Rule No. 40 for a presidential candidate other than the one to whom the delegate is bound or allocated under state law or state party rule, or (iii) fails in some other way to carry out the delegate’s affirmative duty under state law or state party rule to cast a vote at the national convention for a particular presidential candidate, the delegate shall be deemed to have concurrently resigned as a delegate and the delegate’s improper vote or nomination shall be null and void. Thereafter the secretary of the convention shall record the delegate’s vote or nomination in accordance with the delegate’s obligation under state law or state party rule. This subsection does not apply to delegates who are bound to a candidate who has withdrawn his or her candidacy, suspended or terminated his or her campaign, or publicly released his or her delegates.

          That is problematic under Robert’s Rules of Order. (Although less loopholes than last time. Under the rules that 2012 operated under, a Trump delegate could have just *resigned* mid-first-vote, and Trump would lose his vote.) It’s fine for a rule to dismiss someone mid-vote like that and not record their vote…inserting an *imaginary* vote is somewhat problematic, but possibly okay…but notice it’s an imaginary vote cast by someone *who isn’t a delegate* anymore and their vote is null and void! Huh?

          How can people who aren’t delegates and their vote is null and void…have a recorded vote? That’s some nice logic you’ve got there, rules committee! That said, as they’re no longer part of the assembly, they can no longer *challenge* their incorrect vote…but other people sure as hell could challenge *non-delegates* apparently voting! (Who the hell let him vote? Didn’t he just violate our rules and get kicked out *for cause*?)

          Additionally, secretaries of assemblies *are not supposed to lie*. And the second they *do* lie, especially during a roll-call vote, they will be challenged. Even if the rules say they shall lie…they can’t lie. Lying is grounds for *replacement*. No kidding: If officers are lying about who is voting in what way during a meeting, that is grounds for immediately replacement…people can just stand up, force a vote, and *take over* the meeting.(1)

          But, anyway, no one needs to do that. Here is how this works, in practice:

          Presiding officer: Trump delegate #1, who do you vote for?
          Trump delegate #1: Ted Cruz
          Chair: In accordance with rule 16(a)(2), I accept your resignation. The secretary will record your vote for Donald Trump.
          Other Ted Cruz supporter: Point of Order! He has the right to vote how he sees fit.
          Chair: No he doesn’t. 16(a)(2) says he has to vote in accordance with how he is bound.
          Other Ted Cruz supporter: I appeal that decisions.
          Yet Other Ted Cruz supporter: I second!

          And, looky, looky, it’s subject to a floor vote. A *simple majority* floor vote.

          (Again, Robert’s Rules of Order, I don’t know the weird House rules that the convention is operating under. But I do know the House is infamous for having almost no minority protections, unlike the Senate.)

          1) Not that I have ever been a part of an organization that was hostile toward its membership, to the point of trying to have two minute meetings one a year…and not that I ever studied the Rules of Order, planned a coup in a meeting, and despite that not going quite the way I planned, part of that backlash being what forced them off the board and the members ending up in charge. *shiftyeyes* No, I’ve never done that.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to DavidTC says:

            Ah, cool stuff. When I was on the budget committee staff in Colorado, and staffed Appropriations Committee meetings, I had to know the chamber rules, the committee rules, and assorted restrictions that had been either inserted into the state constitution or imposed by the state supreme court’s interpretation of the constitution. And whisper in the committee chair’s ear when they were about to do something that was clearly improper.

            I got in so much trouble my first year when I “allowed” the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee to adjourn a committee meeting with three open motions on the table. “What can I say?” I told the staff director. “I’m not really allowed to tackle him away from the microphone, am I?”Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to DavidTC says:

      I’m not sure that the GOP are so willing to alienate a large portion of their base by saying “screw democracy, we’re picking whoever we want regardless of the primary results”. Even if Trump only gets, say, 47% of delegates rather than a majority, it’ll be hard for them to pick someone else.

      I’m hoping that they’ll pick someone besides Trump – not only because I don’t want Trump as the nominee, but because it would piss him off enough for him to mount a third-party run that would destroy their chances in the general election. But I think the GOP is quite aware of that possibility as well, and, if faced with it, the delegates might end up going for Trump even if he’s a little short of a majority. Not to mention that some of the delegates might genuinely have democratic principles and feel obliged to back a candidate with near-majority support.

      By my rough calculations of the remaining primaries – if Trump wins Pennsylvania and California, he’ll likely have a majority before the convention, and get the nomination on the first ballot. If he loses both of them, plus at least one other state, the vote will go to the convention floor, and it’s likely that Cruz will be the nominee.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to KatherineMW says:

        I’m not sure that the GOP are so willing to alienate a large portion of their base by saying “screw democracy, we’re picking whoever we want regardless of the primary results”.

        See, you’re saying ‘the GOP’, but the people you’re talking about are more accurately described as ‘Ted Cruz supporters’.

        Ted Cruz is willing to burn the GOP to the ground to advance.

        Whether or not his delegates are willing to do that remains to be seen.Report

        • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to DavidTC says:

          Yeah, he’s picking up some support from delegates that are uncommitted or pledged to other candidates, but if Trump can’t get to 50%, then Cruz certainly can’t.

          Ultimately, the real deciders here are the Rubio Supporters, the Carson supporters, the single Rand Paul supporter, etc.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to KatherineMW says:

        KatherineMW: I’m not sure that the GOP are so willing to alienate a large portion of their base by saying “screw democracy, we’re picking whoever we want regardless of the primary results”. Even if Trump only gets, say, 47% of delegates rather than a majority, it’ll be hard for them to pick someone else.

        The only Republican advantage, if one wants to call it that, in this dumpster fire right now is that their brand isn’t “democracy”. The foundation of this century for the GOP was “it’s not about who gets the most votes, it’s about the rules and who wins according to the rules” – and Cruz himself was a part of that.

        I agree that there’s no way they’re going to be able to get out of Cleveland with neither Cruz nor Trump as the Presidential candidate, but it’s going to be fairly straightforward process for Cruz to convert a small deficit in pledged delegates into the nomination.Report

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