BATON ROUGE – With only three months to go until the Republican National Convention, frontrunner Donald Trump seems to be feeling the tension as he looks to collect the necessary 1,237 delegates to secure the party’s nomination for president.
Recent victories haven’t yielded the delegates he expected, leading the New York billionaire to be outspoken and critical of the delegate process, including threatening a lawsuit against the Republican National Committee (RNC) after his win in Louisiana.
“Just to show you how unfair Republican primary politics can be, I won the State of Louisiana and get less delegates than Cruz-Lawsuit coming,” Trump tweeted on March 27.
Political parties set the rules for delegates, Robert Hogan, a Louisiana State University political science professor, told the Louisiana Record. Trump is complaining that his popularity in certain states doesn’t translate into delegates.
Trump seems to believe “the Republican Party in these states is conspiring somehow to deprive him of delegates he believes he deserves,” Hogan said.
The GOP in Louisiana divides delegates proportionally, which is the alternative to the more straightforward winner-take-all type of primary.
Trump was awarded 18 of Louisiana’s 46 delegates after he won 41 percent of the state’s popular vote on March 5. Ted Cruz, who garnered 37 percent of the popular vote, also was awarded 18 delegates. Marco Rubio took five but later dropped out of the race, freeing those delegates to make their own choice at the convention. Reports have said they will likely back Cruz.
The state’s remaining five delegates remain uncommitted to any candidate. So, conceivably, Cruz could come out with 10 more delegates than Trump from the state.
In total, Trump has 744 delegates to Cruz’s 545 and John Kasich’s 144. There are 852 delegates still up for grabs.
Hogan said Trump’s complaints appear to be counting on the general lack of understanding people have for the delegate process.
“Most people have no idea how it works,” he said. “The great misperception out there that I think is perpetuated by the national media is that there’s a great correspondence between how one does in the popular contest and how many delegates one gets.”
The delegate process, which varies in its complexity by state, can allow a well-organized candidate to have more influence than he or she seem to deserve, Hogan added. As an outsider, Trump is at a disadvantage.
“I think he’s right — the system is set up so the party insiders ... have a disproportionate influence,” Hogan said.
Insiders like Cruz, whose supporters secured five of the state’s six seats on the convention’s three committees that will write the rules and the platform at the convention in July.
But that’s not exactly how Trump is putting it to the public, Hogan said. Instead, he’s making it look like party leaders are conspiring against him, when, in reality, this is just how the process works.
As for Trump’s threat — that would fall in line with his apparent public relations strategy.
“He’s trying to paint the party as an elitist organization that’s against him,” Hogan said. "That would help him make that case.”
But with the convention coming up fast, Hogan said time isn’t on Trump’s side. The nomination in July won't wait for the outcome of a lawsuit.