In Donald Trump’s latest tantrum on the campaign trail, he railed against the election officials in Colorado after Senator Ted Cruz won all thirty-four delegates in the statewide caucuses on Saturday. Trump elevated his anti-establishment rhetoric against the Colorado GOP Party leaders who opted for a different approach in picking their delegates.
Colorado is one of the six vote casting states or territories “that opted not to hold Republican presidential caucuses or a primary decided by voters.” Back in August, the state avoided a straw poll altogether, which left them out of the early nomination process. Party leaders wanted to avoid binding their delegates to candidates who might not be in the race closer to the convention. No one complained.
The changes did not stop there. Colorado Republicans met at 2,917 precinct caucuses on March 1 to select delegates to represent their counties at the caucuses which were held on Saturday. Once again, this did not ruffle any feathers.
Finally, Saturday came. Here, three delegates and three alternates from each of the seven congressional districts, and another 13 to represent statewide met in Colorado Springs to listen to and vote on over 600 candidates, who were able to state their case in about 20 seconds.
Of the three serious GOP contenders, Senator Cruz was the only candidate to appear in person. Governor John Kasich sent a surrogate speaker, the former senator John E. Sununu of New Hampshire. Donald Trump did not attend. This showed.
There are two takeaways for those of us who are still following the race.
First, Senator Cruz is a master of the campaign ground game. According to the Denver Post, “Trump’s campaign didn’t put a visible paid staffer on the ground in Colorado until last week.” In contrast, the same article noted that “Cruz supporters worked quietly behind the scenes to build an organization to get like-minded Republicans to the March 1 precinct caucuses and capitalized on the Trump campaign’s failure to adapt to the system.”
This last bit on Trump’s campaign failure leads us to our second takeaway. Donald Trump simply does not understand how elections work. He believes that direct primaries (which he tends to win) are the only “fair” form of election. Anything less is “rigged” or “crooked”, as he lamented in an interview on Fox News on Monday.
Unfortunately, like many of Trump’s statements, that is blatantly false. Each state is allowed to determine its own electoral protocol, which was promulgated well ahead of Saturday’s caucuses. Sorry, Mr. Trump, that’s just how it works.