The contest for the Republican Party's 2016 presidential nomination has become so raucous, xenophobic, bigoted, and overall ugly that I find myself desperately reaching for facts to counteract the flood of hateful talk spewing from the mouths of the candidates. What follows is as much security blanket as analysis. Use it as you will.
Here are some indubitable facts:
1. Contrary to present appearances, the Republican Party will nominate someone to serve as their standard bearer in the 2016 election. I know that there are House races, and even the occasional Senate race, in which one party simply takes a pass, but I am convinced, after a deep historical and ideological examination, that the Republicans will indeed nominate someone.
2. There will be 2470 delegates to the Republican Convention. Therefore, a candidate must accumulate 1236 delegates in the state caucuses and primary elections in order to enter the Convention assured of nomination. The allocation of delegates to the several states is determined by a complex formula that takes into account the number of Representatives and Senators each state elects, whether the state voted for the Republican candidate in 2012, and so forth. Those interested in the details can consult this website.
3. If no candidate has won 1236 delegates, the nominee will be chosen on the floor of the Convention. This has not happened since the modern system of primaries was instituted. It is the secret wet dream of all TV commentators, but I am on balance doubtful that it will happen in 2016. However, that is by no means certain.
4. Each state has its own rules, regulations, and deadlines governing the selection of delegates. Some of these are determined by the state Secretary of State and are binding on both major parties; others are determined by the state Republican Committee; and still others are determined by the National Republican Committee.
5. It is not at all a trivial matter to ensure that a candidate appears on the ballot in all fifty states [and the Territories, but never mind those.] A candidate's campaign operation must have people knowledgeable about such matters who keep track of all the rules so that the candidate even has a chance of picking up delegates. All eyes may be on Iowa and New Hampshire, but those two states together only account for 53 of the 2470 Convention delegates.
6. There are deadlines that must be met if a candidate wishes to appear on the primary ballot, and those deadlines will start coming up almost before we know it. As everyone knows who is really paying attention, the first four caucus and primary states are Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, with Iowa leading off on February 1, 2016. But on March 1, 2016, a large number of states hold their caucuses and primaries -- this is referred to as Super Tuesday. Here are some deadlines for just four of those states:
Virginia [49 delegates] and Louisiana [46 delegates], December 10, 2015
Texas [155 delegates], December 14, 2015
Ohio [66 delegates], December 16, 2015.
In short, during one week a month and a half before the Iowa caucuses, the deadlines will come up for filing in four states that produce a quarter of the delegates needed to win the nomination.
It would be extremely interesting to know whether the Trump, Fiorina, and Carson campaigns, for example, have fulltime staffers concentrating on meeting these and the other forty-six deadlines. If they do not, it will not matter how well they do in Iowa and New Hampshire.
I desperately hope that the Sanders campaign has someone handling these technical matters. You can be absolutely certain that the Clinton campaign is all over this like white on rice [as we used to say in the UMass Afro-American Studies Department.]