Will Donald Trump Lose Delegates At A Contested Convention? The Donald May Be Getting Outgamed

As the odds of a contested Republican convention steadily increase, candidates and their allies are neck-deep in the thorny, complex business of winning over delegates. In all likelihood, Donald Trump will be the delegate leader when the convention begins, but if the first round of voting fails and the convention becomes contested, all bets are off. So, will Donald Trump lose delegates at a contested convention?

It's impossible to say for sure — we won't truly know the answer until the delegates are casting their votes on the convention floor. But all indicators suggest that yes, Trump will lose delegates after the first round of balloting. According to a new report in Politico, in fact, Trump will lose at least 100 delegates if the convention is contested.

There are two big reasons for this. The first is organizational: Donald Trump's campaign just hasn't done an effective job getting his supporters elected to delegate slots. That's important, because at a contested convention, most of the delegates will be allowed to vote for whichever candidate they want to after the first ballot. Those subsequent votes determine the nominee, and so the whims and desires of individual delegates will play a significant role in choosing the eventual nominee.

With this in mind, all of the campaigns are working quietly to stack each state's roster of delegate with their own loyalists, and most reporting suggests that Trump has fallen badly behind in this process. In Louisiana, for example, Ted Cruz's campaign ensured that delegates who were otherwise pledged to support Marco Rubio would throw their support behind the Texas senator in the event of a contested convention. Cruz has also finessed delegates in Virginia and elsewhere, and in a meeting with GOP chief Reince Priebus on Thursday, Trump reportedly chastised an aide for failing to lay the groundwork needed to win over delegates.

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So that's one reason Trump will probably lose a lot of votes after the first ballot. The second reason is structural: A good chunk of the delegates are party insiders with deep ties to the GOP, and Trump doesn't command anything resembling loyalty from the Republican Party. Indeed, one could make the argument that he's intentionally destroying the GOP. The thing is that Republican National Committee rules require 168 delegates to be members of the RNC itself, and only one of those delegates has publicly voiced support for Trump. If voting at the convention goes past the first ballot, a whole lot of these RNC members will ditch Trump, because so far, he's been nothing short of a nightmare for the GOP.

At this stage in the game, it's impossible to say who would triumph in a contested convention. Not all of the delegates have been selected yet, and the backroom wheeling and dealing is far from finished. But every single delegate will count, and by all indications, Trump is on course to lose a lot of them.