Pennsylvania is Now Ground Zero

Now that New York’s primaries are over, things are about to heat up in my home state of Pennsylvania, which will also host the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. For the Republicans, the state is going to be a hot topic for the simple reason that its 54 Republican delegates will go to Cleveland for their convention unbound to any candidate. Instead, they will be informed be the preferences of the people who elected them.

The reason this matters (or could matter, more accurately) is spelled out by #NeverTrump leader Rich “Starbursts” Lowry in the National Review. Actually, he’s citing University of Georgia political science Professor Josh Putnam.

In other words, if you refuse to give Donald Trump credit for winning any of those 54 delegates from Pennsylvania regardless of what the voters do at the polls next Tuesday, and you also subtract those three automatic delegates from West Virginia, then Trump needs a very high 63.53% of the remaining delegates to reach the magic number before arriving in Cleveland.

And that could give the Republican National Committee heartburn, because until a candidate can demonstrate that they’ve reached a majority of the delegates, it’s not clear that they can hand over control of or planning for the convention schedule. Who gets to speak? When do they get to speak? What kind of videos will they show? What kind of music will they play? What’s the theme?

Trump wants a big, splashy show-bizzy convention that will be fabulous. But he may have to settle for Reince Priebus’s sense of style and party-planning.

Of course, Trump is not going to take this lying down. If he doesn’t win that 63.53% of the remaining delegates but crushes with the voters in Pennsylvania, he’s going to demand the keys to the convention and threaten to crush anyone who screws him.

And that’ll be hard to resist because Trump is likely to prevail once those Pennsylvania delegates actually cast their votes. He’ll have the nomination and a crappy convention (by his estimation) to sell it to the American people.

That’s when he’ll say, “Hey, Reince, you’re fired!”

But Rich Lowry and the #NeverTrump folks don’t care, and Mitch McConnell is still holding out hope for a brokered convention.

Good times.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at