The Slatest

Trump’s Shockingly Weak Delegate Game Somehow Gets Even Worse

Donald Trump speaks at the CFE Arena during a campaign stop on the campus of the University of Central Florida on March 5 in Orlando.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s organizational problems have gone from bad to worse to flat-out embarrassing. Here’s Politico with the play-by-play from this weekend’s Colorado GOP convention, the latest scene of Trump’s delegate-securing failure:

Trump’s last-minute organizing effort did not go well. The leaflet his campaign handed out listed a slate of 26 delegates. But in many cases the numbers indicating their ballot position — more than 600 delegates [were] running for 13 slots — were off, meaning that Trump’s team was mistakenly directing votes toward other candidates’ delegates.

When the balloting results were announced Saturday evening, [Ted] Cruz picked up the 13 statewide at-large delegates chosen during Saturday’s convention, with the final three appointed automatically by the Colorado Republican Party, giving him all 34 of Colorado’s elected delegates (Trump did win six of the 34 alternate spots).

Unlike in most other states, Republicans in Colorado scrapped plans for a more traditional primary or caucus to award its delegates to this summer’s national convention in Cleveland. Instead, the state GOP selected three delegates from each of the state’s seven congressional districts at individual contests in the days leading up to the state convention, and then the remaining 13 delegates at the statewide event this past weekend. It was a rather convoluted process that favored campaigns that understood the rules and that had the ground game necessary to take advantage of them—or, put another way, not the Trump campaign.

At the first two district-level contests, the billionaire’s team showed up without an approved list of delegates to pass out to attendees, leaving supporters unsure of whom to back. And then at last Thursday’s contest, two of the three delegates on the Trump campaign’s list weren’t actually on the official ballot since they failed to pay the necessary registration fees.

This past weekend’s mix-up, though, was an even bigger embarrassment since at least one of the seven misnumbered names on the Trump-sanctioned list lined up with a Cruz-supporting delegate, according to NBC News. (Even without that mix-up, though, Cruz would have likely swept the contest anyway given his well-oiled delegate-selecting machine.) The Trump camp, though, appeared to blame the state GOP for the mistake, pointing to discrepancies between the delegate guides posted on the party’s website and the printed materials distributed at the event. “We’ll do whatever it takes to protect the legitimacy of our support in Colorado,” Trump aide Alan Cobb told NBC, suggesting the campaign may challenge the results. “Clearly there are some serious issues with the ballot and balloting.”

Trump remains the favorite to arrive at the convention with the most delegates to his name, but he’s far from assured of the majority of delegates he’d need to win the nomination on the first ballot. Given that reality, the GOP front-runner recently retooled his campaign to address his clear weaknesses in the under-the-radar battle to send loyal delegates to the convention. If those efforts don’t start paying dividends soon, though, Trump very well may arrive in Cleveland with the most delegates—and leave without the nomination.

More in Slate:

Read more of Slate’s coverage of the GOP primary.