This post has been updated.
Donald Trump got demolished in Colorado last week, a slow, brutal process in which congressional district after congressional district selected delegates to the national convention and delegate after delegate was pledged or verbally committed to Sen. Ted Cruz. Trump didn't just lose, he lost while demonstrating an organizational incompetence that was stunning, particularly coming from the guy who still leads the Republican presidential field by a wide margin. On Friday, we outlined the problems Trump's campaign had seen the night before, but similar problems cropped up over the weekend. He left Colorado without a single pledged delegate.
Both Trump and his newly assigned delegate wrangler subsequently whined about the process, each taking a different tack. The wrangler, Paul Manafort, appeared on "Meet the Press," where he was asked about having been shut out in Colorado.
He started by complaining about Cruz.
"You go to these county conventions, and you see the tactics, Gestapo tactics, the scorched-earth tactics," Manafort said, prompting surprise from host Chuck Todd.
"Well, you look at, we're going to be filing several protests because reality is, you know, they are not playing by the rules," Manafort replied. But what happened in Colorado was a "side game." "The only game I'm focusing on right now is getting delegates," Manafort said. "And the games that have happened, even this past weekend, you know, are not important to the long-term game of how do we get to 1,237."
So, getting delegates in Colorado is a side game to the real game of getting delegates? Interesting. It also seems more fair, based on the evidence at hand, to assume that Cruz did play by the rules, which was why he won so many more delegates. It was Trump's campaign that wasn't prepared for the process.
Trump himself issued two 140-character press releases on the subject.
The answer to Trump's first question is that the Colorado Republican Party opted to eliminate its presidential preference vote, apparently in response to the party mandating that delegates be bound to a candidate. But that the party opted for its delegate election system doesn't mean the system was sprung on the candidates at the last minute. Cruz's campaign certainly knew how to win the contest as formulated. Trump simply and obviously got out-organized.
But then, on Monday morning, Trump called in to "Fox and Friends," where he was presented with another utterly baffling sign that his team hasn't yet found its sea legs: His children Ivanka and Eric are not registered to vote in New York state, so he won't have their votes in the state's primary next week.
"They had a long time to register, and they were unaware of the rules and they didn't register in time," Trump said. "So they feel very, very guilty. They feel very guilty. But it's fine, I mean, I understand that. I think they have to register a year in advance, and they didn't."
A year in advance? The state Board of Elections has a slightly smaller window: The new voter registration would have needed to have been filed by March 25. Of 2016. Those two votes probably wouldn't have mattered much, but it's impossible not to see how their inability to register mirrors the campaign's inability to figure out the process elsewhere.
It's not clear whether the two weren't registered or whether they needed to change their party registration to vote in the closed primary. If it's the latter, the deadline was earlier. They'd have needed to change their registrations by Oct. 8 of 2015. But they had an expert who could have guided them through it: Donald Trump.
Trump's success has been a function of voters rewarding his unorthodox candidacy with an unexpected wave of votes. Were the process of earning a party nomination simply a function of who gets the most votes, Trump would win easily. But party nominations aren't normal elections. They're contests put on by the party itself to serve its own internal functions — meaning that it's messy and weird and at times undemocratic.
That contest, Trump has been unable to figure out. He's been unable to figure out how to do much beyond ask voters to pledge to support him.
Even if those voters share his DNA.
Update: The campaign sent a statement signed by Ivanka and Eric Trump.
New York is one of the most onerous states in terms of timeframe to change party affiliation for a closed primary, and the deadline unfortunately passed in October of 2015. Our experience in New York, and inability to change our party affiliation so that we could vote for our father in the NY primary, was the reason that we proactively began making videos last year to educate voters on a state-by-state basis on what is required in order for them to vote in their own state primaries. Each state differs greatly in terms of the rules and requirements--most allowing you to change your status on or close to the date of voting, if even required. Eric and I are fully supportive of our father and look forward to casting our vote for him in November.