Legislation, Presidential & Congressional Politics/Another Presidential Election Question


Hi Michael,

I am sure someone with your experience has answered millions of questions about presidential elections. I appreciate you taking the time to help answer questions and helping to keep the public informed.

I did not think about this the other day when I ask you a question. I thought about this last night while debating with a friend over the current candidates.

If one candidate receives the most delegates (say Trump) but the republican party would prefer a different candidate (say Kasich), is it possible for Kasich to receive the nomination over Trump?

Why do certain states have super-delegates? What is the purpose of this if we have elections?

I have only seen some edited bits of Trump rallies online. The clips I have seen looks like Trump is inciting violence through hate speech. I thought this was illegal. How is he able to do this and no one bring any charges against him?

Again thank you for taking the time to explain and answer my questions. I greatly appreciate this.

Sorry about my mistake in the earlier question. I was writing and talking at the same time and did not fully proof my message before sending.


Suzie aka KyBunnies

Hi Suzie,

I'm pleased to help with information where I can.

If a candidate receives more than 50% of the pledged delegates, there really is no way to prevent that candidate from getting the nomination.  Pledged delegates are required to vote for the candidate to whom they are pledged for at least the first ballot.  If a candidate gets over 50% on the first ballot, that is the end of it.  He is the nominee.

If there is one candidate with the most votes, but not 50%, then other factors come into play.  A candidate must get over 50% of the votes at the convention in order to be the nominee.  Let's say Trump won 45% of the delegates, Cruz had 30%, Rubio had 15% and Kasich had 10%.  No candidate would win on the first ballot, so delegates would begin moving to other candidates.  Different states have different rules about how exactly they can change, but if all the anti-Trump delegates were unwilling to switch to Trump, they could eventually pick someone else who would get the backing of 55% of the delegates and win the nomination.

There are also some primaries that are choosing "uncommitted" delegates.  These delegates can support whomever they like at the convention, even on the first ballot.  There usually is not a large number of uncommitted, but in a close situation, they can become important.

As far as superdelegates, Republicans and Democrats handle these very differently.  For the Democrats, superdelegates are elected officials (such as Senators or Governors) or top State Party officials (Party Chairman and Committee members).  Superdelegates are about 20% of all delegates and can vote for whomever they like.  Some of them pledge support to one candidate early in the process, but can change their mind at any time.  In 2008, many superdelegates who backed Clinton early changed to Obama later when the popularity shifted in his direction.  The idea though, is that superdelegates can have an impact if the voters are relatively divided on who the candidate should be.  That is the theory, but sueprdelegates have never overturned the candidate supported by the most pledged delegates.

The Republicans use super delegates much differently.  Republicans have only three superdelegates from each State.  This is the State party chair and two committee members.  They make up only about 7% of all delegates.  Further, they are not very super.  Republican superdelegates are usually required to vote for the candidate who won their State primary or caucus.  They do not have the freedom to vote for whomever they want on the the first ballot.  They are essentially just like any other pledged delegate.

As to your question about Trump inciting violence and using hate speech.  Hate speech is protected under the First Amendment and is perfectly legal.  Inciting violence is against the law, but is very narrowly applied in order to avoid running afoul of First Amendment problems.  Incitement requires that the words be intentional and likely to cause imminent violence.  If a candidate says protesters in general should be beaten, that would not necessarily be incitement because any resulting attack was not immediate.  That would be advocacy of violence (which is protected speech) and not incitement (which is not protected).  If, however, a candidate pointed to a particular protester and told his followers to attack him right then, that would be incitement.  Trump has admittedly come close to the line.  But arresting a candidate on such charges would raise a great many political issues as his supporters would claim he is being unfairly treated.  An arrest might even lead to greater violence.  Therefore, law enforcement would normally use its discretion not to arrest a candidate in all but the most clear and blatant situation which did lead to immediate lawless action.  Trump probably has not crossed the line clearly enough to make a charge stick in court.  He may, however, end up facing some civil suit from people who have been harmed at his rallies, particularly those harmed directly by some of his own campaign staff.

- Mike  

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Michael Troy


I can answer just about any question about U.S. Political history, Constitutional law, the legislative process, elections, etc. I enjoy Presidential and Congressional historical trivia, but can answer more substantive questions too.


Former Staff member for a Congressman and Senator. I also worked on about 10 Congressional and Presidential campaigns (only one that won). For a short time, I worked in the legal department of the Federal Election Commission.    I have a B.A. in Political Science.

Former LBJ Fellow (paid fellowship for Congressional Staff).
Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science Honorary Society).

Washington Post
Washington Times

J.D. University of Michigan
B.A. George Washington University (Poli. Sci. major).

Awards and Honors
LBJ Fellow
Truman Scholar

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