When bigotry backfires

According to David Wasserman at FiveThirtyEight, Donald Trump is at risk of losing delegates because some of his supporters wouldn’t vote for Trump-committed delegates with foreign-sounding names.

If Donald Trump somehow falls three delegates short of reaching the magic 1,237 delegates needed for the Republican nomination, he may be haunted by an obscure outcome from the primary voting in Illinois on Tuesday. There’s clear evidence that Trump supporters in Illinois gave fewer votes to Trump-pledged delegate candidates who have minority or foreign-sounding names like “Sadiq,” “Fakroddin” and “Uribe,” potentially costing him three of the state’s 69 delegates.

Wasserman describes the rule that may cost Trump delegates:

[In Illinois] the statewide primary winner earns 15 delegates, but the state’s other 54 delegates are elected directly on the ballot, with three at stake in each of the state’s 18 congressional districts. Each campaign files slates of relatively unknown supporters to run for delegate slots, and each would-be delegate’s presidential preference is listed beside his or her name.

As a result, the top presidential candidate in each congressional district usually claims all three of the district’s delegates.

However, yesterday pro-Trump voters in several congressional districts split their delegates, electing ones with Anglo names, but rejecting some whose names seem foreign:

[A]nalysis of the dozen highest vote differentials within district-level Trump slates reveals a startling pattern: In all 12 cases, the highest vote-getting candidate had a common, Anglo-sounding name. But a majority of the trailing candidates had first or last names most commonly associated with Asian, Hispanic or African-American heritages.

Of the 54 Trump delegate candidates in the state, two of the three worst-trailing candidates were the only two Trump candidates with Middle Eastern-sounding names.


In the western Chicago suburbs, a Trump delegate candidate named Nabi Fakroddin received 14 percent fewer votes than a member of the same Trump slate named Paul Minch. In southern Illinois, a would-be Trump delegate named Raja Sadiq received an eye-popping 25 percent fewer votes than a slate-mate named Doug Hartmann. And in a rural western Illinois district, a losing Trump delegate named Jim Uribe received 11 percent fewer votes than one named Rich Nordstrom. In all three cases, the disparity appeared to cost Trump a delegate.

That’s not all:

In an African-American majority district on Chicago’s South Side, a Trump delegate named Taneequa Tolbert received 11 percent fewer votes than a slate-mate named James Devors. And in a neighboring Chicago district, a Trump delegate named Antonio Alonso received 8 percent fewer votes than a slate-mate named Michael Burke. In these two instances, Trump still swept all three district-level delegates because no other candidate’s delegates came close.

In sum:

Of the seven Trump delegate candidates with minority or foreign-sounding names, all seven were among the dozen worst-trailing Trump candidates in the state: Sadiq, Fakroddin, Tolbert, Alonso, Uribe, Sandra Yeh and Rolando Arellano. The 47 Trump delegate candidates with Anglo-sounding names tended to garner far more votes.

What about the other candidates? Did they experience significant disparities in the popularity of their delegates?

The answer is yes in the cases of Ted Cruz and John Kasich, but the disparities were not linked to the ethnicity implied by the delegates’ names:

In some districts, there were significant vote differences between members of Ted Cruz’s and John Kasich’s slates that didn’t appear to have anything to do with racial or ethnic backgrounds. But Trump’s Illinois disparities were unique to his candidacy, and they lend credibility to the theory that racial resentment is commonplace among his supporters.

To me, the resentment seems to be “ethnic” rather than racial. Either way, it’s a sad phenomenon, if Wasserman’s report is accurate.

Let’s hope that Corey Lewandowski doesn’t get his hands on the folks who picked Sadiq, Fakroddin, and Uribe to be Trump-committed delegates.