Image: Getty/The Washington Post / Contributor

Very few people in the United States understand how the byzantine delegate party system works, and according to Politico, New Hampshire Republicans are hoping to use this fact to their advantage to freeze out Donald Trump.

Despite winning the state, New Hampshire’s GOP honchos are planning to give away the delegates that would’ve normally been allotted to Trump—handing them straight to his rivals:

The coveted convention slots would go entirely to delegates assigned to Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Ted Cruz, even though Trump won 35 percent of the vote, more than double his closest competitor.

Among the Trump delegates who would be denied potential committees assignments are campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who cut his teeth as a New Hampshire operative, and New Hampshire co-chairman Stephen Stepanek.

The hope here is to prevent Trump’s nomination come convention-time, exploiting the fact that the delegate system is extremely complex and doesn’t even really have much of a connection to the popular vote. The Trump camp is of course saying this amounts to stealing the election:

A Trump campaign official with knowledge of the situation called it “shameful” and said the state party was “playing games.” The person accused party leaders of cutting a deal in a “smoke-filled back room” that epitomized the “rigged” system that Trump has railed against on the stump.

On the other hand, it’s the GOP’s system with which to play games, and surely they see delegate trickery as one of the few viable ways to avoid the thermonuclear self-destruction of the entire party, nationwide.