Like Us on Facebook LPA RSS Feed Tweet with Us on Twitter
Eye On Candidates
March 10, 2016

Trump Closing In on GOP Nomination?

The New York Times has an article this morning suggesting businessman Donald Trump is on track to win enough delegates to become the Republican nominee in 2016:

Republican Delegate Math Favors Donald Trump After Latest Wins

Donald J. Trump drew closer to grasping the Republican presidential nomination with his victories in three states Tuesday night, and the chances of party leaders’ wresting it from his hands at a contested convention were a bit more remote on Wednesday.

By winning Michigan, Mississippi and Hawaii, Mr. Trump captured the greatest share of the 150 delegates at stake Tuesday, and his mathematical path to a majority of 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination is increasingly brighter than his rivals. He needs about 54 percent of outstanding delegates; his closest rival, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, needs 62 percent.

But Mr. Trump gained something even more valuable than delegates on Tuesday: momentum as the race heads into a watershed moment, March 15, when the first states that award delegates winner-take-all hold their primaries. They include Senator Marco Rubio’s home state, Florida, and Gov. John Kasich’s, Ohio. Both men have their backs to the wall, fighting for their political lives.

The bad news for Kasich and Rubio, according to the article, is that it’s nearly mathematically impossible for either of them to obtain a majority of the delegates:

But even if Mr. Kasich wins Ohio and its 66 delegates, along with some of the others at stake on the same day in Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina, his chances of gaining a majority of 1,237 is close to a mathematical impossibility. Only 1,000 delegates will remain after March 15….

Similarly, Mr. Rubio is facing a daunting mathematical roadblock. In failing to reach 15 percent of the votes in Michigan and Mississippi, and 20 percent in Idaho, he was shut out of delegates entirely in the three states holding primaries on Tuesday. He may have picked up only as few as two in Hawaii.

But over at The Federalist is a piece that casts some doubt on the idea that Trump is prepared to put the nomination away next week, with a look at Florida and how a Trump win there might not be as decisive as many seem to think:

Florida’s important. But it’s not that important, especially not in the 2016 Republican primary. Yes, it’s winner-take-all. Yes, it controls 99 delegates. But it’s not that important. To understand why, we just need to look at the current delegate picture in the primary.

There are a total of 2,472 delegates at stake. The winner must win 1,237 of them. As of today, Donald Trump is not even close to that. He’s not even close to half that amount. Trump has won 44 percent of delegates pledged so far, while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has won 34 percent, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has won 15 percent, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich has won 5 percent….

Donald Trump must win 54 percent of all outstanding delegates to clinch the nomination. If he wins Florida, even if he wins by just one vote, he’ll win each of the state’s 99 delegates to the Republican convention. And if that happens, what percentage of delegates will he still need to win? He’ll need 51 percent. Even if he wins Florida going away, he still has to win a majority of outstanding delegates, a feat he’s yet to accomplish over any sustained period of time (since Super Tuesday, for example, he’s won only 40 percent to Cruz’s 39 percent).

If Trump wins Ohio and Florida (165 delegates), he’ll still need to win 48 percent of the remaining delegates, and to date he’s won only 44 percent of them. Winning Florida helps Trump, yes, but not all that much, and not nearly as much as winning four of the other March 15 states would help him. This fact is why the Florida focus is so short-sighted.

The four non-Florida states that will vote on March 15 will award 259 delegates total compared to Florida’s 99 delegates. Of those four, three are not winner-take-all: Illinois (69 delegates, allocated by congressional district and statewide vote), Missouri (52 delegates, allocated by congressional district and statewide vote), and North Carolina (72 delegates, proportional statewide vote). Preventing Trump from racking up delegate margins in those states is far more important than making a futile last stand against him in Florida, a state where he is currently leading the home state senator by an average of 16 percentage points, a margin which has remained remarkably static over the last three weeks.

If either Kasich or Rubio were to drop out following next week’s contest, of course, it potentially becomes easier for Trump to get the majority of delegates that would still be available if it comes down to just Trump and Cruz. But it’s also possible that in a one-on-one contest, Cruz starts to rack up wins and overtakes Trump and possibly even collects enough delegates to win the nomination outright. While either scenario is plausible, the only certainty right now is that Trump is the candidate best positioned to obtain a majority of delegates.