Trump, Clinton win Georgia: what does it mean?

From the AJC:

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton scored complete victories in Georgia in Tuesday’s primary, trouncing their opponents as they edged closer to their parties’ nominations.


Clinton surely trounced Sanders last night. She took 71 percent of the statewide vote and, according to the exit polls, had resounding margins among white women, black women, and black men. It looks like Sanders won one county in Georgia. The Democratic primary in Echols County brought 68 voters to the polls; 36 of them voted for Sanders.

Since the Democrats are assigning delegates proportionally based on the popular vote, Clinton probably has an insurmountable delegate lead in the race for the nomination after similarly large wins in other states yesterday.

But did Trump “trounce” the competition in Georgia and in other states? You’ll find such hyperbolic statements in many media outlets this morning, but it’s worth looking more closely at the numbers.

Trump took 39 percent of the vote in Georgia yesterday, easily outdistancing Rubio (25 percent), Cruz (24 percent), and Carson and Kasich (each with about 6 percent). It looks like Trump won every county but Cobb, Fulton, DeKalb, and Clarke. That’s a convincing win in a five candidate race, but Trump still didn’t reach 40 percent.

In fact, according to FiveThirtyEight, Trump has only about 34 percent of the cumulative popular vote from the states that have voted so far. As I noted in a post last week, if the Republicans had a truly proportional system of delegate allocation, Trump would have little to no chance of having a majority of delegates before the convention in Cleveland.

But because the delegate allocation rules favor the frontrunner, Trump is still in a decent position to get to the halfway mark even if he continues to get less than 40 percent of the popular vote. (By the way, the only states on Super Tuesday where Trump broke the 40 percent mark were Massachusetts and Alabama, neither of which will be pivotal in the general election.)

So what does this mean for the allocation of Georgia’s 76 Republican delegates? I’m still hunting for final numbers and estimates of district delegates, but the AP currently has Trump with 40 delegates, Cruz with 18, Rubio with 14, and 4 not assigned yet. In other words, Trump got well under half the statewide vote, but he’s going to win well over half the delegates.

But Trump didn’t sweep the map yesterday as some of us expected (or feared). The Upshot at the NYT is currently predicting that the 595 Republican delegates on Super Tuesday will fall something like 240 for Trump, 220 for Cruz, 110 for Rubio, 20 for Kasich, and 3 for Carson.

In other words, Trump took about 40 percent of the delegates available in those 11 states. He could conceivably still end up with a majority of the delegates going into Cleveland, but that prospect looks a lot more difficult today than it did 24 hours ago. Conservative columnist Ross Douthat this morning says “the Super Tuesday results did nothing, nothing, to clarify who exactly might win.”

If Trump manages to win Ohio and Florida in two weeks — both are winner-take-all states — he might once again emerge as the inevitable nominee. But if he loses either or both of those, the odds of a brokered convention increase dramatically.


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