March 15 GOP Primaries – To Trump Or Not To Trump?

Republicans that are wary of Donald Trump should be very wary of the Ides of March.  Today voters in Florida, North Carolina, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, and the Northern Marianas Islands will go to the polls.  All but North Carolina are winner take all contests on the GOP side.

Depending on how Donald Trump performs today relative to his current Real Clear Politics poll averages in each state, he could either become an almost prohibitive favorite.  If the votes post Chicago protest move anti-Trump, tonight’s contest could almost certainly guarantee a contested GOP Convention in July.  Anything in between leaves us in deep murky territory.

We’re going to look at all three scenarios, and then take a look at the remaining contests and related delegate prizes on the way to the convention.  Ready?  Let’s dive in.

Trump’s Best Case Scenario:

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 12.33.41 PM

Donald Trump begins today having already won the 9 delegates from the Northern Marianas Islands territory.   When every delegate counts, he starts the day with a big prize.  What if he runs the table (as RCP suggests is possible – though Ohio leans Kasich) Donald Trump will end the night with over 800 delegates – depending on the split in NC with Cruz.  This would leave Trump with roughly 437 delegates needed to win the nomination.  There are 937 delegates that remain to be awarded after today, so Trump would only need to win about 46% of the remaining delegates.

What if Trump can’t close the deal:

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 12.34.22 PMDonald Trump has underperformed polls in many states thus far.  What if voters were turned off by the mess in Chicago this weekend, Rubio’s Florida ground game, personal appearances, and home field advantage have him win Florida.  What if Cruz over performs in a few of the closed contest states where he’s barely trailing Trump.  For at least a few more hours the #NeverTrump folks can look at math that shows a contested convention is entirely possible.

If Rubio pulls a minor miracle in Florida, Cruz splits North Carolina with Trump and wins Illinois and Missouri outright, and Kasich holds his home state of Ohio, then Cruz actually ends today with more Delegates than Trump.  This would leave either Trump or Cruz needing about 3/4 of all remaining delegates in order to reach 1,237.  Not likely.  Expect Cleveland to rock in this scenario.

My “likely” scenario:

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 12.34.03 PMI’m not hearing the confidence I was a week ago from my Rubio folks in Florida that he will close the gap.  Neither Florida’s current Governor Rick Scott nor former Governor Jeb Bush endorsed in this race.  Rubio is trying to win it without a lot of the state’s GOP apparatus.  There’s a lot to remember there if Trump wins this nomination.  Ohio, however, is looking better for Kasich.  Rubio has thrown his support that way and it may be enough.  We’ll assign Ohio to its Governor.  I’m going to give Trump an advantage in NC, give Cruz Missouri, and I think Trump pulls out Illinois.  In this scenario, Trump would be about 560 delegates away from the nomination.  That’s 60% of the remaining delegates.

So let’s assume that after today, regardless of the outcomes, it’s Trump vs Cruz.  Can Trump win the head to head with Cruz?  Maybe.  Ted Cruz has made his entire career fighting the “establishment”.  Thus, he has few GOP friends that control the gears of the GOP machine, and few owe him any favors.  There are also many voters that identify with the GOP that are not as conservative as Cruz and his followers believe all GOPers should be.  They may be willing to vote for Trump instead of Cruz.  Add in those already voting for Trump because they see Cruz as part of the same establishment system, and we’ve got a race.

Some big states remaining.

Arizona, Utah, and American Samoa are next up on March 22.  Trump has Sheriff Joe & Governor Jan Brewer in Arizona, and it’s winner take all.  Give him the edge for 58 delegates.  Utah is proportional.  Rubio says he’s going there and Romney hates Trump.  Still, is 1/3 reasonable for Trump?  Give him 15 of the 40 delegates.  American Samoa is a convention.  We’ll assume Cruz takes that.

Skipping ahead to NY, their primary is proportional, but how many people with “NY values” are going to vote for Cruz?  Give Trump at least 70 of their 95 delegates.  I’ll throw in 35 of 47 from the following week in Connecticut and Rhode Island for the same reason. Pennsylvania is a big prize on April 26 with 71 delegates, but Maryland (38) and Deleware (16) are winner take all contests.  Cruz should be able to compete in Penn, but doubtful in MD and DE.  Let’s say Trump runs that table.

At the end of April, Donald Trump could have 303 more delegates.  That would put him only 134 from the nomination.  Want to give Pennsylvania to Cruz (their GOP did elect Rick Santorum and Pat Toomey after all), Trump is still 205 to 328 delegates away (using Trump runs the table or the “likely” scenario).

The contests in May aren’t likely to clear things up much.  Nebraska is more socially conservative and that may favor Cruz in a head to head, or maybe not.  But it’s the only winner take all state in May with 36 delegates.  West Virginia has direct election of 34 delegates.  I’ll let the true wonks/nerds figure out how that plays here. (I’ll assume advantage Cruz).  Oregon and Washington are proportional states so we’ll just split them even and give Trump and Cruz 36 delegates each.  Trump could easily go into June needing less than 100 delegates from remaining contests to clinch the nomination.  In Cruz’s most rosy scenario Trump is less than 300 delegates from clinching going into June.

The remaining contests are on June 7th and 303 delegates at stake.  California is the big prize, with 172 winner take all delegates. New Jersey, South Dakota, Montanna, and New Mexico also vote. For fun, remember that the Democratic coronation primary will likely be long over by then. What will Democrats do in open contests in Montanna and New Jersey with open primaries? Will California Republicans back Ted Cruz’s style of conservatism? (And what is a California Republican anyway?).

Remaining, head to head.jpgLet’s make this simple.

Here are the states Donald Trump needs to win starting today in order to reach 1,237 delegates, eliminating proportional states where we assume in a toss up he splits delegates:

Florida
Illinois
Arizona
Maryland
Deleware
Pennsylvania
California
New Jersey

Or, Let’s put it this way,

Of remaining states, Trump can lose winner take all contests in the following and still reach 1,237:

Ohio
Missouri
Wisconsin
Indiana
Nebraska
Montana
South Dakota

In summary, tonight would likely only tell us if a contested convention is necessary, in the Trump’s worst case scenario of losing all remaining contests today. The math does get a lot easier for Trump should he pull out wins in Ohio and/or Missouri today. It gets a lot harder if he loses in Illinois and almost prohibitive if he also loses in Florida.  But assuming a decent showing today, Trump has major contests ahead in Pennsylvania and California to secure 1,237 delegates.  Advantage Trump.

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Bart
Bart

Thanks Charlie, best analysis I have seen of the GOP race. When Trump wins big in Florida tonight, Rubio has nothing left to offer voters other than ‘my hands are not as small as Trump’s’. He can try to go forward, but the lack of momentum will cause voters to drop him from consideration. He should have dropped out after the first Super Tuesday. Stick around after getting stomped in the home state and he does serious damage to what little credibility he has at this point. Kasich announced today that he is preparing to attack Trump. That means all… Read more »

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

“…a viable chance to beat the dem nominee in November”

Ha. Thanks for the laugh 3J. I needed it.

Bart
Bart

ACP, you mean the part about ‘dem nominee’? You do have a hilarious pair there.

Teri
Teri

Dude, leave Don Rickles out of this.

Benevolus
Benevolus

I have been trying to imagine a reversed scenario: If there was someone despicable on the Dem side, would I go R to defeat them? I can’t really think of a despicable Dem, but then Trump isn’t really a Repub either. So let’s say that the guy who raised those drug prices 1000% decided to run as a Dem, Martin Shkreli. He would be so obviously doing it for reasons other than actually trying to run the country that I couldn’t vote for him. Any mainstream Repub would likely get my vote just to try to avoid disaster. But what… Read more »

xdog
xdog

I expect the Chicago ruckus to help Trump in Illinois, not hinder him. Probably help in Missouri too.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

Agreed. Trump is savvy enough to know that you can drive Republican turnout by creating a false sense of victimization.

John Konop
John Konop

Andrew, I think you should worry about your own candidate. The left even calls Hillary a racist.Bernie has been way to nice not to point out her issues.Like or hate Trump he will not pull any punches. The last punch Trump threw at Hillary, brought Bernie back into the race. ……..Salon: “Sorry, Hillary, but we’re done: Keep repeating racist myths and praising Kissinger …” ….In race-baiting and red-baiting: A few weeks ago she repeated the racist myth that “radical” Northerners imposed corrupt governments on the defeated South after the Civil War, and thus paved the way for Jim Crow and… Read more »

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

I voted for Sanders, I don’t know where you developed this fiction in your head that Hill Dawg is my candidate. Simply positing that Hillary Clinton is not the Rush Limbaugh fever dream you believe her to be should not be confused with support.

I refuse to engage in any further discussion with you until you prove capable of accepting fact.

John Konop
John Konop

I apologize, if I misunderstood your defense of Hillary demonstrating repeated unethical behavior as being a supporter.

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

LOL. Never change, John.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Trump is a demagogue, and Cruz is an extremist that has proven he can’t govern, but either is preferable to anyone the Dems put up.

Years of acquiescence of the right wing’s concept of fair and balanced eventually distorts perspective.

You know, like Biden in June 1992 arguing Bush should compromise with the Senate on a hypothetical Supreme Court appointment, or not make an appointment, being the same as Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans unanimously (and the rest of the Republican Senate except for a couple) stating in February 2016 they won’t consider any actual nominee.

Jack Fitz
Jack Fitz

I’m glad someone else calls her Hill Dawg. She’s such an uninspiring candidate. I mean she’s not an insane megalomaniac, but she does have that snuke we need to worry about.

gcp
gcp

Have not seen any California polls but I see it as a possible win for Cruz given the large number of traditional Republicans in Southern California particularly Orange County. Of course such a scenario assumes we get to California without Trumpet winning 1237 delegates.

davidmac
davidmac

Some corrections — The only true Winner-Take-All states remaning are OH, FL, AZ, DE, NE, MT, NJ, and SD. Many states are Winner-Take-All hybrid – that is, each Congressional District is WTA for its 3 delegates, and the state is for a different pot of N. So this makes the calculus a bit more challenging because of regional affiliations per CD – while a rural CD may favor Cruz, an urban CD may favor Trump (or vice versa!) These hybrids are: (# of district delegates, # of statewide delegates) IL (54, 15), MO (40, 12), WI (24, 18), MD (24,… Read more »

billdawers
billdawers

FWIW, I think your likely scenario is still too optimistic for Trump. (Not that you’re optimistic for Trump.) Even if Trump wins solidly in Missouri and Illinois, I’ll be surprised if he takes all the delegates, and I think it’s possible that Rubio/Kasich/Carson will pick up a few of those delegates in North Carolina. I agree that Trump is poised to win Florida and that Kasich will likely take Ohio. I think this will force Rubio out of the race, and then we’ll have a three-person race with clear lines between the candidates: Trump, Cruz, and Kasich. I think Kasich… Read more »

Sally Forth
Sally Forth

One thing we and the media haven’t been factoring in on Trump was discussed on CNN this evening: recent polling shows Trump has a 20% lead over his nearest opponent among college-educated voters. Seems the people portraying his supporters as knuckle-dragging rubes are insultingly off-base. He’s not my choice of the pack, but he obviously has across the board support. Interesting.

Benevolus
Benevolus

What are all those people going to do when they find out he can’t build The Wall for free?

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

That or the “college for everyone” movement has led to a generation of mouth breathers getting college degrees from crap universities…

trackback
The GOP faces its Titanic Tuesday | Kyle Wingfield

[…] Harper at GeorgiaPol.com (and formerly of Peach Pundit) has a good breakdown of the mathematical possibilities that I won’t repeat here. Suffice it to say, a Trump sweep […]

Will Durant
Will Durant

So at the inaugural ball first dance will the new Madame President lead or the First Daddy?

Benevolus
Benevolus

If she wears a dress, Bill will lead. If she wears pants, all bets are off.

Bart
Bart

Classy, very well delivered campaign suspension speech by Marco. Dude has a future if he stays on message.

Noway2016
Noway2016

Perhaps. Am I correct in believing he’s not running for reelection as senator? If so he’s got no platform any longer. He better build some bridges back and eventually run for governor. If not, like Jeb, he’s done for good.

Benevolus
Benevolus

When he talked about his mother being able to vote for him I though he was going to stay in… for her! But then he didn’t.

CoastalCat
CoastalCat

Buh bye Rubio. Apparently there is a longgggg list of people that you have stepped on and stepped over on your way to…um nothing now. Have fun in DC doing your job. At least that will be a new experience for you.

John Konop
John Konop

Ted Cruz gives a victory speech and wins nothing? The new normal second is first……