Ted Cruz’s overwhelming victory in Wisconsin on Tuesday makes it all but impossible for GOP frontrunner Donald Trump to win the 1,237 delegates he needs to secure the nomination ahead of the RNC convention in Cleveland.
Trump currently leads the GOP field with 743 delegates. He would need to win 58.9 percent of the remaining pledged delegates to obtain the simple majority necessary.
A number of the states remaining award delegates proportionally. The bulk of delegates in one critical upcoming state, Pennsylvania, aren’t officially bound to any candidate. The fight for California’s massive 172 delegates will be fought largely in each of the state’s 54 Congressional Districts.
As a result, Breitbart News estimates that Donald Trump will end the primary portion of the nomination fight with 1164 delegates, 74 short of the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the nomination on the first ballot. This estimate assumes Trump’s performance in upcoming contests is consistent with the results prior to Wisconsin.
In other words, it is a static estimate, assuming no great change in the trajectory, tone, or focus of the campaigns. It isn’t based on any future missteps, like those experienced by the Trump campaign ahead of the Wisconsin primary. Our assumption is, in many respects, the most optimistic for the Trump campaign. Because of this, it underscores the steep challenge Donald Trump faces heading into the 4th Quarter of the primary season.
The next primary is in Donald Trump’s home state of New York. The state’s 95 delegates are awarded proportionally at both the congressional district level and statewide, unless a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote. Trump is currently backed by 53 percent of New York Republicans in the RealClearPolitics average of polls.
If Trump won more than 50 percent of the vote statewide and more than 50 percent in each of the state’s 27 congressional districts, he would win all 95 of the state’s delegates. We do not believe Trump will be able to sweep all of the contests in New York. While his overall polling average is right at the threshold for sweeping the statewide delegates, there isn’t enough support to ensure a sweep of all the state’s congressional districts. Trump’s overall level of support in New York has come down in recent weeks.
Expected Trump delegate gain: +75
One week after New York, five states on the East Coast — Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Pennsylvania — vote in primaries, awarding a total of 172 delegates. The smallest state, Delaware, with 16 delegates, is winner-take-all. The largest prize, Pennsylvania, awards 17 of its 71 delegates to the winner of the statewide vote. The other 54 delegates are directly elected in congressional districts and not bound to support any particular candidate. All of the contests, except Rhode Island, are closed primaries, meaning only registered Republicans can participate.
We assume Donald Trump will win all of these contests, as he has generally performed very well in this region. The voters here are also more moderate than other states, blunting the appeal of the Cruz campaign. Kasich ought to perform well in this area, at least enough to win some delegates.
In Pennsylvania, 54 delegates are directly elected in the commonwealth’s 18 congressional districts. The delegates run without any candidate affiliation listed on the ballot. This puts an enormous premium on campaign organization and infrastructure, as voters have to know which delegate is supporting a particular candidate. In every contest so far, Cruz has had a better campaign organization than either Trump or Kasich.
Expected Trump delegate gain: +95
Indiana is the only state holding a primary on this date. It has 57 delegates, awarding 30 to the winner of the statewide vote and three to the winner of each of the state’s nine congressional districts. The state is an emerging battleground, voting for Barack Obama in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. It is a microcosm of the agricultural midwest — the industrial rust belt and suburban office parks.
We expect Ted Cruz to win the state after his performance in Wisconsin. We also expect Trump and Kasich to pick up delegates in specific congressional districts.
Expected Trump delegate gain: +6
Nebraska and West Virginia vote on May 10th, likely allowing Cruz and Trump to each pick up a state. Nebraska, with 36 delegates, is the biggest single prize, as it is winner-take-all. It is a closed primary, meaning only Republicans can vote. We expect Cruz to win, as he has performed very well in the Plains region.
West Virginia is an open primary, meaning that Democrats and Independents can vote in the Republican contest. The state has 34 total delegates, awarding 25 to the statewide winner and three delegates in each of the state’s three congressional districts. The district delegates are elected directly, meaning the top three delegate vote-getters are elected, regardless of how their candidate performs. We expect Cruz to pick up a few delegates at the district level but Trump to win statewide. Its voters match the demographics where Trump has performed well this primary.
Expected Trump delegate gain: +20
Oregon votes and awards 28 delegates. The primary is only open to Republican voters and the state’s delegates are awarded proportionally, based on the statewide vote. Polling has been limited in Oregon and primary voting there can often be more conservative than the overall state’s political profile. We expect all candidates to pick up delegates here.
Expected Trump delegate gain: +10
Washingon closes out the Northwest with a closed primary, awarding its 44 delegates proportionally. The state is similar to Oregon and we expect each candidate to win some delegates.
Expected Trump delegate gain: +20
The final day of primary voting and one of the richer prizes, with 303 delegates at stake across the country. The states voting, California, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, and New Jersey cover almost every region of the country. Three of these, California, New Mexico, and South Dakota are closed primaries. New Jersey, Montana, and South Dakota are winner-take-all, while the others are proportional.
Based on the assumptions above, Donald Trump will have to win 263 of the day’s delegates, 87 percent, to secure the 1,237 delegates necessary to seal the nomination before the RNC convention. That is a very tall order, based on how delegates are awarded on this day.
We expect Donald Trump to win New Jersey and its 51 delegates ,while Ted Cruz will capture Montana’s 27 delegates. South Dakota is a toss-up currently, because there is little polling or past election info to accurately gauge the state. Our assumption is awarding it to Trump here, but its 29 delegates could easily swing to Cruz.
The main battleground on June 7th will be California, with a rich 172 delegates. The winner of the statewide vote, however, only receives 10 delegates. The remaining delegates go to the winner of each of the state’s 53 congressional district. The candidate receiving the most votes in each district wins three delegates.
Current polling shows Trump with an eight point lead, but the race has narrowed considerably in the past several weeks. We expect the race to narrow even more as the realization that the GOP nomination hangs in the balance becomes evident. Only registered Republicans can vote in the primary, but we still expect the state will shatter voter turnout records.
At this stage of the campaign, we are tapping Trump to win the bulk of the delegates in California. We estimate he will capture 94 of the state’s 172 delegates. The race, however, will be fought out in each congressional district, putting a big premium on campaign organization and infrastructure.
Expected Trump delegate gain: +192
Allowing some variance, Trump will close out the primary phase of the nomination contest 50-100 delegates short of the 1,237 minimum he needs to secure the nomination on the first ballot. Unless there is a dramatic change in the trajectory of the race, or outside events, it is very hard to envision a scenario where Trump wins 1,237 delegates before the convention. It is possible, too, that he falls much shorter of that goal. This analysis assumes that Cruz’s surge in Wisconsin was a blip and won’t be repeated.
Even with that caveat, it shows the high hurdle facing Trump. This is to say nothing about possible convention rules changes, delegates held by other candidates, or the actions of unbound or RNC delegates. We will look at those scenarios in the future.
This analysis simply looks at the pledged delegates to be awarded over the next two months. It is almost impossible for Trump to secure the nomination outright before the RNC convention.
One final caution. As mentioned early, this is a rather static analysis of the upcoming primaries, which is somewhat favorable to Trump, as he is the current frontrunner. All campaigns, though, have their own rhythm. Except for the final day of voting on June 7th, we are entering a period where the contests are spread out and concentrated on individual states and regions.
The early phases of the primaries were a rapid-fire succession of contests, with voting occuring every few days. With at least a week between these upcoming contests, voters have more time to absorb results in other states and actions and statements by the campaigns. The individual candidates also have more time to make their pitches to specific states and voters than earlier in the process.
In the end, though, the Republican nomination will be decided on the convention floor in Cleveland in July. Whether it is decided in two ballots or 20, it will be a convention for the history books.