Going into last night’s Wisconsin results, the buzz was that Donald Trump was closing in and while Cruz would win it would be by a smaller margin than expected. When Bernie Sanders was declared the Democratic Party winner as soon as the polls closed and the GOP race was judged still too close to call it seemed to back up the early buzz. That buzz was wrong, Texas Senator Ted Cruz won by a larger margin than even the most optimist polls, by a 13% (48-35%) margin. After declaring the win, Cruz called Wisconsin a turning point in the nominating process. Acting like a five-year-old, Donald Trump said that it was meaningless and besides, the other guy cheated (so much for trying to unify the party).
Note: Many sites have their own estimates of the allocated and remaining delegates, they are all relatively close, but the numbers below may differ slightly from yours. The numbers crunched below come from Politico and Real Clear Politics.
After figuring in Wisconsin, the likely scenario is that the Republican nominee will be decided by a strong ground game at an open GOP convention. That favors Ted Cruz.
The chart below details the number of delegates each of the candidates have (notice Kasich still has fewer delegates than Rubio who suspended his campaign weeks ago). The next line details how many more delegates each candidate needs to get a majority of delegates (1,237). And finally what percentage of the 882 delegates reaming to be chosen would the candidate have to win to get to the majority.
Frankly no candidate has a realistic chance of getting to the 1,237 number before the convention. Trump who needs to get 56% of the remainder has an outside chance of gaining a majority. While Rubio has suspended his campaign he hasn’t as of yet released his delegates so they are still committed to him in the first round.
Much of the mainstream media is hinting that the Trump campaign has collapsed. Between his crazy statements of the past week about women and nukes and Cruz’s YUGE win in Wisconsin, the playing field has changed–don’t count on it. Wisconsin is a different state for one thing, according to exit polls they aren’t as angry as other voters, and they are more concerned with electability than voters in earlier primaries. And nothing has happened to make the rabid Trumpsters change their mind about the billionaire.
Here’s the remaining challenge for Donald Trump. He needs to get to the majority number before the convention. In most states, delegates who are committed to him in the first round of voting can change their votes in future rounds. (Note to Trumpsters-that’s not cheating or stealing…its called the rules of the primary and part of running for president is being a good enough executive to stay within the rules, but to exploit them to your example). The bottom line Trump is if get 1,237 delegates before the convention, chances are that he will never get to that number. Ted Cruz who arguably has the best ground game organization of any candidate in either party. Cruz’s convention team has already begun to convince delegates to switch to him once they are no longer committed to vote for others.
The task for Ted Cruz is to stay close. Unless some sort of miracle on the level of the Jets in Super Bowl III occurs he will not get to the 1,237 majority. And despite what he says, Senator Cruz knows he wont achieve that number. Wisconsin proves again that it is a two-man race. One question however is how much momentum can Cruz get off of the Wisconsin win?
Voters have two weeks to “stew” before the next primary New York where Trump is expected to win big. However, delate allocation is on a congressional district by congressional district basis and the Texas Senator could do well in upstate NY and Orthodox Jewish sections of Brooklyn and Long Island to get a small share of those delegates.
New York is followed by more eastern states which seem to favor Trump. But here’s where the momentum has to kick in. The week after NY is winner-take all Pennsylvania with 71 delegates. As of now Quinnipiac has Trump with a 9% lead. This is a state where Kasich is playing the spoiler, he’s in third place but with 25%. And since it is winner-take-all the only thing Kasich is achieving is splitting the vote, possibly from Cruz.
In the lifetime of a political nomination race three weeks is a lifetime. There is plenty of time for Cruz to make make up the nine-point difference (or for Trump to expand his).
The remaining states (until California) do not have recent polling, however Cruz should do well in Indiana, Nebraska, Oregon, Washington, Montana and South Dakota.
That leaves us with the big enchilada, California–172 delegates winner takes all by congressional district. Right now Trump has a slight advantage but there is a long time between now and June 7th.
This is where the Cruz organization kicks in, there are about 150 uncommitted delegates, with the superior ground game Cruz can bag a big portion of those. And if Rubio decides to release his delegates I would expect him to gain significant part of those also.
Here’s the way it looks right now. Going into the convention Trump will have between 1,000-1,100 delegates. Cruz will probably have between 850-900. And John Kasich will still have fewer delegates than Marco Rubio, but will still believe he has a chance (he must be smoking some good stuff). There is little chance the delegates will turn to Kasich, after all he’s only won his home state, and he doesn’t have a convention ground game that comes close to Cruz’s
If pushed to a prediction today, I would say that Ted Cruz’s superior ground game will give him the victory in a second or third round. But the way this campaign is going, expect that prediction to change a few more times before the action starts in Cleveland.