To stop the billionaire
from hitting, or coming very close to, the magic number of 1,237 delegates needed to seal the Republican nomination and to raise the prospect of a contested convention, they must do more than simply start snapping up victories in the remaining nominating contests: They must fundamentally reshape the political map.
Cruz, the Texas senator seen as extreme by many mainstream voters, would suddenly have to start appealing to moderates. And Kasich, the Ohio governor branded a RINO (Republican in Name Only) by many grass-roots activists must suddenly find an invisible connection to conservatives.
And even if that worked, both men would have to start winning big in precincts and entire states that look nothing like those where they have had success so far.
“If things continue on the same trajectory that they are on right now. Trump is going to get to 1,237 delegates or awfully close to 1,237,” said University of Georgia Professor Joshua Putnam, an expert of the delegate math and publisher of the Frontloading Hq blog.
According to the latest CNN estimate, Trump leads the race with 741 delegates, Cruz has 461 and Kasich, who has only won his home state of Ohio, has 145. Marco Rubio captured 166 delegates before he left the race.
To clinch the nomination, Trump needs to win just 55% of the remaining 899 delegates. Cruz needs 86% and Kasich needs 121% — in other words, hundreds of delegates that don’t actually exist. To show the improbable nature of Cruz’s task, Trump’s dominant position in the delegate count is based on winning only around 47% of the delegates so far awarded.
But the race is also certain to take several months to wrap up. The primary schedule means Trump will have to at least wait until the June 7 contests — including the mammoth California primary with its 172 delegates — before he can definitively clinch the nomination.
Cruz is billing himself as the only candidate with a real chance of slowing Trump — a task he says is complicated by Kasich’s continued campaign.
“You can’t lose every state and expect to be the nominee,” Cruz told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day” on Wednesday. “Right now, Kasich’s role is really being a spoiler. Kasich benefits Donald Trump.”
But Kasich maintains that no candidate is likely to reach the delegate total needed to win the race, so to leave now would be “nuts.”
“I am not going anywhere, am I a spoiler, of course I am not a spoiler,” Kasich said on CNN on Monday.
Sure, Cruz does have a mathematical chance of overcoming Trump’s delegate lead and clinching the nomination himself before the Cleveland convention in July — but it would essentially require running the table. So hopes o halting Trump rely on him being stopped so far short of the 1,237 barrier that an attempt to deprive him of the nomination at the convention does not smack of a coup against millions
of Trump voters.
Map favors Trump, Kasich
The system of doling out delegates in each state — some are winner take all, some are proportionately awarded, and some have intricate hybrid distribution formulas — is so complicated it’s just not possible to say how the math will play out.
Trump’s exact final number could depend on whether he reaches 50% thresholds some states and congressional districts require for a winner take all distribution of their delegates.
A key reason why Trump has such a strong advantage is the makeup of the remaining states.
Many of them have characteristics that favor the reality star, for example, because they are in northeast with crops of less ideological, lower middle class and working class voters, where he has done well so far this convention season.
So, the billionaire is confident of prospering in New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, California and New Jersey for example.
“No one has yet been able to reduce Donald Trump’s percentage of the vote,” said Henry Olsen, an elections analyst at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Assuming that continues, “Cruz either needs to start appealing to moderates, or Kasich needs to start appealing to conservatives. Neither has been able to do that at all. Neither seems to be showing an inclination to really try.”
Olsen says the headache for party figures desperate to stop Trump is that neither Cruz, nor Kasich have the cross-over appeal to consolidate all opposition to the former reality star.