The process through which we Americans nominate candidates for president is extraordinarily complicated, as 2016’s election is making excruciatingly clear. Comprehensive, readable results can be found at Real Clear Politics‘ “Election Central: 2016” page. I’ve put their delegate tables into an Excel spreadsheet in order to analyze the current state of both parties’ contests. Following are the results, which include Tuesday’s primaries and caucuses.
On the Republican side, a candidate needs 1,237 delegates to win an outright majority on the first ballot at the convention. There are 2,472 delegates available; 1,633 delegates have been awarded in contests so far, though one of the millions of reasons this is so complicated is that not all of those are bound to a particular candidate. There are 839 delegates remaining for allocation, which is 34% of the total number of delegates. Now, let’s break down each candidate with significant delegate totals:
- Donald Trump has won 739 delegates and needs 498 more for a majority, which is 59% of the remaining possible delegates. So far, Trump has won 45% of delegates awarded, so he’s actually pretty far off the pace needed to win a majority.
- Ted Cruz has won 465 delegates and needs 772 more for a majority, which is 92% of the remaining possible delegates. So far, Cruz has won 28% of delegates awarded, so he’s way off the pace.
- John Kasich has won 143 delegates and needs 1,094 more for a majority, which is 130% of the remaining possible delegates. So far, Kasich has won 9% of delegates awarded, and he literally cannot achieve a majority on the first ballot at the convention.
- Marco Rubio has won 166 delegates, which is 10% of the total delegates awarded. He dropped out of the race, but many of his delegates can become unbound depending on the rules of each state. This could be very important, and you can read the details here.
If we assume that Rubio supporters in remaining states will mostly go to Cruz or Kasich, members of the Republican Establishment who want to deny Trump the nomination can spin the above numbers as good news. Cruz, Kasich, and Rubio delegates amount to 47% of the total awarded. If this pace continues, that would be enough to deny Trump a majority. And if that happens, you can talk me into anything happening at the convention: unbound Rubio delegates voting for Trump to push him over the top in order to stop a potential Republican civil war, Cruz and Kasich making a deal to win on the second ballot with Cruz at the top of the ticket, Trump’s campaign manager assaulting and sexually harassing delegates on the convention floor – really, anything.
Now, to rain on the Republican Establishment’s parade for a moment, many of the remaining contests are winner-take-all, which means Trump can get on pace for a majority by taking delegate-rich, winner-take-all states like Wisconsin (42 delegates), Pennsylvania (71 delegates), and California (172 delegates). Trump leads in the most recent polls conducted in each state, but those polls include Rubio and some even include Ben Carson. So, they’re outdated, and the whole thing is such a mess I won’t even hazard a guess about which way those electorates are leaning right now.
Just for fun though, let’s add New York to the mix, which awards 95 delegates proportionally. If Cruz and Kasich don’t break the 20% vote threshold there, they will not win any delegates, meaning Trump could grab all 95 and he’s currently way ahead in the New York polls. If we give Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, California, and New York to Trump, that’s 380 delegates. That would leave him 118 delegates shy of the majority threshold, which is only 26% of delegates in the other remaining states!
Trump still has a viable path to an outright majority. It may be time for the Republican Party to repay its “nonsense debt” – a phrase coined by Josh Marshall in this piece that explains what’s happening to the Republican Party. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Stay tuned tomorrow for crunching the Democratic Party’s nomination contest numbers.