Indiana might now be Trump’s last hope

Indiana might now be Trump’s last hope

The Briefing, Vol. IV, Issue 15-

This week:

  • Trump’s actual worst week
  • His path to nomination isn’t closed yet
  • Could all come down to Indiana

Trump’s worst week: Last week, Donald Trump‘s campaign staff had consoled themselves with the fact that their “worst week yet” — the week before — maybe wasn’t so bad. In fact, compared to last week, it wasn’t.

The bad week began weekend before last, when Trump was trounced in a pair of Colorado district conventions. Then on Tuesday, in Wisconsin, Trump lost to Ted Cruz by 13 points amid ultra-high turnout in the Badger State. His unfavorable ratings hit new highs in the polls. He then got swept on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Colorado’s remaining district and statewide conventions, letting slip another 34 delegates (really 37 if you include the three party officials, who will not be for Trump).

And finally, to cap it all off, Trump began bleeding his own actual pledged delegates. In North and South Carolina, several Cruz backers were installed to vote for Trump on the first ballot. It’s the same story as in Indiana, where state party leaders are expected to install an anti-Trump slate this Saturday, ahead of the May 3 primary. And this has already happened in Tennessee, Louisiana, and Georgia.

To be clear, Trump is not actually losing pledged delegates when this happens. He will get every vote he has earned in elections and caucuses in the first, second and (in the case of Florida) third ballot at the convention, as the rules require. Every delegate pledged to Trump must either vote for him or resign — the rules provide no leeway on this point.

But if he hasn’t got a majority nailed down on that first ballot, it’s increasingly clear that Trump will not be nominated. So the critical question is whether he can get to 1,237 delegates or not.

The winnowingSince March 15, the day Marco Rubio dropped out of the presidential race, the following number of delegates have been won by each candidate:

Cruz 114
Trump 65
Uncommitted 35
Kasich 0

At most, it appears that one of those 35 uncommitted is a Trump supporter. So the more important total is

Trump 66
Not Trump 148

Trump’s victory in Arizona did not depend completely on the fact that Marco Rubio was still on the ballot and got 72,000 votes. That wouldn’t have been enough for Cruz to overtake him. Still, it’s worth pointing out that with the outcomes in Utah, North Dakota, Colorado and Wisconsin might have all been more complicated had Rubio still been in the race. One can only wonder how much better the prospects for stopping Trump would look if Rubio had been out in time for the contests in Missouri and Illinois.

This is one sign that Cruz is successfully consolidating most of the Rubio vote — something he must do to stop Trump. In the three actual primary contests with voters that have taken place since March 15 (Arizona, Utah, Wisconsin), Cruz has received 43.4 percent overall, to Trump’s 36.7 percent. Trump has a few good contests to look forward to now — New York especially — but in much of America, the shine is off.

Delegate Math: At this point, the math is still there to make Donald Trump the Republican nominee. But his path is now very narrow, and any significant deviation will derail him for good.

There is more than one delegate estimate out there. Let’s look at the one most favorable to Trump — the Green Papers estimate of 758 delegates. (Note that if another count is more accurate, he might have 15 delegates fewer than that). We’ll also assume, arguendo, that Trump’s one “leaning” unpledged North Dakota delegate is a solid Trump vote — so 759 it is.

For purposes of this illustration, let’s ignore the chronological calendar for a moment, and think of the contests instead based on how the state parties award their delegates. We will divide all of the remaining contests into three groups. The first group is of states that award their delegates in a winner-take-all fashion — these have 159 delegates in all:

Nebraska (36)
Delaware (16)
South Dakota (29)
Montana (27)
New Jersey (51)

The second group is of states that award delegates proportionally (or more or less proportionally). These have 115 delegates to award in all:

Rhode Island (19)
Oregon (28)
Washington (44)
New Mexico (24)

The third group is the most complicated, because they award delegates based on both statewide and Congressional District votes. These have 495 delegates to award in all:

New York (95)
Pennsylvania (71)
West Virginia (34)
Maryland (38)
Connecticut (28)
Indiana (57)
California (172)

Group One is the easiest to allocate. Trump should win New Jersey and Delaware, for 67 delegates. Cruz should win all the others, for 92 delegates. That brings Trump’s delegate count to 826. That means Trump needs to win 411 of the remaining 610 delegates, or just under two-thirds.

Now let’s make a reasonable assumption about Group Two. Trump has received about 37 percent of the primary vote so far, so let’s just assume he does exactly that well in these states, on aggregate. We will assume that he wins 37 percent of their delegates. (This is actually a generous assumption, for two reasons: Trump’s lousy performance so far in Western states, and the fact that some of these states will likely award district delegates to each of the three candidates.) This would mean Trump gets 43 delegates out of these states, and not-Trump gets the other 72. This brings Trump’s delegate count to 869.

Group Three is the hardest to guess. The one thing we can say with certainty is that, given our (fairly reasonable) assumptions so far, Trump would need to win 368 out of the 495 delegates, or just under 75 percent.

This is no small task in an election where Trump has been getting amost exactly 37 percent or the vote. It means he cannot afford a bad day in any of the Group Three states. If we look at each one separately, here is where Trump’s target needs to be in each state — and of course, whatever he fails to get in one state he can always make up in another:

New York: 72 delegates out of 95
Pennsylvania: 54 out of 71
West Virginia: 26 out of 34
Maryland: 29 out of 38.
Connecticut: 21 out of 28.
Indiana: 43 out of 57
California: 129 out of 172

Given our other assumptions here, Trump would be mathematically eliminated from a delegate majority if he were to lose 128 of the delegates in this group. The places where delegate leakage is most likely to occur for him are California (where there’s a close race and Cruz leads in many congressional districts), Indiana (which Trump might lose outright), and Pennsylvania, where 54 of the 71 delegates are chosen by name at the bottom of the ballot. Because the Pennsylvania delegate candidates’ preferences are not actually printed on the ballot (as they were in Illinois), a well-organized campaign is likely to do much better than a disorganized one. Trump’s delegate disasters over the weekend make clear which kind he has.

There’s one more thing: Although there is no polling yet ahead of Indiana’s May 3 contest, leaders in the state seem to believe that Cruz has a decent shot at winning in the Hoosier State. It stands to reason — its economy and demographics (among Republicans, anyway) is not too dissimilar from Wisconsin. Even so, Trump is virtually assured 6 delegates out of Indiana (the reward for victories in two Congressional Districts), and to be safe we should assume he will get 9 if he loses there.

So in our Cruz-Indiana victory scenario, the bar gets higher for Trump in all of the other states. Suddenly he needs to win 359 out of 438 delegates, or 82 percent. That implies targets of:

New York: 78 delegates out of 95
Pennsylvania: 59 out of 71
West Virginia: 28 out of 34
Maryland: 32 out of 38.
Connecticut: 23 out of 28.
California: 142 out of 172

This is probably a bridge too far. Which means that Trump really needs to win Indiana. The Hoosier State, once described on its license plates as the “Crossroads of America,” could well determine whether the GOP goes the route of Wisconsin or the route of Illinois and Michigan.

To explain this more simply, I put together a video, which originally appeared here. You’ll notice it makes slightly different assumptions (a bit more favorable to Trump), but the general idea is about the same:



  1. I will continue to pray and live in a manner which opposes Trump because I believe his character and many policy positions are unbecoming to the Republican party nomination. He acts more like a Democrat than anything else.

    • His character? You mean the character painted by the media that you’re willing to swallow? Or the character that has produced some outstanding adult children who are incredibly loyal to their father? Or the character that has so many who worked for him also being so loyal?

      • For me, it is the character I have seen him exhibit, all my adult life, since following him from the day he became a big shot, decades ago. He was nicknamed The Donald by the media, as they mocked his flagrant disregard for rules, people and decency. It became soon understood that, if there was a loophole to enrich The Donald, at the expense of others, you could count on him to slither though it. Nothing has changed. He is who he has always been.

    • 68 years old and has been a Demon Rat for 67 years and 3 months now he is a RINO at best!!! At worst just ANOTHER LOBBYIST!!!!!

  2. How many ads do you see on a given day for donations to Cruz??? He wants you to pay for his election so when he is elected he can do as his party elites want and ignore the voters. He will be controlled by those billionaires that control the party.
    Trump has them running scared as he has not asked for money and will not be controlled by them. Cruz is going to be bought and paid to obey what they want, just look at the skullduggery he pulled in Colorado.Shows what his values and morality are, at least Trump does not profess to hold values he does not hold. TRUMP 2016!!!!

    • So if Trump is nominated, he will not take one penny of RNC’s money, so not to be beholden to Party bosses and “special interests” who contribute to RNC? Trump will fund his projected $1 billion campaign out of his own pocket? (Oh, and the donation button on his Web site is just for show?) If any Trumpster divers actually believe that, please email me if you’re ever coming to NYC. I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell ya!

      • I live in Ny already, and no he is not taking donations for the primarys. But he will for the general election like he has already stated.

    • Cruz is hated by the Republican elite and for good reason. He is FOR constitutional governance, FOR a sensible tax code and FOR limited government. Hopefully, he will be nominated and the country will be saved.

      Otherwise, it is possible that the Libertarian, Gov. Gary Johnson, a superlative Governor and a great candidate, who speaks Presidential and looks Presidential has a possibility of winning. However, as a third party candidate, it is a long shot, even though the Libertarians are the only party, besides the Reps and Dems, who will be on the ballot in all 51 jurisdictions.

        • Well, Bryan, you may be correct. But, at least, Cruz deserves to win, having worked so hard to earn the nomination. Cruz has been the exact opposite of Trump in this department. Trump has, simply, been too lazy and has not done the hard work that every presidential candidate must do to learn the issues and the facts.

          • Deserves?, has worked hard?. No one has worked harder, has faced more opposition than anyone (the liberal and phoney conservative media ie fox, cbs,nbc,abc,cnn and so on, including printed media. Not to mention every crying liberal celebrity. The Rnc, And the Dnc. Super pac’s, has paid protestors disrupting his rally’s.) He has been working harder than anyone. And dispite this he has the most deligates and the most votes. Cruz does not, nor does he have the trust of the people.

          • Trump appearing at rallies to give a speech to an adoring crowd is like you, or I, going to the beach on a hot humid day. Trump would rather give a speech to a large crowd than sit in his office all day. He even loves the disruptions.

            I live in NE Penna and I can tell you that Cruz is preferred in this area. But my main criterion is that Cruz is smart enough and cool enough that he can actually WIN. Trump can only lose to Hillary, or whoever else they nominate.

          • That your opinion, and i think you are delusional. But i will have to agree to disagree.

    • We have to help out The Donald to make up for his organizational shortcomings like getting his liberal kids to register to vote for him.

  3. There are some simple facts that will doom any Republican candidate other than Trump (the establishment will never elect Cruz at the convention you loons). Trump has received millions more enthusiastic votes than other Republicans, and many of these people will not vote for #NotTrump unless #NotTrump obtains a number of first ballot delegate votes that approaches what Trump has. If it’s not Trump, it won’t be Cruz, and anybody who has had the courage to campaign in the primary will get crushed in November.

    That leaves Kasich, who doesn’t really qualify under my scenario of first round delegates. Besides, the aw shucks, I’m the best governor shtick is not going to win against the DNC machine in the fall. Only a firebrand that does not try to channel a greasy television preacher is going to win. That would be Trump.

    You can jump up and down and threaten to hold your breath until you turn blue because we just don’t understand how the process works, but at the end of the day, we won’t vote or might very well vote for another candidate in the fall. Hope that works for ya, ‘cuz it’s true. Any reply is a waste of time because I’m not arguing a point, I’m just pointing out facts. Good luck.

    • You can jump up and down and threaten to hold your breath until you turn
      blue because we just don’t understand how the process works, but at the
      end of the day, we won’t vote or might very well vote for another
      candidate in the fall. Hope that works for ya, ‘cuz it’s true. Any reply
      is a waste of time because I’m not arguing a point, I’m just pointing
      out facts. Good luck.
      iS THAT THE new trump ad????

  4. The politics are dirty. That is the bottom line concerning the Republican Party establishment. They are willing and able to lie and cheat in order to get the nomination.
    Sure sounds Christian to me . . . if you consider them all hypocrites. Yet enough good Christian folk are voting for people that I consider clearly in a devil’s camp that it is pathetic.

    The little thing with Colorado? Wyoming? Utah?

    The little thing with showing nude photos of a professional model? Or digging up things that are 30 years old or more?

    Cheating on delegates supposedly voting for Trump but actually going elsewhere?
    Not recognizing delegates for someone they do not like?
    The more I see the more I dislike the entire election.
    What is in a name?
    Because the name I see going on right now is one that stinks to high heaven.
    I think the party needs to clean up its act big time.
    Either that or disband.
    Because come the fall, the silent majority of voters will not tolerate what is going on.
    That means no Republican anywhere will ever get elected again.

    • You know, I agree with your last paragraph. Few, if any, Republicans deserve to be elected. This could conceivably be the last year that Republicans will be an important factor in US elections. The likes of Boehner and McConnell have ruined the party forever.

      It is time for a third party to replace the Republicans. Fortunately, the Libertarian Party already exists to fill this void. The Libertarians have long advocated for the libertarian principles that this country was founded upon. Like Ted Cruz, they are Constitutionalists, conservatives and followers of Barry Goldwater and they have the knowledge and fortitude to withstand the likes of Boehner and McConnell.

      Its about time, don’t you think?

  5. The RNC is currently utilizing Cruz to prevent Trump from getting enough delegates, then they will throw Cruz overboard, and pick their own loser. The only hope for a good chance to beat Hillary is for Trump and Cruz to come together prior to the convention, leaving the RNC with nowhere to go.

  6. Most likely, either Trump or Cruz ends up as the nominee based on the rules put out by the RNC. If Trump doesn’t get it on the first ballot, I think Cruz ends up getting it. Granted, if the Democrats nominate Hillary, I think either one would beat an indicted Hillary. Even if she isn’t indicted, a mass protest resignation at the FBI (likely to happen) could be just as bad or even worse.

Leave a Reply