Trump’s Big Day

Trump’s Big Day

The Briefing, Vol. IV, Issue 16-

This week:

  • Trump’s path to the nomination is straight and narrow
  • New York, where the margin really matters
  • Whining out West

President 2016

The new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll makes clear the stakes in the current GOP nomination battle. At negative 41 percent, Donald Trump’s favorable-unfavorable differential is the worst of any candidate in the history of polling by yet another firm.

A Trump nomination doesn’t just forfeit the 2016 presidential election — it probably also guarantees Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress and big Democratic gains at the state and local level. That would offer President Hillary Clinton a new opportunity to pass the next Obamacare — and pretty much whatever else she wants.

The stakes are therefore quite high, and anti-Trump Republicans have nothing to lose. Meanwhile, Trump speaks of the nomination as if he already deserves it, despite having received only 37 percent of the primary vote and earned about 45 percent of the delegates awarded so far.

A successful candidate needs a delegate majority, one way another. Trump’s path toward that has gotten narrower and narrower in the last month as Trump has reached his ceiling with the voters of most states (it won’t be his ceiling in New York) and the Rubio vote has consolidated mostly behind Ted Cruz.

New York, New York: “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.”

Apologies to Frank Sinatra, but it’s really the opposite case this week: One candidate needs to win big in New York. And he is expected to do so, but if he can’t, then it might be all over for him.

The more accurate line about New York and Donald Trump is that if he can make it past 50 percent in New York, he still has to make it in a whole bunch of other places — many of them less friendly to him — in order to become the Republican nominee. This remains the case no matter how much he wins by.

Trump has very little margin for error after his big loss in Wisconsin and his campaign’s continued bungling at nearly every state convention — both the ones that bind candidates and the ones that choose delegates already bound.

The latest ball to fall appears to be in Texas, where Cruz loyalists will likely pick all 155 delegates. But at least some of those (48, to be exact) will be bound to vote for Trump on the first ballot. That may not prove true for many West Virginia delegates, due to the Trump campaign’s apparent disarray over delegate recruitment in another state where he is expected to do quite well at the ballot box. This could cost him more than ten delegates he should be getting. And remember — a failure to enter the convention with a majority probably spells curtains for Trump, given that he failed to protect his flank by getting loyalists placed in his own bound delegate slots.

The question is not whether Donald Trump will win in New York, but by how much. It turns out that the difference between 49.9 percent and 50.1 percent for Trump is quite enormous, thanks to the way delegates there are awarded in New York.

First, there are the 14 statewide delegates. If Trump gets 50 percent statewide, he gets all 14. If he gets 49.999999 percent, and both Ted Cruz and John Kasich exceed 20 percent, then Trump will get 7 of these delegates and the rest will be split between Kasich and Cruz. (Note that with the exception of the few Congressional Districts Trump might actually lose, it doesn’t matter which of the two anti-Trump Republicans vote for — the only important thing is vote in large numbers and keep Trump under 50 percent overall.)

New York’s other 81 delegates are awarded based on the winner of each of the state’s 27 congressional districts. Trump gets all three delegates in each district where he exceeds 50 percent, just two of three wherever he wins with a plurality, and just one of three if he comes in second.

Thus, assuming Trump can eke out at least a plurality win in all 27 districts, the range of how well he will do is quite wide.

At best, he could take all 95 delegates or 14+(3×27). This would leave him with (depending on the estimate you want to use) between 839 (Associated Press) and 853 (Green Papers) delegates overall. That means he would be 398 or 384 delegates shy of the all-important majority, out of the 634 left to be awarded.

Were Trump to win with a mere plurality in each of New York’s districts, he would get just 61 delegates, or 7+2×27. This would leave him with somewhere between 805 and 819 delegates. That means he would need between 432 and 418 delegates to win the nomination — again out of 634 remaining to be awarded.

That range of 34 delegates (or of 48 if you include the uncertainty between estimates) might seem small, but it could determine everything. Trump’s missteps (in failing to compete in Colorado on March 1, for example) and continued rank-and-file Republican resistance to his candidacy have left him almost no room for error.

We discussed this in detail last week. Given the remaining states where Trump is expected to win no delegates at all (Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana, 92 delegates total) or earn less than half in proportional contests (Oregon, Washington, New Mexico), a mere 61 delegate victory for Trump in New York could be enough to derail him for good. If you take his worst estimate as given, the low-end performance would mean that even a victory in Indiana would probably not be enough to for him to enter the convention with a majority.

A better performance of, say, 75 delegates — and it is expected he will do at least that well — probably keeps him in the hunt. But his path would still be narrow and precarious.

Another note: If Trump does fail to get 50 percent even though it seems so unlikely based on polling, people will look back and remember one important fact about New York’s primary. It is a closed primary, and state law (in an effort to prevent Operation Chaos-type voter behavior) required voters to change their party registration last October if they want to vote in Tuesday’s election. (New voters could register Republican as recently as March 25.)

It turns out that neither of Trump’s children living in New York bothered to register, and one of his top advisors didn’t switch parties in time. It’s possible that as many as half a million Trump supporters (members of the Conservative and Independence parties) are expecting to be able to vote for Trump but will not be able to.

A lot of polls screen voters based on what they say, not on how they’re actually registered. Although Trump should get his majority in New York, this will be the most-cited reason in the event that he doesn’t.

Whine, Whine West: Trump thought he’d have the entire presidential race sewn up by late March. That’s one reason he didn’t bother to compete in Colorado, which held its precinct caucuses March 1, because the delegates wouldn’t be selected or bound until after it mattered. The same for Wyoming, whose precinct caucuses began February 16.

This was a calculated decision — Trump didn’t expect to do that well in most Western states anyway. And in general, he hasn’t. Idaho, which changed its rules to hold an actual primary instead of a caucus this year, quite nearly gave Cruz a majority vote and all of its delegates.

It’s also the reason he didn’t lay the groundwork for a successful North Dakota or Wyoming convention effort, or for the conventions in the many states he actually won, which as a result have been picking Cruz sympathizers for Trump’s delegate slots. This is why, although these delegates are bound to vote for Trump in Round One, they will not be his allies after that.

These mistakes, born of overconfidence, along with a consolidation of the anti-Trump vote, have resulted in a terrible string of losses for Trump in the time since Marco Rubio dropped out of the race. Since March 16, Cruz has essentially picked up (estimates vary, because not all delegates are bound) about 145 delegates to Trump’s 66, with zero going to John Kasich. This includes results from Arizona, Utah, North Dakota, Colorado, and Wyoming.

Trump’s response to his string of losses has been to whine about the process in Colorado and Wyoming, and to act like he’s somehow being robbed of delegates he made no serious effort to win. (His delegate hunter, Paul Manafort, said on This Week that any effort in Wyoming’s “would have been a waste.”) Although Colorado’s caucus/convention process may not be the best one for picking a nominee, its rules were known well in advance, and it isn’t the reason Trump’s delegates were summarily shut out. The real reason for the loss has to do with Trump’s earlier decisions in the campaign.

So to whine about this result now — and the result in Wyoming, where he also made no noteworthy effort — appears to be Trump’s way of setting himself up for future whining in case of a loss at a contested convention. This sort of thing could be damaging for the GOP in the long run.

But Trump has already done enough damage to the GOP brand, and divided the party’s voters so badly, that it might just not matter that much anymore.

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25 COMMENTS

  1. This is about the most depressing article I have read. It’s so obvious this is someone not for Trump. It was written to discourage all of us that believes Trump will win if no voter rigging is done and all is honest. We already know it hasn’t been honest in several cases. Was it written to make us just give up? Maybe. But I know a good many people will vote Democratic or just not vote if Trump is done wrong by the RNC.

    • If Trump gets the nomination, many republicans will not vote for him. They will either vote for Hillary or not vote at all. If Trump does not get the nomination, he very well may run as a third party candidate or if he doesn’t, the Trump lovers will probably not vote or vote for Hillary. Because of Donald Trump, I see the 2016 election, which should have been a shoe-in for the republicans, as a wash-out. Hillary doesn’t even have to work to get the job because, unlike Republicans, Dems always coalesce in the end. Although Mr. Trump may have business acumen, to me, good character is important in a POTUS and I do not see that in Donald Trump. I haven’t decided if I am able to vote for him or not vote at all.

      • I don’t agree. In fact I think right the opposite. If Trump loses the nomination, I have heard many people including friends, family and others say they will vote democratic or just stay home.
        I understand you not liking his campaign speech or words but I don’t think that is him. It helped him get a lot of tv time early on. If you have noticed lately, he has toned it down and is looking more presidential. We need a new person outside the establishment. Republicans have the majority of senate and house but nothing got done. Also I like the fact he owes no favors. He funded his campaign himself.

        • Debra, I believe I said the same thing about Trump voters. Either way, the Republicans will lose the 2016 house, senate and presidency. All of this is because of Mr. Trump. The man has shown such little respect for any of his party competitors (Carly Fiorina was my first favorite). He really disrespected Megan Kelly. I don’t care what his reasoning for doing it was. I have not totally made up my mind but if I vote for him , there will not be a clothespin large enough to hold my nose (my nose is not that big either). I know it is a vote for Hillary if I do not. I am not certain he is better than her.

          • Yeah, maybe not. It would really make me nauseous to have to vote Hillary but I just can’t vote for any other republican other than Trump. Kasich may be a nice guy but he is part of the establishment. I really don’t know why he has done so bad. Although he seems to be getting more votes here lately. Cruz who I thought was a Christian but as it turns out, he is in a religion that is close to the Morman religion. They call themselves Christians but if you ever have time, look it up. They are not even close. A persons beliefs are not why I choose a candidate but lies and deception are a big turn off for me. I live in MS and sure thought Cruz would have won the state. We are in the Bible Belt after all. I was happy to see Trump win the south. Even though his language seemed unlike a presidential candidate, I think he was saying what we all were thinking especially about our borders.

          • Good girl , you have done your homework….7 pillars is not a christian…their’s is a twist to christianity….God works in mysterious ways…. let your heart not be troubled…. listen to your heart and God…you can’t go wrong with that….

          • Yes you are right!! Good to know there are intelligent people on these discussions.

          • If the house and senate republicans lose it is their own fault for deceiving and lying to us not Trumps, all your doing is repeating what Ted Cruz and Fox News keeps telling everybody. Why should I vote for Republicans when they act like Democrats and give Obama everything he wants. They voted to fund all Obama’s liberal programs like Obamacare, Planned Parenthood and illegal immigration in the budget. Man and they call Trump supporters low information voters.

      • I’ve voted for EVERY Republican Presidential nominee beginning with Reagan in 1980 (oops…McGovern in 1972 and Carter in 1976, coming from a jackass party home)…even for Dole, for cryin’ out loud. But, you are correct. I will NOT vote for Donald Trump and, the way he’s smeared our own Senator Ted Cruz, Trump won’t win Red State Texas and I’ll help that happen. The GOP cannot win without Texas electoral votes.

      • Same goes if Cruz gets the nomination and Trump has millions of more voters than Cruz. I know I won’t vote for him after what he did to my candidate Dr. Carson and don’t waste your breath telling me he didn’t know anything about it, he could have called Dr,. Carson and asked him.

      • you are played like a fiddle…still, listening to your party… who by the way has no loyalty to you….but wished your loyalty to them…no matter how they screw you…so as long as they keep their power, ….even it means to get Clinton in office….right….good luck with that….I’ll take my chances and vote Trump…2016 and then their are those who turned from demoncrat to republican to vote for him, for they saw their party going communinsitic,,,it will all wash out…I am for Trump and I will do whatever it takes to not get Hillary in office… compisch…

      • I hope you do decide to vote Trump. His way of campaigning is different than what we are use to seeing. But he is changing. If he wins the election, down the road most
        Of his rhetoric will be forgotten. He is conservative and will do what he has promised I firmly believe. He has had the courage to say what many of us have thought but not voiced. Such as vetting Muslims and controlling the border. I want my country and my loved ones to be and grow up in a safe place.

    • Yes but Cruz supporters make excuses for the corrupt system while at the same time they try to convince people Cruz is an outsider. All Cruz is doing is milking the corrupt establishment system.

      • yes he learned the system early on….lyin Cruz….couldn’t even answer a simple question by Sean Hannity today….and Hannity was very perplexed by asking a question to which he deflecteded three times… Hannity I have never heard him in 7 years actually get angry… until now…at this point I knew…I was correct in knowing this person cruz is NWO… in a very convincing disquise….people will see.

      • Yes. I agree. Honestly I believe whoever gets the most delegates should be the nominee!!! Cruz apparently can’t see how he is being used. Kasich has stayed in the race with only one win. Yet he also in polls (if you believe them), he is the only one who can win in Nov. It doesn’t make sense. Maybe he has been promised the nominee several months ago. The RNC is so corrupt. They could care less what the voters want. If this happens, they will say they picked one of the three that can beat Hillary. That will be their public explanation. Trump they don’t like because he doesn’t owe any favors to anyone. They know they can’t control him and also they lose their gravy train from all the rich superpacs. I really hope Trump gets the 1237. Indiana and California really need to support him. Nothing the RNC can do if he reached that number!!!

  2. It is quite telling that Donald Trump’s favorable-unfavorable differential is the worst of any candidate in the history of polling. Congratulations to Senator Ted Cruz on earning the support of more and delegates. Trust in God and vote for the best candidate.

    • And God tells me he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Don’t be deceived God will not be mocked whatever a man sews he shall also reap. I don’t think God takes to kindly to a man betraying his brother in the Lord like Judas Cruz did to Dr. Carson. Just Sayin

  3. New York was always going to go Democratic, anyway, so Cruz’s “New York values” comment (Trump’s own words to the late Tim Russert on Meet the Press) wouldn’t have mattered anyway. But Trump is an idiot, trashing our own Senator Ted Cruz. The GOP cannot win without the huge number of Texas electoral votes (38 – second ONLY to California’s 55) and Texas will go Clinton if Trump gets the nomination. Think about it.

  4. Trump can complain all he wants about how the voting rules were against him. Everyone played with the same rules. Apparently “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz figured them out. So why couldn’t Trump?

    I will vote for either Trump or Cruz over both Hillary and Bernie. I don’t care which one wins. But I also know that Trump likely loses to both where Cruz beats Hillary and is tied with Bernie. Being from PA, I also know that Hillary beats Trump here, Cruz beats Hillary, and Bernie beats both right now. Just to add, Kasich beats both Hillary and Bernie in PA, with Hillary losing by double digits.

    It seems to me that people that are looking for an electable candidate are voting for Cruz, and people that want to make a statement are voting for Trump. Do Republicans want to just make a statement, or do they want to win?

  5. Voting for trump is a big mistake. With him, all of your rights are negotiable. He would be the second worst president elected

  6. If the congress loses seats its not because of Trump its because they have lied to and deceived their base. You people try to spin it so it will be Trumps fault. Just today Fox News tried to say because of the new people Trump hired they may see him as an insider, may I remind everybody that Trump is not accepting the lobbyist, special interest, establishment PAC money. CRUZ IS. Cruz supporters say they want an outsider but he doesn’t look like an outsider to me.

    • exactly….they have been in O’s side pocket even in the 2014 saying and promising they would not fund O’s agenda….wrong we the people were played like a fiddle…..NO MORE….NO MORE… NOT EVER AGAIN…WE ARE AWAKE WITH BOTH EYES WIDE OPEN….CAN YOU NOT HEAR US….YES YOU DO…NOT ONLY DO YOU HEAR US….BUT YOU REFUSE TO LISTEN…. WELL TWO CAN PLAY THAT GAME…WATCH COME NOV… 2016

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