Sunday, March 20, 2016

Trump is in deep trouble

As of this morning delegate allocation is
Trump                    678
Cruz                        423

Rubio                      164
Kasich                    143
Other                        21

Remaining        1,043

Trump will need 559 more delegates, or 53.6% of the remaining available.  Cruz will need 814 more delegates or 78% of the remaining available.  Assuming that Rubio releases his delegates to Kasich, Kasich will need 930 more delegates or 89.2% of the remaining available.  In a three way race, none of these seem probable.

The simplistic reporting done by much of the mainstream media is leading some to the impression that Trump will probably reach the 1,237 needed to lock up the nomination in the first ballot.  However, despite 'leading' in Arizona, Pennsylvania and California, he will likely lose all three.

Arizona and Utah will hold their primaries on March 22.  The recent polls for Arizona average the following:
Trump               34.0%
Cruz                   21.0 %
Kasich               12.5%
Undecided       32.5%

Trump is a 'love him or hate him' candidate.  One would assume that very few people who are still undecided are likely to break for him.  Most of those undecided were probably unsure between Kasich and Rubio and now that Rubio is out, will either vote for Kasich or, despite being 'likely voters', stay home.

Cruz may get a substantial number from people who are waiting to decide which candidate is likely to beat Trump.  So, Cruz is the likely winner.  He is also the presumptive winner in Utah, which means the delegate count will be close after March 22 between Cruz and Trump.

Wisconsin holds its primary on April 5.  There have been no recent polls and, as such, is a critical unknown in the race for 1,237 delegates.

New York holds its primary on April 19 and Trump is the presumptive winner.  On April 26 Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania hold their primaries.  There have been no recent polls in Connecticut, Rhode Island or Delaware, but one would assume strength for Trump.  

Maryland has had one recent poll
Trump            34%
Cruz                 25%

Kasich             18%
Rubio              14%
Undecided      9%

With Rubio out, this is too close to call between the three.

Pennsylvania has had two recent polls with the average as follows:

Trump          28.5%
Rubio            18.5%
Cruz               16.5%
Kasich           14.0%
Undecided   22.5%

Rubio/Kasich totals are in the lead and with the high undecided, one would expect a Kasich win.

Indiana has its primary on May 3 and there has been virtually no recent polling.  One would expect, based upon the polls in similar states that this will be a contest between Cruz and Kasich.

Nebraska and West Virginia have their primaries on May 10.

Nebraska is polling as follows
Trump               31.3%
Cruz                    19.3%
Rubio                 17.4Trump%
Kasich               10.1%
Undecided       21.9%

If the undecided break toward Rubio/Kasich, they would be projected to win the state.  However, Cruz has been winning neighboring states and that is a clear possibility.  Either way, Cruz and Kasich will average 34.4% if Trump gets no significant undecided, and, therefore, one of them should win.

In West Virginia, Trump is getting 44.0% of the vote and should take the state.

Oregon holds its primary on May 17.  There have been no recent polls

Washington hold its primary on May 24.  There have been no recent polls.

June 7 is the critical and last primaries, including California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota.  Only California has been recently polled.  However, one would expect New Jersey to go to Trump and Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota to go to Cruz.  In California
Trump             31.5%
Cruz                 21.0%
Kasich             17.5%
Rubio              14.0%
Undecided    16.0%

While Trump currently leads, it seems unlikely that the Rubio vote or the undecided are likely to go to him and Kasich actually looks like he is in the best position.

While the polls still have a significant number of poorly polled states and several of the critical states have very large percent undecideds, the sum total does not suggest that Trump will reach 1,237 on June 7.  Also, in the absence of a Cruz/Kasich consolidated ticket, which probably could get a first ballot nomination, it does not appear that the GOP can avoid a contested convention.

As ably described in this New York Times article and argued by Hugh Hewitt, there is a separate battle to select the individuals who will become the delegates who will be bound on the first ballot by their state primaries, but will usually become free to vote as they choose on the second and subsequent ballots. Trump's problem is that this process takes place at the State convention and long time party faithful delegates select party faithful National delegates.

While, generally, Trump's delegates will be bound to him for one vote but are not likely to have significant loyalty to him in subsequent ballots.  In other words, once the first ballot selects no winner, Trump will be hard pressed to keep the delegates that he has.  They will tend to flood to Cruz and, if he is still a candidate, Kasich.

There are two ways that candidates and party leadership can influence the voting in subsequent ballots. They can talk a candidate into withdrawing. Unlike the 1952 Democratic convention, they only need to talk one into withdrawing, since it then is a two man race and someone will have the majority of delegates. That definitely won't be Trump and the GOP leadership has more leverage on Cruz. So that is a possibility.

However, Cruz will likely wait until a ballot with some released delegates to see where they go. The RNC will likely encourage a migration of votes to Kasich because, at least at present, he is polling the best against Clinton.  Electability matters to party activists and that is where most will likely to go. However, the Tea Party has support and some will go to Cruz. Since Cruz will likely have more delegates than Kasich, it is possible that those fleeing Trump will break to Cruz enough for him to go over 1,237. However, that is not the way to bet.
Once all delegates are released and have settled on a candidate, the convention will be in a true deadlock. The only thing to do is to try to convince one of the candidates to withdraw. And Trump doesn't win because, if Cruz withdraws, Kasich wins. If Kasich withdraws, Cruz wins. Trump has no scenario in which he gets the majority of the delegates.



  1. Well, Trump got a populist stampede with a substantial increase in turnout nearly all voting for him. I suspect that the coverage of GOP leadership's attempt to thwart Trump led to the reaction. I'm embarrassed that I didn't see that coming. It could sweep him into White House. However, I think it is very likely that a 'true Conservative' third candidAte may emerge. That will either elect Clinton or throw it to the House.

  2. I guess after the election cycle finished it is clear that the hoi polloi are even more emotional and irrational than you could have imagined. Let's do what we can and hope for the best.
    Best regards, Ivan Shekerev MD.

    1. I never doubted that the hoi polloi could elect Trump should he get nominated. I didn't believe the GOP leadership would lose control of the nominating process. I expect that rules changes will keep this from happening again.

    2. I never doubted that the hoi polloi could elect Trump should he get nominated. I didn't believe the GOP leadership would lose control of the nominating process. I expect that rules changes will keep this from happening again.