Ted Cruz’s chickens have come home to ride the 7 train.
Over two months ago, in his desperate attempt to win the Iowa caucuses, Ted Cruz slammed Donald Trump and his “New York values.” The purpose was to rally Iowa’s sizable evangelical population against what many of them consider east coast liberalism propped up by the likes of the mainstream media, the Democratic Party, and Donald Trump himself. After his Iowa win, Cruz claimed his comments worked like a charm. Of course, he probably thought a Trump loss in Iowa would catalyze the billionaire’s implosion, too.
It didn’t happen. Donald Trump is still alive and the favorite for the nomination. Even worse for Cruz’s war against Trump, New York has become the latest battleground, and Cruz is way, way back. It turns out that when trying to win a national primary, insulting one of the country’s largest states is strongly discouraged. Thanks to his January comments, Trump is going to blow him out.
For those rooting for a contested convention (ahem), it’s a bummer of a development. New York’s April 19 primary is a weighty contest. Its 95 delegates comfortably make it the fourth largest prize of the Republican Primary, with Florida barely edging it out for third:
- California: 172 delegates
- Texas: 155
- Florida: 99
- New York: 95
- Georgia: 76
Moreover, the New York Primary’s rules allow a winning candidate to easily run up the score. Each of the 27 districts will award their 3 delegates to a candidate that earns more than 50 percent of its vote; the state does the same with its 14 at-large delegates. The polls suggest Trump can take advantage of these allocation rules.
Trump hits over 50 percent in every poll. That probably means he’s hitting over 50 percent in just about every district. If he comes up short of a majority in a handful of districts, he’d still get two of the three delegates in those isolated cases. It appears Trump earning around 90 of the state’s 95 delegates is likely.
In order for Cruz to earn any, he’d need to finish in second place in districts where Trump does not clear 50 percent. Thanks to Cruz’s “New York values” comment, we see that Kasich is just as likely as Cruz to do that. Kasich also fits more naturally with northeast politics than does Cruz. In sum, Cruz could very well be shut-out of the Empire State.
If so, what are the ramifications? Let’s assume Trump gets 90 delegates while Kasich ekes out 5 second-place district finishes. Here is a before and after of delegate counts. In parentheses is the percent of remaining delegates that the candidate has to win in order to reach the 1,237 majority:
With one state, Trump can move to only needing about half of remaining delegates, while Cruz’s percent rapidly approaches Kasichesque impossibility, making it increasingly difficult for Cruz to make the pitch that he can catch the leader.
To make matters worse, the week after New York will be Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Each have their own quirky allocations, but, as always, they are kind to the winners and will allow them to quickly accrue delegates. None of them are up Cruz’s alley, and all available polls (linked in the first sentence of this paragraph) show Trump ahead across the board. Cruz will be mathematically eliminated from getting 1,237 by the end of April. That’ll be a sizable blow in his quest to rack up delegates for the balance of the primaries, damaging his chances even if a contested convention were somehow forced.
All told, the narrative coming out of Wisconsin — that Cruz was consolidating #NeverTrump forces and was kicking off a big comeback against a mortally wounded Trump — will be totally reversed. Indeed, we may remember Wisconsin as Peak Cruz.
Ultimately, on April 19, the state of New York might bury the Cruz Campaign. How’s that for New York values?