End Game: How Trump Reaches 1,237

(Note: this post doubles as my New York Primary preview for the GOP, since the only suspense is how many of the state’s 95 delegates Kasich and Cruz can siphon from Trump’s impending triumph. On Tuesday I’ll have a New York Primary Preview for the marginally more dramatic Democratic Primary, which will serve as conclusion to Tuesday’s “Sanders is Almost Out of Time” post.)

In a New York minute, everything can change.

I feel bad for everyone talking themselves into a contested convention. I’d like to be right there with you. I really would. But it’s just not happening. I target Trump reaching 1,237 on June 7, or he’ll be so close that he’ll secure what he needs in the six weeks leading up to the Republican National Convention.

Stop living in the moment. Just because Republicans rallied to Ted Cruz in Wisconsin does not mean they’ll rally to Ted Cruz everywhere else. There are no signs that #NeverTrump has lifted him in the upcoming states, and it’s the upcoming states that will determine momentum for the home stretch.

Here is the upcoming schedule of Republican primaries between now and the end of the month:

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Trump is going to win all six of those contests. The only questions are by how much and how many delegates will he net?

Here’s a quick look at each state:

New York (95 delegates)–April 19

  • 14 state-wide delegates that are winner-take-all to a candidate that earns a majority, or proportional to those who receive over 20 percent if no one reaches a majority.
  • 27 districts worth 3 delegates each (81 total), WTA to a candidate that earns a majority, or 2 and 1 to the winner and runner-up if no one reaches a majority in the district.
  • Polling: Trump 53.4, Kasich 22.1, Cruz 17.3
  • Likely result: Trump earns around 90 delegates, give or take 5, with Kasich and Cruz splitting the rest, if any

His home state comes at the perfect time for Trump, who can wrest back momentum overnight. After a win in the Empire State, his numbers across the northeast will grow even stronger, boosting him in these April 26 states:

Connecticut (28 delegates)

  • 13 state-wide delegates that are winner-take-all to a candidate that earns a majority, otherwise proportional to all candidates who earn 20 percent
  • 5 districts worth 3 delegates each (15 total), WTA to the candidate that wins each district, regardless of percentage
  • April Poll: Trump 50, Kasich 26, Cruz 17, and that was before a Friday night rally in Hartford.
  • Likely result: After Trump wins New York big, he’ll only climb in neighboring Connecticut. Trump earns all 15 district delegates easily (since he doesn’t need a majority in a district to win its three delegates), and probably all 13 at-large delegates, though, if he’s held under 50 percent, he’d lose a few to Kasich.

Delaware (16 delegates)

  • Winner-take-all state.
  • No polling, but considering surrounding strength in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, he’s probably around 50. Nevertheless, he doesn’t even have to hit 50 percent to take all the delegates.
  • Likely result: Trump earns all 16 delegates with a strong plurality of the vote.

Maryland (38 delegates)

  • 14 state-wide delegates winner-take-all to the leading candidate across the state, regardless of percentage
  • 8 districts worth 3 delegates each (24 total), WTA to the candidate that wins each district, regardless of percentage
  • Polling: Trump 40.8, Kasich 25, Cruz 23.8
  • Likely result: Again, New York will only strengthen his numbers. These percentages suggest he takes all delegates state-wide and in each district, since again he doesn’t need a majority of the vote to earn them, netting him all 38 delegates. That being said, DC proximity might allow Kasich or Cruz to pick off a district or two.

Pennsylvania (71 delegates)

  • 17 state-wide delegates winner-take-all to the leading candidate across the state, regardless of percentage
  • 18 districts worth 3 delegates each (54 total), chosen by the totally annoying “loophole” primary (see Illinois Primary). They aren’t bound to their candidate.
  • Polling: Trump 42.8, Cruz 27, Kasich 24
  • Likely result: Trump wins the state and gets the 17 at-large delegates, but the district delegates will be a source of controversy between now and the convention. We can’t allocate them here.

Rhode Island (19 delegates)

  • 13 state-wide delegates, split proportionally to all candidate who earn 10 percent of the vote.
  • 2 districts worth 3 delegates each (6 total), also split proportionally to all candidate who earn 10 percent of the vote.
  • Polling: Trump was at 43 in February, with Rubio his closest competitor. Trump will win, unless Kasich decides to trek the tiny state for a week (which is what I would do).
  • Likely result: Proportional results will allow all candidates to earn delegates. Trump will get around half, Kasich most of the rest, Cruz 3.

Total estimated delegates for the rest of April (213 total delegates, NOT counting the awkward 54 Pennsylvania district delegates, which would only strengthen Trump’s estimates):

  • Trump: 90 in NY, 25 in CT, 16 in DE, 38 in MD, 17 in PA, 10 in RI = 196
  • Kasich: 2 in NY, 3 in CT, 0 in DE, 0 in MD, 0 in PA, 6 in RI = 11
  • Cruz: 3 in NY, 0 in CT, 0 in DE, 0 in MD, 0 in PA, 3 in RI = 6

With those estimates in mind, here’s a before and after of primary totals for this eight-day stretch, with percent of remaining delegates needed to secure 1,237 in parentheses:

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With just this six-primary stretch, Trump will position himself nicely for the last six weeks of primaries, needing less than half of remaining delegates. He’d need only 274 more delegates of the 626 remaining. Moreover, he’d have huge momentum after these victories, while his closest competitor would be mathematically eliminated from reaching 1,237 before the convention. Most voters still on the fence in the remaining contests would tilt toward Trump at that point. Plus, there are still a couple states he’s expected to win going away; West Virginia and New Jersey are still ahead, with New Jersey’s sizable 51-delegate haul being winner take-all, which we might as well add to his total right now. (FWIW: adding New Jersey would give him 1004 delegates with 575 remaining + uncommitted, meaning he only needs to win 40 percent of remaining delegates in the other contests, a considerably low number for the leader .)

With all this success, I expect him winning a plurality, and maybe a majority, of the 172 delegates from California (where he’s leading the polls) on June 7, which will act as his coronation. Even if he comes up a bit short, he would be able to wrangle some of the “Uncommitted” delegates that will help him go over the top on the first ballot.

If he were a stock, this is where you’d buy low. Starting with Tuesday’s New York Primary, it’s going to shoot through the roof. Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for President.

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