Can Trump get to 1237 without Indiana?

Sen. Cruz addresses a crowd in Iowa.

Sen. Cruz addresses a crowd in Iowa.

In a surprising move, the Kasich and Cruz campaigns announced on Sunday evening that Kasich would cede Indiana, clearing the path for Cruz to take on Trump one-on-one in the state. In return, the Cruz campaign promised to cede New Mexico and Oregon to Kasich.

How much of an effect, however, does this have on Trump’s chances of reaching 1237 delegates?

Whilst a recent Fox News poll suggested that Trump and Cruz would be effectively tied in Indiana if it came down to a one-on-one contest, let’s assume that this move by Cruz and Kasich results in Cruz winning Indiana and most of its 57 delegates. It is worth noting that this is a big if.

Can Trump then get to 1237 delegates?

Trump currently has 845 pledged delegates.

If he has a good day on Tuesday, as discussed in an earlier post, Trump could pick up another 111 pledged delegates taking him to 956 pledged delegates.

If Trump wins New Jersey on June 7 that would take him to 1007 delegates.

The latest polls out of California also contained very good news for Donald Trump. The two most recent polls have Trump at 49% in the state. With those numbers Trump could rack up more than 140 delegates in California (and possibly close to 172). Let’s assume he walks away from California with 139 delegates (i.e. he loses 11 congressional districts). That takes Trump to 1146 delegates.

He will need 91 more to secure the nomination on the first ballot. Where do they come from?

Let’s assume Trump picks up approximately 15 delegates in West Virginia. That takes him to 1161. 

If Trump does well in Pennsylvania, 40 of the 54 unbound delegates may support him on the first ballot. That takes him to 1201. 

If Trump picks up 15 delegates in Washington, 12 in Oregon and 10 in New Mexico, he would finish up with 1238 delegates and thus secure the nomination.

There are several caveats to this analysis:

  • Trump may only walk away from the NorthEast primary with 85-100 delegates if his campaign underperforms their best-case scenario.
  • The California primary is over a month away. There are no guarantees current polling will hold and its possible that Trump would well under or overperform the 139 we have tentatively provided him in this analysis.
  • We have assumed he receives no delegates in Indiana. There is a good chance he is able to carry at least a couple of the congressional districts even if Cruz takes the statewide vote. I.e. See Wisconsin!
  • It has been suggested that at least 80 of Rubio’s delegates will now be unbound on the first ballot. They may come under pressure to support Trump.
  • Unbound delegates from North Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa who have previously suggested they would support Cruz or another candidate may change their minds and support Trump on the first ballot.

What’s clear, however, is that preventing Trump from winning Indiana is not a golden bullet that will ensure he fails to secure the nomination. Indiana is one piece of a very large puzzle.

Indeed, it is likely a more sophisticated Cruz-Kasich alliance is needed. For example, Kasich may have to cede California to Cruz and Cruz may need to give Kasich a clear shot in New Jersey. The problem with this suggestion is the California’s delegates are bound on the second ballot and so are eminently more valuable than those up for grabs in Indiana. Additionally, it is not clear that Cruz has a lot to cede in New Jersey.

Additionally, this plan could backfire. It is not clear that Kasich voters find Cruz eminently preferable to Trump. Not to mention this gives Trump’s claims the election is being “rigged” a little more oomph. We’ll have to wait and see what happens come May 3!


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