This AP story about Trump’s path to the nomination is getting some attention:
A close look at the delegate math illustrates Trump’s problem. So far Trump has won only 46 percent of the delegates that have been awarded, even though he has won 10 of the first 15 contests. It takes an outright majority of delegates to win the nomination.
Going forward, Trump would have to win 52 percent of the remaining delegates to claim the nomination. That’s doable but difficult with three or more candidates claiming delegates.
This is an example of ignoring the elephant in the room, which in this case is winner-take-all primaries. The Republican schedule is backloaded with 15 of them, many of which are in big states. Let’s do a little simple math and see why all the talk of a brokered convention is so much horseshit.
Based on this table at Real Clear Politics (and who would know the rules better than them?), I put together this spreadsheet [link to a Google sheet]. It’s based on a few simple assumptions that we can all argue:
- Trump will continue to collect delegates in proportional races at the same percentage he has in the past (about 44%). Since Trump’s support in the Republican race is growing, and since there are states with thresholds and other obscure machinery that could award him more delegates to the top finishers, this is a pretty conservative estimate.
- Trump will win all the winner-take-all primaries except for Ohio, Kasich’s home state.
- Any contest where the delegates are unbound (112 delegates) is fodder for a floor fight, so those don’t count towards anyone’s totals. This assumption doesn’t matter because the rat pack of Cruz, Rubio and Kasich will keep fighting for scraps, so none of them will end up anything near Trump’s total.
Unsurprisingly, since the primaries are set up so that the leader of the pack can clean up in the later parts of the race, Trump goes into the convention with 1,472 delegates in this scenario. That’s 239 more than he needs. And Cruz and Rubio combined only get to about half of the 1,237 delegates needed to win.
I threw this model together in 10 minutes this morning, so it is crude. But it’s probably good enough for the purpose at hand, which is to show that anyone talking about a brokered convention or a Cruz/Rubio ticket needs to show why Trump will shit the bed in a pretty spectacular fashion in the next couple of months.