Or perhaps I should say “momentum” in scare quotes. For that, I suspect, is what Donald Trump has now: “momentum,” in quotes.
More on that in a moment. First, a word or two about the math. According to the current RCP delegate count, Trump now has 661 delegates, a little more than half the 1237 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination. Cruz has 406.
661 – 406 = 255
Hmmm. But note that Rubio, who finally dropped out last night after his humiliating defeat in his home state of Florida, has 169. Tigger, aka John Kasich, has 142. John Kasich apparently hasn’t yet acknowledged it, but this is now (and has been for a while) a two-man race. More math.
406 + 169+ 142 = 717
Which leads us to:
717 > 661
i.e., hope for Ted Cruz.
At least, that’s how I see it, and how the Cruz campaign also is reported to see it.
“Throughout this race,” Daniel Horowitz writes at Conservative Review, “the polls and exit polls have consistently shown that Cruz would beat Trump head-to-head in almost every state, winning by wide margins in many of them. In most states Trump has a floor of about 35-38%, but he has an impervious ceiling in the low 40s.” Which means, Horowitz continues, that in a two-man race, “Cruz should be able to catch Trump in delegates and very likely come close to the magic number of 1,237.”
Not that it is going to be easy:
While it will be tough to win an outright majority of delegates, he would have a great path to winning a plurality and coming into a convention with the mandate of winning more delegates, and most of the key states in the second half of the primary.
To be clear, there is no way to predict what will happen a week from now, let alone in the June 7 primaries. But based on the assumption that Cruz leads Trump nationally by a wide margin in a two-man race, here is a plausible outcome that will win Cruz a majority of the delegates, factoring in the allocation rules of each state — when we wake up on June 8: Cruz 1239, Trump 987, and roughly 250 for other candidates.
Is that how things will shake out? Obviously there are a lot of uncertainties. For the next little while — or to be precise, until March 22, when Arizona and Utah vote — we’ll be hearing a lot from the media (and from the Trump campaign) about how he has “momentum” and is therefore unstoppable.
Trump is eminently stoppable. In this very odd election year, one question going forward is whether John Kasich can add. If he can, he’ll realize that the only likely chance of averting the disaster that is Donald Trump is to pit Ted Cruz against Trump in a two-man race. The sooner he acknowledges that and bows out, the better.