Trump is not in as good a position as many in the media would like you to believe. Yes, he’s winning the overall delegate count with 384 according to the latest numbers from Politico. The problem is that his opponents have 508. He needs 1,237 to win the nomination. That’s 50%+1 of the total number of delegates. I’ve included a detailed breakdown below.
If no one reaches that threshold, bound delegates become unbound. This is important because states that allocate their delegates based on primary results only require their delegates to vote in line with those results on the first ballot.
My state, Washington, is a perfect example. Its delegates have to vote proportionally for the winner of the May primary on the first ballot. The delegates themselves are voted for through the WSRP’s caucus process. Local caucuses were sparsely attended and by all reports, including my own, dominated by Rubio and Cruz supporters. Even if Trump wins our state in May, those delegates will flock to other candidates if the nominating process goes to a second ballot.
Trump has done poorly in states that allocate their delegates through the caucus process. In states where caucus attendance seemingly doesn’t matter he will have even fewer supporters. This is why he doesn’t have a realistic path to the nomination after the first ballot.
The other important factor in all of this is the automatic delegates to the national convention. There are 163 of them. They are state party chairs and national committee members. This group is not going to be friendly to Trump. For the purpose of my analysis below I allocated 30 to Trump and 133 to other candidates. I think that’s a reasonable assumption.
According to my analysis below, Trump needs 57.9% of the remaining delegates. That’s certainly not impossible with many states being winner take all. But it may be difficult. For Trump foes, a unity ticket or two drop outs might be the best option, but it may not be necessary before the national convention.
March 15th will be especially important. This is the first day where we have winner take all states. Two of those states are Florida and Ohio, Rubio and Kasich’s home states. Both are winner take all states, 166 delegates in total. If Republicans opposed to Trump coalesce in these states, and Trump loses, his path becomes much steeper. It remains to be seen how pragmatic supporters of the other two candidates in each state will be.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of delegates:
Needed to win the nomination 1,237
Trump – 384
Other candidates -508
There are 163 automatic delegates (state party chairs, national committee men and women)
If Trump wins 30 of those delegates:
Trump – 414
Other candidates – 641
There are 1,585 remaining before automatic delegates are allocated, 1422 remaining after
Trump needs 823 of the 1,422 remaining, or 57.9%
About the author:
Adam Isackson has been involved with Republican politics since 1998. He has worked for numerous political organizations and managed more than a half dozen campaigns. Several were key state legislative races, including now Senator Jan Angel’s special election victory in 2013 that solidified the Republican dominated Majority Coalition in the Washington State Senate. He lives in Gig Harbor, WA. He can be contacted at [email protected] .