I am a Rubio critic, however, I previously have not called on him to pull out before Florida. My thinking was that even if Cruz lost Florida and Ohio, there were still plenty of contests remaining for Cruz to win on first ballot. This is still the case, HOWEVER, there is a better opportunity here—if Rubio drops out.
So many people, including myself, have been focused on Florida and Ohio and their 99 and 66 delegates.
Our thinking has been wrong.
Missouri and Illinois and their 121 delegates are awarded on the same day as Florida and Ohio. These are WINNER TAKE ALL STATES! (by congressional district) with 52 and 69 delegates. These 121 delegates matter.
With Rubio in the race, Trump may win not only Florida and Ohio, but also Missouri and Illinois.
Without Rubio in the race:
- Cruz should easily win Missouri (52 delegates)
Cruz likely wins Illinois (Current poll in Illinois: Trump 32, Rubio 21, Cruz 22, Kasich 18)
Ohio becomes much more likely to be won by Kasich. (Current poll: Trump 38, Kasich 35, Cruz 15, Rubio 5)
It then becomes a head to head race a few weeks later with the key winner take all states of Pennsylvania, Indiana, Nebraska. Trump will win NY, NJ, and Maryland, but Cruz will be ahead in the delegate count if he wins Pennsylvania. Then comes California.