This is a follow-up to Thomas Crown’s excellent “Vote for the Non-Crooks.”
First disclaimer: Polling is inexact and many of the polls we have are not as up-to-the-minute as we’d like. Furthermore, in many cases, the distance between candidates is within the margin of error.
In what follows, I’m relying on the RCP average point estimates, not because they’re infallible but because I don’t have anything better to go on.
Q: Why not just vote for whichever candidate is in 2nd?
A: It’s not a bad strategy, but many states impose minimum thresholds for awarding delegates. The upshot is that the more candidates clear the minimum threshold, the more proportional the delegate allocation. If you want to slow down Trump, more proportional is good.
For example, Alabama has 29 at-large delegates. If only Trump clears the 20% threshold, he gets all of those delegates.
AL: Rubio (20.3), Cruz (14.7). AL doesn’t have the biggest delegate haul, but it could produce a big Trump win if no other candidate cleared 20%.
AK: Cruz. There really isn’t much data, but what there is points to Cruz, and the threshold (13%) is pretty low.
AR: Either. No recent data. Cruz currently leads, but both Cruz and Rubio can make a case that the state is in play. And both look like they’ll clear 15%+ with ease.
GA: Either. Neither Rubio (21.8) nor Cruz (21.4) appear to be 100% safe to clear 20%. If you trust Cruz’s ground game, maybe Rubio? But that’s a huge if. I’ll stick with either.
MA: Carson(!). Yes, he’s hopelessly behind Rubio, Kasich, and Cruz. But none of those three are poised to catch Trump. It’s not going to make a yuge difference, but the more candidates that cross the 5% threshold, the better. If not Carson, then either. I don’t think Cruz (11.0) v Rubio (17.5) makes a bit of difference.
MN: Rubio. All polling in MN is old, but Rubio actually leads in the most recent poll, conducted in Jan, and demographics are favorable. Cruz looks safe to clear 10% threshold, so I’d go with the best chance to give Trump another loss to go along with TX. Knock on wood.
OK: Either. Both Cruz (22.7) and Rubio (21.3) look to be safe to finish above 15%.
TN: Either / Rubio. Only one semi-recent poll, and it’s pre-debate. Basically, the more candidates that clear 20%, the better. In that one poll, Rubio (19) was slightly more at risk than Cruz (22), but neither is a lock.
TX: Cruz. There might be a case to root for Rubio to clear the minimum threshold, but I’m going to dismiss it out of hand. Let’s not get too cutesy and outsmart ourselves.
VT: Rubio (17.0). I’m not optimistic about Cruz (11.0) or anyone else getting to 20%.
VA: Anyone. VA is pure proportional.
Any mistakes are purely unintentional, and corrections are appreciated.