Donald Trump’s only shot at the GOP nomination is to win on the first ballot. Ted Cruz has been out-hustling him in county and state conventions. There is a growing number of delegates pledged to Trump on the first ballot, who will jump ship to Ted Cruz at the first opportunity.
Trump virtually needs to sweep New York to have any realistic chance of a first ballot majority. Today we get some regional polling to see if he can do it.
New York is a big state, and it’s Donald Trump’s home state. Ted Cruz was able to cash in big in Texas despite a five-way contest, six if you count Jeb Bush who had only just dropped out. John Kasich swept Ohio thanks to the winner-take-all rule there. Donald Trump has to run up the score now that it’s his turn, if he wants to hit the magic number of 1,237 pledged delegates. It’s his only way to get the nomination.
Kasich’s only hope is to stay in the race despite losing every time, and get Rule 40b* tossed out so that he can wriggle his way into a deal. Cruz’s strategy now is to get all the delegates he can, either pledged or unpledged and ready to vote for him on later ballots. Donald Trump however is going to peak on the first ballot. He needs New York!
And unfortunately for Trump, New York works like Texas, not like Ohio. He has to get over 50% in every Congressional district in the state if he wants to sweep. I said yesterday he was in freefall, and the new polls out since seem to confirm that. Unless he overperforms the polls, Trump is set to lose 9 or 10 delegates. That sounds small, but he’s already well behind the pace he needs for 1,237. New York is one of the few places left he has a good chance to catch up. And he’s not going to do it, according to the polls.
Where are those 9 or 10 delegates he’s set to lose? They’re upstate. Siena College and Quinnipiac University both have new polls out. They both agree Trump will cash in big in New York City, winning districts with few Republicans in them. There’s not much contest there, it seems.
The polls also agree upstate. Trump has fallen below the critical 50% line upstate in both polls (47-26 Quinnipiac, 48-25 Siena). That means either Cruz or Kasich is set to pick up a delegate in those districts. If he’s below 50 in all of them, then he loses about 10% of the delegates in the state. That’s not something Trump can afford!
The battleground, where the big swings are possible, is going to be in the NYC suburbs just up the Hudson, and further out on Long Island. The polls actually don’t agree here. Someone has to be wrong. Quinnipiac has Trump doing very well there, leading 63-19 over Cruz there. Siena though has it a contest for Trump to stay over 50. They have Trump up 52-32 there.
If Siena is right, and Kasich surges in the suburbs, while Cruz carries delegates upstate, Trump could lose another batch of delegates, and New York will be his Waterloo.
* Rule 40b says that if you don’t have a majority of delegates supporting you from 8 states, you aren’t even allowed to get votes on the floor. Kasich only has one state so far giving him a majority, so unless he can convince the Trump and Cruz delegates to back him and remove the rule, he’ll be shut out.