Trump has momentum. Cruz had a big night. Rubio remains competitive. Even John Kasich may be needed to stop the Trump train.
Because delegates are awarded proportionately, here are the updated delegate totals after yesterday’s results:
Donald Trump: 316
Ted Cruz: 226
Marco Rubio: 106
John Kasich: 25
Ben Carson: 8
As you can see, this is still a race. Don’t let the media tell you otherwise.
There is no denying that Donald Trump had a solid night. He won 7 states, including some by a wide margin. But he was clobbered by Cruz in Texas, and barely defeated a surging Rubio in Virginia. Cruz also won Oklahoma and Alaska while Rubio easily won Minnesota. In other words, Trump came within 3 points of losing six states…
As our graphic above shows, the delegate race remains wide open. Here’s another way to think of it: Trump 316, Rubio/Cruz 332.
Of course all of this math is meaningless if Trump is victorious in the ‘winner-take-all’ states, especially the upcoming big prizes of Florida and Ohio. The magic number is 1237. That’s the number of delegates needed to secure a majority and win the Republican nomination. If no candidate secures 1,237 delegates during the primaries, the GOP nomination will be decided at the Republican National Convention in July — where anything can happen.
So here is our take:
Polling continues to show Trump losing to Hillary, and in some cases losing badly. The latest CNN poll shows Hillary beating him by 8 points! Trump’s high negative ratings could also doom GOP chances at holding the Senate and even imperil the majority in the House of Representatives.
Our calculus is based on slowing Trump, while allowing a Trump alternative to emerge as the consensus pick later in the primary season and defeat him at the Convention.
Just weeks ago it was assumed that a one-on-one battle between Trump and one other candidate was the best chance at stopping Trump. But today it looks like having three challengers to Trump scrambling all over the country for at least the next 2 weeks may be the best plan for now.
Here’s how it could play out:
John Kasich looks to have the best chance of winning Ohio, better than both Cruz or Rubio. While the Kasich path to the nomination remains a longshot, a victory by him in Ohio takes a big win away from Trump. Meanwhile, Rubio must fight like mad to win in Florida where recent polling shows him trailing.
With Super Tuesday behind us, the race moves to the Midwest and the Northeast, places where Rubio and Kasich did well last night. Kasich almost won Vermont, and Rubio won Minnesota. Maine and Kansas vote in 3 days, and Michigan votes in 6 days. After that, it’s Ohio and Illinois on March 15. Donald Trump has fared the worst in the Midwest, as Iowa and Minnesota prove.
For this reason, CV is not prepared to endorse a candidate at this time. The case for a multi-candidate field, at least for the next 2 weeks, appears to be the best way to stop Trump. This theory is backed up by neutral political observers like Nathan Gonzalez at Roll Call. Very soon we will have to unite. Just not yet…
The truth is neither Cruz, Rubio or Kasich have demonstrated the ability to unite the party so far. But collectively, they can slow Trump and allow Republican voters a chance to determine who among them is the best option to rally behind and defeat Hillary. A rush to consolidate the field at this point only benefits Trump.
Another GOP debate will be held tomorrow night in Detroit where Trump will likely be tag teamed again by Rubio and Cruz. The tough questions about Trump raised by Rubio and Cruz only started in earnest last Thursday, while anti-Trump Super PACs are preparing for a massive barrage of ads warning Republican voters of Trump’s negatives. There is a reason why yesterday wasn’t a total rout by Donald Trump. Over 60% of Republicans oppose him.
And a majority of delegates are still up for grabs.
Keep praying and talking to your friends and family.
This ain’t over yet.