The Battlefield, March 11, 2016 – Delegate Math

The conventional wisdom, particular coming out of last night’s GOP debate in which few bombs were thrown and a deficit of rhetorical punches were landed (it wasn’t a completely barren landscape, but given our expectations built on previous debates this was something of a gentlemanly discussion), is that Donald Trump is set to walk away with the Republican nomination.

Trump has a lead of some 100 delegates over Ted Cruz, and he’s probably going to win Florida and its 99 delegates (a couple of the latest polls there indicate a tightening race in which Marco Rubio has an outside shot at knocking him off). John Kasich may be in a position to top him in Ohio, but Trump appears the favorite in Illinois (Trump led Cruz 32-22 in the only poll released last week; Rubio was at 21) and North Carolina’s proportional contests (he has a 32-26 lead on Cruz in one poll from last week in North Carolina and a 41-27 lead in another). Ted Cruz is likely the winner of Missouri, the fifth state with a primary on Tuesday. The outcome of the March 15 contests is, in all likelihood, a greater delegate lead for Trump.

We don’t disagree with that likely outcome, but the conventional wisdom declaring an open road for Trump…that’s a different story.

Our buddy Ryan Booth did the math and came up with the conclusion, which he posted to Facebook, that even if Trump were to sweep Florida and Ohio and the other three on Tuesday, he’s still on a path well short of the 1237…

Here’s some math for the Chicken Littles. Donald Trump currently has 458 delegates committed to him. Suppose that Trump wins every state on Tuesday, a clean sweep. That would bring the number of his committed delegates to 791, which is not very close to the 1237 needed to win.

After losing both Ohio and Florida, Kasich and Rubio drop out. Since, according to two new polls out this week, Ted Cruz beats Donald Trump nationally head-to-head by a margin of 14 or 17 points, Cruz starts winning. And most of the states at that point are winner-take-all.
Even if we then give Donald Trump half of the delegates from the remaining proportional states, he ends up with 926, which is not nearly enough for the nomination. Even if Trump, who has shown strength in the Northeast, were to (for example) win Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania, that would still only get him to 1051. Let’s say that, in a huge shocker, Trump even wins California, which would get him to 1223. That still wouldn’t be enough.

And the truth is that, if Cruz is up 14-17 points on Trump in a head-to-head matchup, then Cruz would win the average state by 20 points, because Cruz has consistently outperformed his polling so far, because he’s got a great campaign organization driving turnout. It would actually be unlikely for Trump to win much of anywhere in a head-to-head battle with Cruz.

Conclusion: even if Donald Trump were to win every state on Tuesday the 15th, Ted Cruz is the most likely GOP nominee. Trump actually has a poor chance (at best) to be the nominee.

Trump is probably your winner in New York and New Jersey, though New York is a closed winner-take-most primary in which 81 of its 95 delegates are awarded from results in its 27 congressional districts in a very similar fashion to the delegate allocation in Louisiana, so a smart campaign strategy there could produce wins and rack up delegates in a lot of heavily-Democrat congressional districts where a little ground game could go a long way. New Jersey is a winner-take-all state and it’s open to independents with 51 delegates at stake.

So Ryan could well be wrong in saying Trump tops out at 1223. New York and New Jersey would carry him past that number. On the other hand, if the primary in California, which like New Jersey takes place on June 7, is decisive in the delegate math that’s not a cinch for Trump. We have little to go on, since there hasn’t been a poll in California in three months, but the last Field poll of that state had Cruz ahead of Trump 25-23. Now Cruz has Carly Fiorina’s endorsement, and assumedly it would be a two-man race by June 7. It’s anything but a bad bet to think Cruz would win California and its 172 delegates.

And considering that Cruz might reel Trump in in North Carolina and/or Illinois and seems to be in position to possibly win Missouri, the 257 delegates from those three states might well divide in Cruz’ favor. They’re all proportional states to some extent or another.

Meaning that this race is nowhere near over regardless of what happens March 15. The real question is whether Kasich and Rubio stick around, because if Cruz can get to the head-to-head race by April Fool’s Day, he’s as likely as Trump, if not more, to win it.

Simplistic-Weapon-12-Battle-Axes-in-Saltire – About last night’s debate, this was our favorite moment – and apparently the favorite moment of a lot of people…

This was good as well.

And Rubio’s moment on Cuba was terrific.

I did a full writeup on the debate late last night for The American Spectator.

Simplistic-Weapon-12-Battle-Axes-in-SaltireThis is something everyone should read, because it’s a solid diagnosis of why Trump has had such success. The think-tank crowd on the GOP side has had a massive blind spot when it comes to small-town America and poor white people, and in its rush to compete with the Democrats for black and Hispanic voters (many of whom have concerns that are little different than those of poor whites in Appalachia and elsewhere) it has thoroughly ignored a massive bloc of voters who are now powering Trump’s campaign.

And the fact that Trump is the only one who has taken pains to reach out to these people is why they are so loyal to him despite the manifest evidence calling into doubt the idea Trump will actually do much of anything to better their station.

My Republican friends are for Trump. My state representative is for Trump. People who haven’t voted in years are for Trump. He’ll win the primary here on March 15 and he will carry this county in the general.

His supporters realize he’s a joke. They do not care. They know he’s authoritarian, nationalist, almost un-American, and they love him anyway, because he disrupts a broken political process and beats establishment candidates who’ve long ignored their interests.

When you’re earning $32,000 a year and haven’t had a decent vacation in over a decade, it doesn’t matter who Trump appoints to the U.N., or if he poisons America’s standing in the world, you just want to win again, whoever the victim, whatever the price.

Trump won’t win the presidency, of course. If he’s nominated conservatives will walk out of the Cleveland convention in July and run a third ticket candidate, and there are not enough disaffected white males in Pennsylvania or Ohio to make up for the independent women who would vote for Hillary Clinton in November. But the two parties can no longer afford to ignore Trump’s America.

To win again in the Deep South and Appalachia, the Democratic Party must recall the days of Roosevelt’s New Deal and Kennedy’s New Frontier by putting people to work rebuilding America, and making college free after two years of national service.

Trump’s appeal as a strongman reveals the desire in Middle America for public action. His supporters want healthcare, like Social Security and are frustrated by the gridlock on Capitol Hill, so they must return to the days of Eisenhower, standing for conservative principles but also compromising when possible.

As productivity climbed, working-class Americans wanted their wages to rise also. Instead, Republicans gave them tax cuts for the rich while liberal Democrats called them racists and bigots.

The single most efficacious thing the GOP could do to help the white working class, and as it happens by doing this the party would help the black and Hispanic working classes as well, would be to tighten immigration and create a tighter labor market that forced wages to rise. And the first candidate who addresses the issue on these terms – not as a function of xenophobia or racism, but as simple economics and a recognition that pure supply and demand would dictate that higher wages would solve an enormous amount of the country’s problems.

You wouldn’t run on it, but the quiet deal that would be struck with the corporate crowd which has fought to keep the borders open and labor costs minimal is a sizable cut in the corporate income tax. While the Left screams and yells about cheating corporations who don’t pay those taxes, the winning argument holds that having the world’s highest corporate income tax holds wages down and incentivizes big companies to do as much business as possible overseas and then keep the profits overseas. Cutting that tax burden will lessen the demand to drive maximum corporate profit margins – a 20 percent profit margin taxed at 15 percent is greater than a 25 percent margin taxed at 35 percent – and free up dollars which could be spent on new jobs and higher wages, not to mention dividends for small investors. All of those factors lead to greater economic growth, something it’s been seven years since we’ve seen.

And that’s why you have so many disaffected and angry Trump voters. Like the author of that US News piece says, they want to win again and they see nothing but losses because of the Obama stagnation.

Simplistic-Weapon-12-Battle-Axes-in-Saltire – And now, Blue Monday by New Order, the ultimate electronic/techno song, played using only instruments available in 1933…

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