Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Math Shows that Trump Will Win Before the Convention

Donald Trump after winning Florida. The girl at the podium is not Marco Rubio. 

After the results of last night, a number of talking heads were predicting a brokered Republican convention. But given the delegate totals so far and the rules for delegate allocation in the upcoming states, it is difficult to see how this would happen. It is highly probable that Donald Trump will have enough delegates to win before the convention.

This assumes of course that Trump will continue to win at least a plurality of the votes in the upcoming primaries and caucuses. I think the indications and results so far show that Trump would do so even in a two-man race, but Kasich's win in Ohio, giving him grounds to stay in the running and thus making it a three-man race for the foreseeable future virtually guarantee that Trump will do so.

But partly due to the winner-take-all rules in many of the upcoming states, winning a plurality of votes is all that Trump will need to get the slight majority of delegates that he needs.

Here are the numbers:

Delegates Allocated:

Donald Trump: 685
Ted Cruz: 396
Marco Rubio: 168
John Kasich: 138
Others: 15

This assumes that Trump will eek out a narrow win in the winner-take-all state of Missouri (as is almost certain as of this writing) and includes the 12 delegates that Trump just won in the Marianas.

Delegates still available: 1,070
Delegates needed to clinch the nomination: 1,237
Additional delegates that Trump needs to clinch the nomination: 552
% of additional delegates that Trump needs to clinch the nomination: 51.5%

That 51.5% number is slightly higher than the 48.8% proportion of delegates that Trump has won so far. However, a large number of delegates in the remaining states will be allocated on either a winner-take-all basis (the winner of a plurality in the state gets all the delegates) or a winner-take-most basis (such as winner-take-all in each congressional district).

The upcoming winner-take-all states are Arizona, Delaware, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey and South Dakota, having a total of 217 delegates. It's quite likely that Trump will win all or most of these, increasing his total to 850-902. This would mean he would only would need 335 to 387 more or 39.3% to 45.4% of the delegates in the other states to win the nomination.

It is hard to imagine how Trump could fail to do this (again, assuming current campaign trends). For example, California and New York--two presumably strong Trump states--alone have 267 delegates that are allocated on a winner-take-most basis. It's plausible that he could pick up 80%+ of these.

The race isn't over. But it's almost over. The only way that I see a brokered convention happening is if something completely unexpected occurs--the most obvious thing being scandal or Trump self-combusting in some way. The prediction markets now have Trump at 75% to win the nomination, which is another way of saying there's a 25% self-combustion chance.

That sounds about right to me.


  1. Interesting and thoughtful analysis.

  2. It was amusing listening to Hugh Hewitt on the radio last night. It sounded like he was almost salivating with glee when news broke that Trump lost in Ohio.

  3. Good analysis Oakes. And here's the insurance policy. Since Trump and Cruz both despise the Republican establishment and do not want a brokered convention where they could lose, a deal will be made where Cruz will be the V.P. or some other high figure.

  4. The more he talks, the more Trump sounds like Mussolini. Ain't that wonderful??

    1. Well, I respectfully disagree. I'm more worried that he'll turn out to be more like Governor Schwarzenegger than like Il Duce. But the piece itself wasn't intended to be pro-Trump, rather just an analysis of the numbers.

    2. Trump clearly thinks he's leading a mob, given his "riots" chatter--and his complete disdain for the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Amendments--not to mention his total ignorance of Constitutional government--is not Mussolini?

      Who else? Al Capone?

    3. I'm sorry if I don't see it that way. His "riots" comment was I think metaphorical. I think there will be "riots" too, if the establishment tries to nominate someone else. But I don't think that makes me a shorter than average Italian. :)

      And of course the only candidate who has been a victim of REAL fascism is Trump, whose Chicago rally was broken up by violent hooligans. Since I live here, that hit home for me.

  5. Well, we have an interesting mob. One part is Alinsky-ite, the other part claims to be "R".

    But right-down to right-down, a mob is a mob is a mob.

    And, when the question is "What's best for America?" the answer is NotTrump.

  6. And.................not Hillary either. So we are left with? No way is Ted Cruz going to make it, and if we have a 'brokered' Convention and they pull dirty tricks and pull someone out of the hat to over.