1,237 is the definitive requisite of “bound delegates” at which the head of the Republican Party is decided outright before the convention. Optimists in the Trump camp still think he has a chance at such a decisive victory, but following his recent defeats his 758 along with recent polls suggest this is increasingly unlikely. Opponents, in what can only really be called the anti-Trump camp, are hoarding their optimism for the Republican convention believing the vote will be close enough to legitimately and effectively persuade enough unbound delegates for an inconclusive first ballot. This is important because bound delegates from 31 states then become unbound in the second ballot (as do delegates from a further 7 states should there be a third ballot). This is why Kasich – with less than a fifth of Trump’s delegates and still less than former candidate Rubio – is still running.
Next week’s contest in New York for 95 delegates is an important one in which Trump is expected to come out on top, but the greatest focus in the coming months will be on Indiana (which Trump now looks less likely to claim) and the populous California on the final day of the Republican Primaries. With 729 bound delegates still in contestation many psephologists now expect Trump to capture around 1150-1180 bound delegates. Even then the chance for a Kasich/Cruz-Convention-conjuration relies on a few atypical but quite likely outcomes. First if Trump’s tally is only slightly deficient, unbound delegates following their state’s preference (as is typical) may be enough for him to cross the line; but given Trump’s polar support this may not necessarily be the case still leaving him short. Also the 187 delegates bound to candidates no longer running seem more likely to support Cruz or Kasich in a second ballot. (Another interesting quirk is that campaigners who win the choice of bound delegates, even though they lost the slots, can pick supporters of a different candidate who could also get the opportunity to revert).
Following New York (95 bound delegates) on Tuesday 19th primaries are still to be held in: Pennsylvania (17 +54 unbound some of whom may pledge an affinity in order to garner support), Maryland (38), Connecticut (28), Rhode Island (19), and Delaware (16) all on the 26th; then Indiana (57) on the 3rd May; Nebraska (36) and West Virginia (34) on the 10th; Oregon (28) on the 17th; Washington (44) on the 24th; and finally on 7th June California (172), New Jersey (51), South Dakota (29), Montana (27) and New Mexico (24). One particularly helpful source for updates and details on polling and conventions is renowned data journalist Nate Silver. Founder of FiveThirtyEight, a revered political blog, Mr. Silver correctly predicted all 50 US states in the 2012 presidential election. Now he along with a team of experts and numerous polls outline their projections for each primary as well as the many oddities which together could still easily sway the race.
FiveThirtyEight highlight how Indiana may “end Trump’s winning streak as the Republican contest moves out of the Northeast”. Their statewide and district delegates are winner-takes-all and the recent Wisconsin results indicate that even the middling estimates for Trump support in the Midwest are overstated. But there is no polling data for the state and the allocation method could prove erratic. If Trump manages to win big in New York focus will shift to Indiana where Trump will have to tip the scales to win a majority on the 3rd May. If he succeeded there all eyes will be on California on the 7th June where everything could still be all to play for. If he falls at any of these hurdles then we may find that The Party Decides a slightly less bombastic candidate at the Republican Convention on 18th July. At least we look likely to have another 3 months of reality entertainment along with the uncertainty as the competing rhetoric and emotions thicken.