Sunday, March 6, 2016

Trump vs. Political Science: The state of the conflict after yesterday

Before the returns came in yesterday, I pointed out how the results could shift the race.  Someone needed to cut significantly into Trump's leads in Louisiana and Kentucky.  Cruz did.  Trump under-performed  in those states, while Cruz won Kansas by a large margin, along with Maine.

Where does this leave things?  Trump is still way ahead.  In order for Trump to lose, Cruz has to take yesterday's victories and cut deeply into Trump's leads both nationwide, and in the upcoming March 15 contests.  Trump is beatable in Ohio.  The only recent poll here puts Trump just a few points ahead of Kasich.  The problems are in the rest of the states.  Trump is way ahead of Rubio in Florida.  If Rubio drops out, endorses Cruz and gets his supporters to vote for Cruz en masse, then maybe Trump loses there, and you've got a race, but that still leaves other big states, like North Carolina, where Trump has a 10 point lead, and Illinois, where he has a 15 point lead.

And all of this still leaves a basic problem.  In order for Trump to lose the nomination, Cruz will still have to take a delegate lead over Trump.  As I explained in a previous post, even if nobody wins an out-right majority, if the top two delegate-holders are 1) Trump and 2) Cruz, the likely result is a Trump/Cruz ticket, and any shenanigans at the convention leading to another result would re-create Chicago in 1968.

So, we are back to these possibilities:

1)  Trump gets an out-right majority in delegates.  This is still likely.

2)  Cruz overtakes Trump, and gets an out-right majority.  Cruz gets the nomination.  Very unlikely.

3)  Trump keeps the delegate lead, but he needs Cruz's delegates to get over 50%.  Plausible, and leads to a Trump/Cruz ticket, as I explained earlier.

4)  Cruz overtakes Trump, but doesn't reach 50%.  Trump would never accept a VP slot.  The convention would have a hard time nominating someone other than the delegate leader (Cruz), but also have a hard time nominating Cruz, because, well, he's Ted Cruz and pretty much everyone in the party hates him.  Not very plausible, but entertainingly chaotic, as long as they don't burn down my city in July.  And Trump winds up running as an independent anyway, handing the White House to Hillary.

So, Trump is still the heavy favorite to win the nomination, with Cruz a distant second.  However, Trump's losing scenario has gone from the "dead girl/live boy" scenario to a more standard Rick Perry-type flameout.

Of course, what really matters to me is that The Party Decides is still wrong.  I really don't like that book.

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