The State of the 2016 Election

The Trump and Clinton trains keep on chuggin’

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives for a primary night press conference at the Mar-A-Lago Club's Donald J. Trump Ballroom March 15, 2016 in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump won the state of Florida and Ohio Gov. John Kasich won the state of Ohio.

Donald Trump arrives for a primary night press conference on March 15 in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump won the state of Florida and Ohio Gov. John Kasich won the state of Ohio. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

If you had told me a month ago that Ohio Gov. John Kasich would be in the final 3 for the Republican primary, I would have laughed in your face.

If you had told me a month ago that Mr. Kasich would outlast Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in the GOP primary, I would have laughed in your face.

Yet here we are.

Mr. Rubio was trounced—trounced!—in his home state of Florida, losing to business mogul Donald Trump by nearly 20 points and 440,000 votes. And it wasn’t even that Mr. Rubio lost his own home state, it’s that the media called the loss immediately when the polls closed. There was no wait-and-see moment as the polls tightened. It was clear before the polls even closed that Mr. Trump ran away with the state’s 99 delegates. Mr. Rubio suspended his campaign shortly after.

We are now left with three Republican candidates: Mr. Trump, Mr. Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Mr. Trump won four out of the five states that held primaries on Tuesday. Mr. Kasich won one—his home state of Ohio. He won it by 11 points and 230,000 votes. In Illinois, Mr. Trump ran away with 49 of the state’s 69 delegates, with nine going to Mr. Cruz, four going to Mr. Kasich and the rest to be decided at the convention.

Missouri has awarded Mr. Trump 15 of its 52 delegates, but the difference between Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz’s winning percentage is so close that a recount appears likely. And in North Carolina, Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz nearly split the winning delegates, 29 and 27, respectively, with Mr. Kasich taking nine and Mr. Rubio taking six.

After Super Tuesday Part Three, the delegate count is as follows: Mr. Trump, 661; Mr. Cruz, 409; Mr. Rubio, 169; Mr. Kasich, 142. This means that Mr. Trump needs 53 percent of all remaining delegates to secure the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination. Mr. Cruz needs 77 percent of the remaining delegates and Mr. Kasich needs 101 percent of the remaining delegates (yes, you read that right, it is mathematically impossible for Mr. Kasich to win enough delegates in the remaining primaries to secure the nomination.)

So where does that leave the nomination? The short answer is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

The long answer that the Trump Train keeps on chugging, but we won’t know for sure whether he will get enough delegates to secure the nomination before June 7. If he can’t, which is a possibility even with Mr. Rubio out of the race and no longer playing the spoiler, then the GOP heads to a contested convention. There, delegates are bound to vote for who won their district on the first ballot, but after that, delegates can vote for whomever they want.

If Mr. Trump shows up to the convention with more delegates than anyone, but fewer than 1,237, he could, in theory, lose the nomination. But his supporters would, rightly, not be too happy about someone who didn’t win the most delegates ending up as the nominee. Where we are at this moment, however, Mr. Trump is the only candidate who would be eligible, since he so far is the only one who has won a majority of delegates from at least eight states. That is the Republican National Committee’s Rule 40, which states that a candidate must “demonstrate the support of a majority of the delegates from each of eight (8) or more states, severally, prior to the presentation of the name of that candidate for nomination.”

Mr. Cruz, though he has won at least eight states or territories, has not won the majority of delegates in all of those states. He has only won the majority in four. For Mr. Kasich, he can stay in a little longer and hope to keep some delegates away from Mr. Trump, as he may be the new Establishment choice with Mr. Rubio out of the picture. But it is hard to imagine what other states Mr. Kasich could possibly win (maybe Wisconsin or Indiana?) going forward. There certainly aren’t enough states left that he could win a majority of and be considered in a contested convention. At this point he’s just hoping for a Vice President or cabinet selection.

On the Democrat side (can’t forget about them!), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues on track to secure the nomination. She won four out of five states on Tuesday (Missouri, again, was so close there might be a recount) picking up 364 delegates to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 264. In two states—Illinois and Missouri—Ms. Clinton split delegates with Mr. Sanders.

As it stands now, Ms. Clinton has 1,132 pledged delegates and Mr. Sanders has 818. The Democratic primary is working differently than the Republican Primary, in that superdelegates (delegates not bound by the people’s will) make up 30 percent of the total delegates. And those superdelegates are going for Ms. Clinton in droves. So far 467 superdelegates have aligned with Ms. Clinton, compared to 26 aligning with Mr. Sanders. That brings Ms. Clinton’s total delegates to 1,599 and Mr. Sanders’ total delegates to 844. They need 2,383 to secure the nomination.

At this rate, Ms. Clinton needs about 34 percent of the remaining delegates to secure the nomination, while Mr. Sanders needs 66 percent. That’s a high bar for Mr. Sanders to clear, but not impossible. He obviously has a better chance of being the Democratic nominee than Mr. Kasich has of being the Republican nominee. So that’s where we are: Mr. Rubio is out, and the GOP appears headed for a contested convention. Meanwhile, Ms. Clinton looks poised to be the Democratic nominee in November.

Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.

The State of the 2016 Election