By Eduardo Suárez, @eduardosuarez (*)
Donald Trump won more delegates that any other candidate in voting across a dozen states on Super Tuesday but he still has a long way to go to secure the Republican nomination.
He remains the undisputed favorite to secure the Republican nomination but he is rejected by an important segment of conservative voters as well as the party’s establishment. These are the obstacles Trump must overcome in order to win:
Trump won in seven states on Super Tuesday but so far the delegates won have been distributed proportionately by each state. As the primary contest moves into the next phase the stakes get higher as delegates are awarded by each state on a winner-take-all basis.
The graph below explains the rules in each state. All except two include thresholds of 15% or 20% to secure delegates. Candidates falling below those figures are not allocated delegates.
These thresholds were a serious problem for Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who ended up failing to win delegates in Texas, Alabama or Vermont. That hurt his campaign, especially as Texas allocates more delegates – 155 - than in any other Super Tuesday state.
John Kasich and Ben Carson failed to win a single state and Carson now appears to be on the verge of quitting the race. Rubio did manage one win in Minnesota and came close to beating Trump in Virginia, but he ended up the evening’s big loser. Ted Cruz won in three states, including the big prize of his home state of Texas, reinforcing his claim to be the only candidate with the potential to beat Trump.
The victory in Minnesota is a minor trophy and will not serve to comfort those around Rubio, who must now focus on winning in Florida: a winner-takes-all state where Trump is currently heavily favored in the polls.
The good news for Rubio is that his defeat in Virginia earned him a good share of delegates. As Nate Silver explains below, getting one delegate less than Trump has hardly cost him anything.
That 4% Rubio trails by in VA is hugely important for the media narrative and hugely unimportant for delegate math. https://t.co/7EtKn6CEkd— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) March 2, 2016
So, while Super Tuesday increased Trump’s lead over his rivals, he remains far short of the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination and only leads Cruz by 124 delegates. While Rubio languishes well behind in third place he is only 198 delegates behind, a margin he could cut in half by winning all of Florida’s 99 delegates.
Allocation of delegates after Super Tuesday: The winner must obtain 1,237 delegates by the time the last of the Republican primaries take place on June 7th.
This other chart helps one to understand the extent to which the Republican race remains open. All the candidates fall far short of having the necessary delegates for being nominated at the convention.
Delegates needed by each candidate in order to become the Republican candidate
The decisive date for the Republican primaries will be March 15 th. By the time voting is done that day we’ll know whether Trump’s march to the nomination is unstoppable, or if one of his rivals still stands any chance of catching him in a long race. In the meantime, Republicans are also voting in eight other states, plus Puerto Rico and Washington, DC.
This Saturday primaries will be held in Louisiana, and caucuses in Maine, Kansas and Kentucky, with a total of 155 delegates. The latter two are states leaning toward Cruz and Rubio, and the first two are places where Trump is likely to win. On the following day, voting takes place in Puerto Rico, where Rubio is the indisputable favorite, despite his refusal to offer a financial bailout to the island.
On Tuesday, March 8, primaries will be held in Idaho, Michigan and Mississippi, and a caucus in Hawaii, with another 150 delegates at stake. Michigan is considered a key indicator as it is first state in the industrial Midwest to vote and will measure the strength of Kasich, the governor of neighboring Ohio.
Seven days later, the vote will be in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina: five states that bestow all their delegates to the winner. In theory, Trump could clinch the nomination that day, but to do so he would need to defeat both Kasich and Rubio in their own states, as well as preventing Cruz from pulling off a surprise somewhere else. It is a battle being waged on several fronts but Trump has a notable advantage: the anti-Trump vote continues to be divided by the other candidates, principally Cruz and Rubio.
The New York property tycoon’s rivals still have two debates and millions of dollars in negative political announcements that will flood the media in upcoming primary states.
In short, there’s still two weeks left to stop Trump.
(*) This article was originally published on the Pol16