Ted Cruz has been mathematically eliminated from any possibility of winning the GOP presidential nomination on the first ballot. Donald Trump is now the only candidate capable of bringing together enough delegates to win the nomination on the first round, that’s according to the Associated Press.
Cruz was shut out of any possibility of a first round win when Donald Trump swept five states on Tuesday. There are no longer enough delegates to get either Cruz or Kasich to a first ballot nomination. A week earlier Trump swept up eighty-nine of ninety-five delegates from his home state of New York. Beyond the numbers there seems to be a sense that Republican voters, perhaps reluctantly, are starting to rally to Trump.
Trump’s biggest delegate haul Tuesday was Pennsylvania where a majority of the state’s fifty four unbound delegates pledged their support to Trump and more could follow after the billionaire’s impressive win in the Keystone State. The extra delegates will actually make Trump’s march to 1,237 that much easier. According to the Associated Press Delegate Tracker Trump only needs another 250 delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot. There are 502 delegates up for grabs in the ten remaining states. That means Trump only has to collect just over half the remaining delegates to become the GOP presidential nominee.
The math doesn’t deter the Cruz campaign, which Wednesday announced his running mate would be Carly Fiorina. That in spite of finishing not second, but third in four out five of Tuesday’s primaries. The move is equally strange that, in an effort to arrest his downward trajectory, that he would pick a running mate who was one of the first to be edged out of the race and doesn’t have a large base of voter support.
Privately many Cruz supporters applaud the choice but also question the effectiveness of the strategy. It may be aimed at shoring up support in California where Fiorina is more popular but with that state one of the last to hold a primary, it’s hard to see the strategy working.
Another reality Cruz and the GOP establishment will have to face at the convention is the news that six in ten Republicans believe whoever has the most votes, even if they’re short of a first ballot majority, should be the nominee. It’s hard to see Cruz or anyone else fighting that tide without risking the loyalty of Republican voters.
Cruz tries to argue that those millions of votes don’t mean anything if Trump doesn’t get a majority of the delegates. His case is that voters elect delegates and delegates select the nominee but Senator Cruz might want to check with GOP voters before trying to make that case at the convention. In the meantime Trump has declared himself the presumptive nominee, claiming he could beat Hillary Clinton in spite of trailing her in every national poll, sometimes by wide margins.
The real estate tycoon shouldn’t get too complacent about the convention in July. In spite of their preference for the nominee to be the person with the most votes, fifty-five percent would be okay voting for Ted Cruz if the convention delegates decide to choose him. How that would play out in the fall is anyone’s guess but it’s hard to see Trump supporters playing along with that outcome.
However this ends, it’s not going to be pretty.