This is going to be a big day for Donald Trump so see how many delegates he can grab.
Trump has a big lead in most states and this is where the winner takes all.
Another Tuesday in March; another crucial set of primaries. After the violent clashes in Chicago on Friday night, it’s back to the nitty-gritty of votes and delegate counts. By Tuesday night, Donald Trump could be well on his way to wrapping up the Republican nomination, or he could be facing the prospect of a fight all the way to the Convention. On the Democratic side, we will find out whether Bernie Sanders can build on his surprise victory in Michigan last week and deliver another blow to Hillary Clinton.
Five states will be holding primaries: Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio. In the G.O.P. contests, which also include a caucus in the Northern Mariana Islands, more than three hundred and sixty delegates will be up for grabs, which is about a seventh of the total required for the nomination. (That one-seventh figure doesn’t include super delegates, who are fewer in number and less powerful in the Republican Party than in the Democratic.) Adding to the stakes for the Republicans, Florida and Ohio are winner-take-all votes, while Illinois will award the great majority of its delegates to the candidate who finishes in first place.
If Trump wins these three states—and the latest opinion polls suggest that this is a real possibility—he will pick up more than two hundred delegates, to add to his current total of four hundred and sixty. Because Trump is also leading the polls in Missouri and North Carolina, it is conceivable that he could end the night with more than seven hundred delegates, and with a lead over the second-place candidate, Ted Cruz, of about three hundred delegates.
Such an outcome would leave Trump well short of the twelve hundred and thirty-seven delegates he needs to have a majority of the elected delegates. But the dynamics of the race would be overwhelmingly in his favor. If Trump wins Florida, Marco Rubio will almost certainly drop out of the race. If Trump wins Ohio, John Kasich is also likely to exit. That would leave Trump in a two-man race against Cruz.
With nineteen primaries and caucuses remaining, Trump would need to pick up roughly half of the remaining delegates to achieve a majority, and the geography of the race would strongly favor him. Cruz, with his following of dedicated conservatives, does best in caucuses and in the South. But the only remaining Republican caucus is in Utah, which votes on March 22nd, and the only Southern state yet to vote is West Virginia, which arguably isn’t part of the South at all. For Trump, by contrast, the primary map looks very favorable. In big states like New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, he is running well ahead in the polls.
Of course, as we rediscovered in Michigan, the polls aren’t always reliable. For what they are worth, however, they suggest that Trump has a big lead in Florida, while the contest in Ohio is very close. A Quinnipiac University poll that was carried out over the weekend and published on Monday showed Trump leading Rubio by twenty-four percentage points in Florida. Another new survey, from Monmouth University, showed Trump in front of Rubio by seventeen percentage points. (In both polls, Cruz was in third place.) “At least when it comes to this presidential primary, Florida might change its nickname from Sunshine State to Landslide State,” Quinnipiac’s Peter A. Brown said in a statement. “Sen. Marco Rubio, who has staked his future on [winning] his home state, looks like he’ll soon be toast.”
On Monday, Trump cancelled an event in Florida, an indication that he is confident of winning there, and added one in Youngstown, Ohio. According to the Quinnipiac pollsters, who also surveyed Ohioans over the weekend, Trump and Kasich are now running even in the Buckeye State, with each getting thirty-eight per cent of the vote. (Cruz is in third place, at sixteen per cent.) An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which was carried out from Wednesday to Friday of last week and published on Sunday, showed Kasich with a six-point lead over Trump: thirty-nine per cent to thirty-three per cent.
As the sitting governor of the state, Kasich has a big advantage in organization and endorsements, including that of Mitt Romney, which may yet see him home. But Trump is making a fight of it. On Monday, he claimed to have received the endorsement of a local icon, Pete Rose, the disgraced Cincinnati Reds great. On his Twitter feed, Trump showed a photograph of a baseball signed by Rose, with the inscription “MR. TRUMP PLEASE MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.”