Ted Cruz won the Wisconsin Primary last night, taking 40 of the 46 delegates. This leaves the delegate count looking like this:
Trump – 758
Cruz – 505
Kasich – 144
There are 769 delegates remaining.
I’m not going to discuss Kasich the rest of the way given he is irrelevant, and cannot obtain the magic number for the nomination which is 1237. He still trails Marco Rubio, who dropped out nearly a month ago.
In order for Trump to attain enough delegates to win the nomination outright, he will need at least 479 of the remaining 769, or roughly 62%. Cruz would have to win 732 of the remaining delegates, or 95%.
That is pretty much an impossibility, so for all intents and purposes, Donald Trump is the only candidate who can win the nomination on the first ballot at the convention.
Cruz will be mathematically knocked out of winning a majority if he does not win at least 58 delegates in New York on April 19th.
Continuing along those lines, here is a look at the next phase of the election, starting from New York up until West Virginia on May 10:
New York (95 Delegates)
Connecticut (26 Delegates)
Delaware (16 Delegates)Maryland
Pennsylvania (17 Delegates bound, 54 more unbound)
Rhode Island (19 Delegates)
Indiana (57 Delegates)
Nebraska (36 Delegates)
West Virginia (34 Delegates)
Trump winning roughly 62% of the delegates through this stretch would leave him with about 1000 delegates. If he leaves this stretch with that figure or higher, he will be in good shape heading towards the western states. That means a haul of about 242 delegates, and his home state of NY will be a huge part of him attaining that figure. If Trump sweeps through the April 26th contests, he’ll be well on his way to attaining the figure he needs, with either Indiana or West Virginia putting him over the top. A lot will be determined over the next 21 days.
Predictably, after the Wisconsin result, there has been much in the way of celebration from everyone but the Trump camp. Recall that the past two weeks have been an all out blitz from the #NeverTrump camp, from Wisconsin conservative talk radio, to GOP establishment figureheads like Scott Walker.
Trump made a few unforced errors as well, which didn’t help him, but at the end of the day the fact that Wisconsin is a different breed of conservative didn’t help him. The radio hosts told him as much the minute he landed in the state. Exit polling showed that Wisconsin Republican voters were less ‘angry’ at the system in comparison to other states. In short, the state of Wisconsin is fine with the status quo as it is. That never augured well for Trump.
This is not a turning point, however, despite what the media and Cruz camp are trying to say. What Wisconsin happened to be was the perfect storm. RNC chairman Reince Priebus, governor Scott Walker and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan are all Wisconsinites. Anti-Trump SuperPACs spent tens of millions in the state. Multiple talk show radio hosts, all with heavy influence on the electorate, are all anti-Trumpers. Charlie Sykes, one of those radio hosts, bluntly laid out the motivations for supporting Cruz on MSNBC yesterday:
I’ve said Ted Cruz is not my first choice, my second choice, or my third choice, but he’s the guy right now who is the only guy that can stop Donald Trump from getting 1,237 and the only candidate who can stop him in Wisconsin. He is the guy. So I am more anti-Trump than I am pro-Cruz, but Ted Cruz acceptable enough to Wisconsinites.
Cruz is acceptable enough to Wisconsinites, and indeed the GOP, for now. His only use to the GOPe is to stop Trump from getting a majority. Having done that, they’ll drop Cruz like a hot potato at the convention and go for someone else.
It baffles me that Cruz supporters are so blind as to think that they actually have a shot to win the nomination. The real feeling about Cruz among most of the GOPe is that he is terrible, but at least he is the devil we know. Whereas Trump is a total wild card.
In truth, the only reason Cruz has come this far is because the Trump phenomenon made room for Cruz as an ‘outsider.’ If Trump had never entered, there is no way Cruz could have made such an inroad. He would have had to be as brash as Trump was at the beginning, but given the way he has been treated in national politics and the media since his rise to the senate, he would have been discarded quickly. As I wrote a few weeks ago, Trump is probably the only man in America to actually make a real ‘outsider’ viable.
This is precisely why Cruz stayed silent when everyone and their mother denounced Trump in the summer and fall of 2015. Cruz was doing this because he recognized that the real fight was between the outsiders and the GOPe, and that by biding his time, allowing Trump to build up the ‘outsider’ side of the ledger, he could come in later and try and fight him for it. Had Cruz gone after Trump earlier, he would have aligned himself with the GOPe side and been blown out quickly.
At this stage of the game, now that all real establishment threats have gone to the wayside, the only thing that could benefit the GOPe is a fight between the ‘outsiders,’ Trump and Cruz, that could leave both unable to achieve a majority and thus put the GOPe back in control at the convention.
Of course, Cruz isn’t a real outsider, in the sense that he has been in the Washington system all of his career. He is a system man who nobody likes, not because he wants to change the system necessarily, but because he expedited his rise through the ranks by playing at being the outsider.
At the end of the day, he still has to make concessions to the system, which is the reason that those wanting real change should back Trump. Trump may not be the PRINCIPLED CONSERVATIVE everyone wants, but those principles have no place in the current political system outside of the fringes.
This is what #NeverTrump people don’t get, and it was evident in Wisconsin over the course of the last two weeks. If you want real PRINCIPLED CONSERVATISM in 2016, the current system has to look a lot different. In reality, the current culture has to look a lot different. You aren’t going to change it toiling in the doldrums of Politics As Usual. You have to burn the house down and start again. Which is what Trump represents.
Once a Trump-like candidate, warts and all, finishes his work, the likes of Ted Cruz, the Pauls, and whoever can actually impart their PRINCIPLED CONSERVATISM from a place of strength, rather than fighting against the machine. If last night was indeed a turning point, the machine will remain, and PRINCIPLED CONSERVATISM will achieve nothing more than token senate seats and marginal presidential primary runs.