Tuesday night’s elections increases likelihood of contested convention

· March 23, 2016  
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Romney giving a speech at the RNC. | Flickr

Last night, Cruz and Trump split the states in play, with Cruz absolutely crushing it in Utah and Trump winning big in Arizona.  Given that Arizona (58) is worth more than Utah (40), Trump will still net 18 more delegates than Cruz.  However, going forward, Cruz has a pretty good chance to catch Trump in delegates if this can remain a two-person race.  Either way, it’s very unlikely anyone will get a majority of delegates before the convention.

Here were the results from last night:

Utah- 40 Delegates (with 85% reporting)

Cruz: 69.2%

Trump: 14%

Kasich 16.9%

Arizona- 58 Delegates (with 75% reporting)

Trump 47.1%

Cruz: 24.7%

Kasich: 10%

Rubio/Others: 18%

American Samoa – 9 Delegates

Voters chose a slate of delegates who are completely unbound and did not vote for a candidate.

Here are some key takeaways from last night:

    1. Early voting is ridiculous and should be abolished, especially in a primary.  Rubio won 18% of early voting in Maricopa County, and together with other candidates, won roughly 18% statewide.  Voting in the state not only began before Rubio dropped out but before the Florida Senator’s presidential campaign collapsed.  While Trump’s performance was definitely strong, especially for a closed primary state, (although the margin might shrink a bit after all the votes are counted), the fact that early voting had incorrigibly split the anti-Trump vote made it such that Cruz never fully competed in the state.  Hence, there was an exaggerated effect in Trump’s performance.  It’s hard to predict how Trump would do in other closed contests in a head-to-head matchup without early voting.  Cruz will definitely do much better, but without any exit polling data there is no way to draw a conclusion from last night’s results.
    2. John Kasich came away last night without a single delegate.  He competed in Utah but only garnered 16% of the vote.  It’s quite evident that he will never win a single state but by siphoning off 10-20% across the map he can easily tip some remaining states to Trump.  Watch for the media to continue refraining from asking Kasich any tough questions.
    3. Cruz has a large 290-delegate gap to close, but with early voting (pre-Rubio drop out) in the rear-view mirror, the early April contests should give Cruz some momentum.  He should win the next four contests – North Dakota, Wisconsin, Colorado, and the remainder of Wyoming’s delegates.  While the delegates from Colorado and North Dakota are legally unbound, I’m counting them as part of his mandate given the dynamics of those states and the likelihood they will pledge support to him like they did in Wyoming.  However, Cruz’s challenge is to ensure that Kasich becomes a non-factor by the time the voting begins in Wisconsin, otherwise the Ohio Governor could tip some congressional districts to Trump.
    4. Headed forward, I plotted out a path to a plurality for Cruz.  It’s one of many scenarios.  However, some of this will be difficult if Kasich doesn’t drop out.  While Wisconsin is the next important state, it’s clear that Cruz needs to begin competing seriously in parts of New York to begin siphoning off delegates in congressional districts and cut into Trump’s margin of victory.

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Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.