Tuesday didn't tell us whether Donald Trump will win 1,237 delegates by June. But the results virtually guarantee that the GOP primaries will rage all the way until the very last contests in California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Montana and South Dakota on June 7 - and possibly to a contested convention in July. For the first time in a long time, every state will matter.
Why? Consider the math: there are 303 delegates at stake on June 7, the largest single-day haul remaining on the calendar. To examine our scorecard below is to realize here is virtually no chance Trump will be eliminated from the possibility of reaching 1,237 delegates before then, and there's virtually no chance Trump will reach 1,237 until then.
From now on, Trump will be fighting a two-front war: in blue, highly-educated states and districts, he'll be fending off John Kasich for delegates. Everywhere else, but especially in the heartland and caucus states, he'll be duking it out with Ted Cruz for delegates. Right now, it's an extremely close call as to whether Trump can shoot the gap.
Any Republican would need to capture 1,237 of 2,472 delegates to the Cleveland convention to clinch the Republican nomination. To help you keep track of who's ahead, the Cook Political Report has devised a delegate scorecard estimating how many delegates each of the three leading GOP contenders would need to win in each state and territory to attain 1,237 delegates by June.
For the first time since before his sweep of South Carolina, Trump is below his delegate "target" to reach 1,237, but just barely: he's at 97 percent of what he needs to be "on track" for the nomination thanks to his loss in Ohio to Kasich. Meanwhile, Cruz is at just 54 percent of his target, and Kasich is at 24 percent.
Trump would need 54 percent of remaining delegates at stake to reach 1,237, which is highly achievable given that 58 percent of delegates at stake between now and June will be awarded on a winner-take-all basis. Cruz would need 81 percent of what's left, a virtual impossibility. Kasich, at just 144 delegates, has been mathematically eliminated from reaching 1,237, but could continue to rack up delegates and wield considerable influence at a contested convention.
Heading into next week's primaries in Arizona and Utah, every delegate counts, and even small margins could have a huge impact on Trump's ability to get to 1,237. Trump is expected to win Arizona and its 58 delegates; a surprise loss would seriously complicate his path to a majority. But the real question is Utah: if Cruz wins at least 50 percent of the vote there, he will receive all 40 delegates, which would be a huge boost to stopping Trump. If he falls short, Utah's delegates will be awarded proportionally, helping Trump.
2016 Republican Delegate Scorecard: Updated for March 18, 2016
How this works: The scorecard below is not a prediction or forecast. Rather, it's a tool to gauge each major GOP candidate's true progress towards the nomination. At any given point in the primaries, any candidate who exceeds his cumulative delegate target should be regarded as the frontrunner. But, if no candidate exceeds 100 percent of their target, the higher the odds of a contested convention. Click here for a larger version of the table.
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