Most observers speak as though Trump victories in Florida and Ohio will, in effect, put the nomination in the bag. A few posts down, I said that Florida was a must-win for Rubio -- otherwise, nothing can deny Trump a first-ballot victory at the convention: "Yes, that goal would still be possible technically
. It is also technically
possible that I'll start dating Katy Perry next year."
Realistically, we must now admit that Rubio can't win his home state (at least not without some serious electoral hugger-mugger). The WP is already writing the man's political obituary
But a cloud of fatalism now hovers over his campaign. Aides on Wednesday tried to beat back rumors he would quit the race — perhaps before Thursday’s CNN debate in Miami. Donors exchanged grim messages about Rubio’s fate in Florida, where his campaign, short on cash, is running no advertisements. New polls showed him trailing Trump here badly.
So it's no go, Marco -- and Trump gets the nomination.
Hold on. Is that really
the case? A closer look at the numbers suggests otherwise. What we presumed to be impossible may, in fact, be possible.
(Perhaps I should grab some roses and chocolate and knock on Katy's front door. I call her Katy now. No, I haven't yet told her that I'm a classical music aficionado and am thus unfamiliar with her work. I'm saving that
for the second date.)
Writing in The Federalist
, Sean Davis argues that even if Trump wins both Florida and Ohio, he still has an uphill road.
There are a total of 2,472 delegates at stake. The winner must win 1,237 of them. As of today, Donald Trump is not even close to that. He’s not even close to half that amount. Trump has won 44 percent of delegates pledged so far, while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has won 34 percent, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has won 15 percent, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich has won 5 percent.
If Trump wins Ohio and Florida (165 delegates), he’ll still need to win 48 percent of the remaining delegates, and to date he’s won only 44 percent of them. Winning Florida helps Trump, yes, but not all that much, and not nearly as much as winning four of the other March 15 states would help him. This fact is why the Florida focus is so short-sighted.
Florida and Ohio are winner-take-all states. Most other states award delegates proportionately. As long as Trump has competition, he will be prevented from winning 48 percent of the remaining delegates.
That's why Rubio has to stay in.
That's also why Cruz -- paradoxically -- is the candidate offering the most help to the Republican Establishment's "Stop Trump" surge: Cruz steals votes from Trump. Cruz and Trump appeal to the same dim-bulb voters -- religious nuts, conspiracy nuts, wrestling fans, people who think that Slender Man is real, people who think that Triumph is an actual talking dog, etc. The paradox, of course, is that the Establishment hates Cruz almost as much as it hates Trump.
The primaries were front-loaded with southern states filled (on the GOP side) with dim-bulb voters. This arrangement gave an advantage to Trump and Cruz. The remaining states have a greater number of voters with a built-in resistance to the Trump Virus.
circumstances, the candidate who wins big on Super Tuesday, and in Florida, and in Ohio, would have a hammerlock on the nomination. The GOP likes to decide on a nominee early on. Right-wingers traditionally have been much better than left-wingers when it comes to lining up and marching together. There is no I in TEAM
, and all that.
But this is no ordinary election. Even if Trump wins in Ohio and Florida, the public is starting to tire of his creamsickle-colored shtick.
Question: Who takes his place?
Rubio, the Establishment candidate, must stay in the race for tactical reasons: He can help deny Trump from securing that all-important first ballot win. There is still the possibility that Rubio might emerge victorious if the convention devolves into chaos. That said, I don't see much of a future for Rubio if he loses in Florida.
Cruz? Let me put this as politely as possible: He is an acquired taste -- one that many people would prefer not to acquire.
That leaves Kasich. He would prove the most formidable candidate against Hillary. He would remind the world that the GOP has not gone totally bonkers.