Trump: the math of victory

I’ll update this with more accurate data from Missouri when it is reported. But the results of the primaries and caucuses since the last analysis have been generally favorable for Trump, and contra the media naysayers, he’s in a slightly stronger position than I expected him to be after failing to pick up Ohio.

In my previous analysis, I said that Trump’s minimum expected delegate count after March 15 if he took Ohio would be 750 (719 + 31 from NC) and that “he will need somewhere between 271 and 325 delegates from the 606 that remain in the winner-takes-all states.” According to Real Clear Politics, his delegate count going into yesterday was 460. On top of that, yesterday he picked up:

99 Florida
52 Illinois
35 Missouri (est)
30 North Carolina
09 Northern Marianas

That brings him to 685 delegates. Now, there are 297 proportional delegates remaining to be assigned, and Trump is regularly winning about 44 percent of them. (For example, I estimated 31 for NC and his actual count was 30.) So, he can reliably count on 127 of those proportional delegates, which will bring his total to 812, 425 short of the 1,237 required for the nomination. The more he outperforms in the proportionals, and Rubio’s dropout should help him there, the more room for error he will have.

But perhaps the easiest way to understand it is this: there are 606 delegates left to be won in the 12 remaining winner-takes-all states. Trump has enough leeway that he could lose California and still win the nomination outright. He needs around two-thirds of the winner-takes-all delegates, which, given the way he has won 5 of the 6 winner-takes-all contests, losing only to a sitting governor in his home state, still tends to favor him.