Trump now in commanding position, Ohio loss may be blessing in disguise

By Dr. Patrick Slattery — Yet another “Super Tuesday” has come and gone, and once again Donald Trump has won the round. Marco Rubio has been knocked out of the race, but Ohio Governor John Kasich won his home state and all its 66 delegates, giving him the boost he needed to stay in the race for the time being.

Many observers have stated that Trump needed the 66 delegates from Ohio’s winner-take-all primary in order to have a shot at reaching the 1237 magic number for being nominated on the first ballot. Some even predict that on subsequent ballots, this “brokered” convention would be able to thwart the Donald’s path to the nomination.



I disagree. True, Trump will need to win about 58% of the remaining delegates to arrive at the convention with the magic number in hand. However, he won about 60% of the delegates tonight, and there is good reason to believe that tonight is representative of things to come.

March 15 represented a new phase in the way delegates are allotted to the candidates. Until now, the delegates were mostly awarded on a proportional representation basis. Trump’s string of plurality victories were only gaining him 45% or so of the delegates. However, from today on most of the contests will be winner-take-all, either on a statewide basis or with the statewide winner getting all of the state’s at-large delegates and the winner in each congressional district winning all the delegates from that district. Therefore, the winner of most of the remaining states will get 70-100% of those states’ delegates, even if they only poll 40% of the vote.

Trump should fare better in a three-man race that includes Kasich than in a two-man race against Cruz. While Trump has consistently led in the polls, whenever a question about a second-choice candidate is asked, he doesn’t fare so well. The implication is that Kasich will harm Cruz more than Trump. There may well be states that Cruz could beat Trump one on one, but will lose with Kasich in the race.

The fact is that Trump had a very good night tonight. He should have a very good night next week when Arizona votes in a straight winner-take-all race. He should have more good nights. If the race continues into June, when the big prize of California is up for grabs, he may very well be glad to have Kasich still in the race.

But what happens if he still doesn’t reach 1237 by the convention. Then what?

It has almost become conventional wisdom that if Trump fails to win enough delegates in the primaries, a brokered convention will prevent his nomination. This thinking ignores some important points. First of all, if Trump is only a little bit shy the magic number, Christie and Carson, whom have both endorsed Trump, won a dozen delegates. They cannot force their delegates to vote for Trump, but if their delegates are loyal history indicates that they will likely abide by their candidates wishes.

More important is Rubio. He has 168 delegates, which is likely to be more than enough to make up Trump’s deficit. Rubio’s Senate term will expire at the end of the year, and the very ambitious 44-year-old will be unemployed. If we have learned anything about Trump, it is that he does not hold a grudge against vanquished opponents. Just ask Christie and Carson.

Rubio would not even have to make a formal endorsement of Trump. He could simply release his delegates to vote their conscience, and then Trump could court the delegates directly. Delegates, by the way, are often politically ambitious people themselves.

Which brings me to my final point. Even if he does not win on the first ballot, all delegates will be released to vote their conscience on subsequent ballots. Provided that Trump’s team has been careful in choosing loyal delegates, he will have a much easier time than his opponents in trying to lure away other candidates delegates being that he won’t likely need very many. And besides, he literally wrote the book on the art of the deal.

As long as Trump doesn’t collapse in the remaining primaries, pretty much the only way to stop him would be for Rubio and Kasich release their delegates and instruct them to vote for Cruz, assuming that this would be enough to push Cruz over the top. But even this would be no sure thing, as Trump might be able to pick off enough of these released delegates to get himself over the top.

The bottom line: Trump is now in a commanding position and we should feel very good about his, and our, future prospects.

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