Opponents of real estate mogul Donald Trump are growing increasingly optimistic about the chances that Trump will not be the nominee:
More confident than ever Trump will not be the nominee. He won’t get 1,237 delegates by Cleveland. He’ll lose to Cruz on 2nd or 3rd ballot.
— Matt Mackowiak (@MattMackowiak) March 30, 2016
I completely agree https://t.co/Df8ZZNntg0
— Steve Deace (@SteveDeaceShow) March 30, 2016
Here are five reasons why they’re likely correct.
1. Sen. Ted Cruz’s superior campaign operation is helping him win over unbound delegates. Even though Cruz barely lost Louisiana, he is going to win a majority of delegates there because his campaign infrastructure actually understands the state rules and flexed its muscles to woo over at least 10 more delegates than Trump. Additionally, Cruz is poised to win most of the 37 delegates in Colorado, where the delegates are unbound and overwhelmingly support Cruz. The same logic would dictate that Cruz will do well in North Dakota, whose primary is on Thursday but all 28 delegates are unbound, as well as in Pennsylvania, where 54 of the 71 delegates in play are unpledged.
2. Trump continues to only win a plurality, not a majority. Despite the fact that the primary is already more than halfway over and the field has whittled down to three (although Ohio Gov. John Kasich has been mathematically eliminated), Trump has been unable to consolidate enough support behind him and has yet to reach the 50 percent threshold in any of the primaries so far. That does not bode well for him going forward.
3. Cruz is surging. As the field has consolidated, the support and momentum has gone towards Cruz, who is starting to pull away from Trump in Wisconsin as well as making a dent in his national polling lead. If Cruz can seal the deal in Wisconsin, a blue-collar state with an open primary, it would suggest a major shift in the race that would make it increasingly difficult for Trump to reach the magic 1,237 number.
4. The advantages Trump had in previous states is now gone. There were three things working to Trump’s advantage earlier in the primary: a divided field, open primaries and early voting. Trump could win with only a plurality of the vote with the anti-Trump forces divided, open primaries allowed him to attract moderate and Democrat voters and early voting numbers have boosted Trump’s numbers, while he’s done poorly among late deciders. While Kasich continues to suck away some of the anti-Trump vote, Cruz’s polling numbers suggest that the anti-Trump forces are starting to unite behind him, and going forward there aren’t many open primaries or states with early voting to inflate Trump’s numbers.
5. The more Trump-optimistic scenarios have him barely exceeding the 1,237 delegate threshold. A FiveThirtyEight panel of analysts who are well-versed in delegate math and the state convention rules featured three respondents with Trump reaching 1,237-1244 delegates, and that was the scenario most favorable to Trump. That means that going forward, Trump has little margin for error if he wants to avoid a contested convention. Conservative Review‘s Daniel Horowitz has mapped out a delegate projection the rest of the primary season that ends with Trump and Cruz nearly even at 1,053 and 1,063 delegates, respectively.
Based on the current state of the race, a contested convention is becoming increasingly likely.