By now, everyone has heard of the #NeverTrump movement. RedState is one of the blogs that has signed onto the #NeverTrump movement because they’re a conservative blog and because Trump isn’t a conservative. This weekend, one of their writers, Dan Spencer, wrote this post urging Gov. Kasich to drop out of the GOP presidential race. If Spencer wants to prevent Mr. Trump from winning the GOP nomination on the first ballot, Spencer better hope Gov. Kasich stays in the race.
According to RealClearPolitics’ delegate chart, there are 18 states that haven’t held their nominating events. Wisconsin, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Nebraska, California, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota are winner-take-all states. North Dakota is a caucus state. Their delegates are unbound. States that award delegates proportionally are New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Oregon, Washington and New Mexico.
The latest LA Times poll for California has Trump leading Sen. Cruz by a single point with likely GOP voters. Prior to this poll, most people expected Trump to win handily. What’s happened in the last 2 weeks is that Gov. Kasich’s support in California has dropped by 6 points and Sen. Rubio has dropped out. Trump dropped 2 points while Cruz jumped 13 points. California’s 172 delegates are the richest winner-take-all prize of the cycle. By comparison, the next biggest winner-take-all state is Pennsylvania with 71 delegates.
This poll shows a tight race between Trump and Kasich in Pennsylvania. Trump leads with 33%, followed closely by Gov. Kasich with 30%. Sen. Cruz is a distant third with 20%. The point is that Trump would win Pennsylvania handily if Gov. Kasich dropped out. Add those 71 delegates to the 739 that Trump already has.
Add a big percentage of New York State’s 95 delegates to Trump’s total and he’s within whispering distance of winning the nomination. Winning Wisconsin’s 42 delegates and California’s 172 delegates puts Trump at almost 1,100 delegates. That’s before getting Jersey’s 51 delegates.
The key to stopping Trump is having Kasich stay in and win Pennsylvania. That leaves Trump at least 100 delegates short of the 1,237 delegates he needs to win a first ballot nomination.
The minute the nomination fight goes to a second ballot, Trump is history:
Working against Trump is the fact that South Carolina’s potential delegates may be drawn only from the 925 party insiders who attended the state’s GOP convention in 2015. It’s a pool of party veterans who helped reelect the state’s GOP chairman Matt Moore, who has been vocally critical of Trump, with 83 percent support last year.
Some of the insiders who staffed that reelection fight are now working to help Kasich recruit delegates, even though the Ohio governor was trounced in the South Carolina primary, winning just 7 percent of the vote and finishing fifth among six candidates.
But it’s Cruz who enjoys support from much of the conservative activist class and seems best positioned to reap the support of double-agent delegates. Many prospective delegates contacted by POLITICO voiced support for Cruz and indicated they’d strongly consider voting for him on a second ballot.
That’s South Carolina. Then there’s Georgia:
A similar scenario in Coweta County, Georgia, last week exposed the relative inexperience of Trump’s delegate team. Trump won the county by 12 points in the Super Tuesday primary, but Cruz’s supporters had secured a majority of positions to the county convention during precinct meetings before the voting even took place.
Cruz’s allies from the county will outnumber Trump’s about 9-to-1 at the district convention on April 16, and while those who end up in Cleveland will still be bound proportionally to Trump, they are almost certain to switch to Cruz in the case of a second ballot.
In short, Trump has to win on the first ballot to win the nomination. Sen. Cruz’s organization has done the work that strong organizations do. Trump doesn’t have an organization. If Trump doesn’t win the GOP nomination, it will be because he got sloppy and thought the laws of politics didn’t pertain to him.
Confidence is one thing. Sloppiness within a campaign is unforgivable. For this to matter, though, Sen. Cruz needs Gov. Kasich to win Pennsylvania.