If this were a normal primary election, I would have already called Donald Trump the winner. The only thing keeping that from happening is the fact that Ted Cruz has been remarkable competent in wrangling delegates to his column combined with a Republican party leadership that doesn’t want to support the only candidate that can mathematically win the nomination on the first vote.
Almost since the beginning of the Republican primary, Donald Trump has been holding steady in the percentage of delegates that he has been winning. His winning percentage has been maintained regardless of how many other candidates have dropped out. Now, it looks doubtful that there will be any more candidates withdraw from the race prior to the Republican national convention.
Here is a graph of the percentage of available pledged delegates that Donald Trump has taken over the course of the primary race:
As you can see, once there is enough races to begin to get an average, he has been more or less stable between 44% and 47%. If he manages to cross the 50% threshold after the last delegate is pledged, he will be able to win the nomination outright.
Let’s assume, for the moment, that he continues to waver between 44% and 47% through the end of the primary season. If that happens, he should reach the convention with between 1112 and 1161 delegates: that would be between 76 and 125 delegates shy of the 1237 needed to win.
But that’s not the end of the story.
There will be about 200 delegates that aren’t pledged to anyone that can vote for any candidate they want on the first ballot. If we were to take those 200 delegates and assume that Donald Trump wins one third of them (chance distribution) that would be about 66 to 67 delegates. That would put him between 1178 and 1228 delegates on the first vote.
That leaves Donald Trump somewhere between 9 and 59 delegates short to win the nomination on the first vote. That is not an insurmountable number of delegates to attain.
Let’s say that – instead of a chance distribution of 33% of the unbound delegates – we use the 44% to 47% of delegates that he has been winning since the race evened out. That would translate to somewhere between 88 and 94 delegates. Adding those to the total that he should win outright brings the total to between 1200 and 1255 delegates.
Looking at it a different way, Donald Trump would only need to come up with 37 more delegates at the most in order to win the nomination on the first ballot. That is, of course, unless there is a strong anti-Trump current running through the unpledged delegates.
Being that close to making the nomination outright, it looks like either Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee or the Republican National Committee will have to work really diligently to convince the Republican voters that they didn’t steal the nomination from the man who won.
There are scenarios that put Donald Trump in even a better position, but I will leave those for a different post so they won’t be mixed with the pure mathematical averages.