The good news about Donald Trump

Trump smiling, eyes closed to reality.
Photo by Marc Nozell. Used with permission.
Donald Trump is not going to snag the Republican nomination: There will likely be a brokered convention.

Going into today, Trump had only won about 46-49% of the allocated Republican delegates; he needs at least 50% to win the nomination outright.

That may seem like a very narrow margin. But it really is not that narrow given the nature of the primaries and caucuses that lie ahead.

[Going forward, I use "primary" very loosely, referring to both primaries and caucuses.]

Until today, the vast majority of the Republican primaries have been “open.” In “open” primaries you don’t have to be a Republican to have your say in who should be the Republican nominee.

Some have speculated that a substantial number of Democrats have opted to vote in the Republican primaries instead of their own. The thinking is that they want to see Trump nominated. He would be relatively easy for Hillary Clinton to beat in November.

It may sound like a bit of a conspiracy theory, but the track record suggests it isn’t far-fetched.

Of the four Republican primaries that have been “closed,” Trump has won only one. Put another way, he has received only 70 of the 167 allocated “closed” delegates. That’s 42%.

Here’s the good news: Roughly 1800 Republican delegates are still up for grabs, and nearly 1100 of them come from “closed” primaries.

Trump currently has 329 delegates and he needs a total of 1237 delegates to win the nomination through the primaries. That means he needs to win at least 908 more delegates.

If Trump were to maintain his current capacity for capturing “closed” and “open” primary delegates (which is questionable given the way the mainstream media, social media, and prominent Republican leaders, like Mitt Romney, have increasingly lambasted him, for, inter alia, his instinct toward crimes against humanity, e.g., waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse”), he would only win 726 to 743 more delegates. That would put him at just a touch over 1000 delegates—nearly 200 delegates shy of the magic 1237-delegate mark.

Tonight’s results will put this theory to a pretty good test. All four of today’s Republican primaries are “closed.” If precedent is predictive, of today’s 155 available delegates, Trump should only win about 65 of them.

Some preliminary results are already in for Kansas and Maine. And guess what? Trump is losing handily, regardless of what the polls had predicted would happen.

My faith in American humanity is beginning to grow again.

***UPDATE*** Trump is looking to do even worse than I predicted earlier today. Based on what has been reported, he'll only get around 57 delegates or 37% (opposed to 65 delegates or 42%). He'll technically "win" two of the states, but by slim enough margins. All and all, a great night for those who are not fans of Trump! Here's hoping the Trump Train is losing momentum!

Here's my breakdown of how many delegates will soon be coming from "closed" primaries.

This information is my synthesis of data
 found on and


  1. I hope this is right. I do think Trump will do better in closed primaries than closed caucuses. I predict him to do slightly better than you're projecting, maybe 70 delegates, or even 80 if Louisiana (the primary of the day) is exceptionally pro-Trump.

    Also, there is a big issue in that Trump "needs" only 65 delegates to stay on what 538 calls his path to the nomination: Trump wasn't expected by 538's best to do that well tonight

    I would find this analysis more persuasive if it differentiated primaries from caucuses. I see Trump winning few closed caucuses but a lot of closed primaries.

  2. I think OK is an outlier-- a closed primary that favored Cruz more naturally.

  3. I agree with Michael Worley, the 538 projections are a bit more optimistic for Trump and so is NYT's Upshot. That said, I have been thinking about that same topic since last Tuesday. Regardless of polls, Trump underperforms in caucus states. Closed primaries may be a bit different though. Remember people were saying the same thing about Romney around this time 4 years ago but pundits forgot to account for momentum. I think March 15 will be the most revealing date for Trump. If he manages to clinch FL, momentum will carry him pretty quickly. Momentum beats negative ads all day everyday. FL is interesting because of all the demographics it is home to. Rubio is supposed to be the favorite there but I just don't buy it. His poll numbers have been consistently low. And there are rumors that hispanics, specifically Puerto Ricans, just don't like him at all. I think if anyone has a chance to be a party pooper, it will be Cruz. His schedule for the next ten days is HEAVILY focused on Florida, more so than any other candidate. That said, Trump's second home is FL and I expect that's the state he most wants. Another factor that people aren't accounting for is that this shorter primary schedule means that later states that usually aren't relevant, will be relevant this time around. NY, CA, WA, UT, AZ will be states to watch. Cruz has scheduled appearances in all of those states so I'm almost sure he's planning to grind it out to the end. Open convention? Hard to say. If we were on the regular primary schedule, I'd say no, but with this new schedule, it's fair to say that anything could happen. Heck, I'm not even counting out a Democratic open convention. Bernie is not far behind his 538 estimated schedule (84%). But that's for another blog post :)

  4. I think Ted Cruz has the best chance of beating him and getting the nomination. Great thoughts, thanks for sharing!


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