If you ready any analysis of the Super Tuesday voting results, you would be hard pressed to form an opinion other than Trump’s utter dominance of the field.
After all, he won 7 states, right?
Well, it’s not that simple, unfortunately. The primary/caucus season isn’t a contest to see who can win the most states – it’s about delegates. And when you break the race down from that standpoint it becomes clear that while Trump won the most delegates, he actually underperformed from what most would have expected from him.
Let’s break down some of his wins.
Vermont is the most dubious of Trump’s wins. While Trump narrowly beat out Kasich in the popular vote, he actually tied Kasich in delegates (although 4 delegates still need to be assigned).
The fact that Trump won the popular vote really doesn’t matter when it comes to delegate math.
When we realize that it is the delegate math that matters, we quickly realize that not all states are equal, either. Splitting a handful of delegates is really just a drop in the overall bucket when you compare the number of delegates assigned in a larger state – like Texas.
Texas was the biggest state in play last night, and Trump lost it – badly.
Of all the states that have voted so far, no candidate has garnered a larger haul than Cruz did in Texas, including Trump’s impressive South Carolina win which awarded him 50 delegates.
Multiple Fractured States
What should be most troubling for Trump supporters, however, is the fact that most of the states last night showed a fairly even distribution of delegates.
All Candidates Have the Same Problem
In fairness, of course, this isn’t just Trump’s problem – it’s a problem for all of the candidates. Out of the five remaining candidates, only Ted Cruz and Trump have managed to gain any major haul of delegates from any state.
For Trump, he’s had four states in which delegate counts heavily favored his candidacy:
- South Carolina: +50 delegates over next closest (SC is a winner-take-all state)
- Georgia: +22 delegates
- Alabama: +23 delegates
- Tennessee: +17 delegates
Cruz is the only other candidate to see any major haul of delegates:
- Texas: +66 delegates
But for the other candidates, not realizing major hauls of delegates isn’t as big of a problem since their campaign goals seem to be catered more towards a brokered convention.
Signs of a Brokered Convention
All of this points to the possibility – and the growing reality – of a brokered convention. The delegate counts at this point are just too evenly spread out.
Trump needs 916 more delegates to secure the nomination. Over the next week, there are several more primaries and caucuses that will likely divide up their delegates in a similar manner to what we’ve seen so far. Assuming Trump gets 36% of those delegates (which is what he’s averaging in most proportionate states), he’ll gain an additional 120 or so delegates.
It will then come down to the winner-take-all states which he’ll need to dominate.
That’s not to say he won’t dominate those states, but the path is not as clear as most of the media would have you believe.