Mathematically, Ted Cruz is the only candidate that can stop Donald Trump
Onlookers often complain when races are called early on. With dozens of other states to go, how can anyone know mathematically that something is impossible? The answer is the same basic reason that some races, like New Hampshire, could be called literally seconds after the polls closed while other races like Iowa didn’t get called until over 70% of the precincts had reported. It all has to do with the mathematical path to victory.
Karl Rove embarrassed himself in 2012 when he refused to accept some of the states that were called for Obama after less than 10% of the votes in the state were calculated. He huffed and puffed, but in the end Obama easily won those states. This is based upon a fundamental misunderstanding about how the election process works. It’s the same thing that’s keeping Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and Ben Carson in the race. It’s part of the reason that Marco Rubio is still in the race, though that one is a bit more complex.
Keep in mind that most candidates end their campaigns because of money, not because they no longer have a chance. The campaign trail is grueling, but there are benefits in the form of future campaigns, contacts, and placement within a winning ticket (a la Joe Biden) that compels candidates to keep pushing when there is no path to victory. Right now, Bush, Kasich, and Carson have no path to victory. Rubio is the wildcard with a mathematically improbably path, but it’s worth exploring so we can gain an understanding of why Ted Cruz is the only person who can realistically stop a Donald Trump nomination.
Rubio’s original plan was 3-2-1 Liftoff. He wanted to finish 3rd in Iowa, second in New Hampshire, and 1st in South Carolina. Iowa worked out nicely, but New Hampshire was a disaster and he’s fighting to keep third in South Carolina. Then, we have Nevada followed by 11 states in the “SEC Primary” on March 1. His best-case-scenario is having two wins in the first 15 states. Let’s look at the path to nomination for the previous GOP candidates:
- 2012: Mitt Romney won New Hampshire, lost South Carolina, then went on to win eight of the next 10.
- 2008: Many candidates will point to John McCain’s comeback as a reason to keep going. He lost Iowa, didn’t compete in Wyoming, and won New Hampshire. Then he won two of five leading up to Super Tuesday. Then, he won nine of 21, but the real coup was that he received all of the delegates in California, New York, Arizona, Missouri, and New Jersey. This is important to note because this year the winner-take-all states don’t kick in until March 15.
- 2000: George W. Bush came out of Super Tuesday with 16 of 23 states.
- 1996: Even Bob Dole, who had a rocky start in 1996, won 10 out of the first 15 states., including a 5-state win streak going into Super Tuesday.
In any of those years, Rubio would have been able to continue. He would have had a chance. He happens to be running in the one election with a schedule that makes it impossible for him to win the nomination. Instead of the blue-state advantage that helped McCain come back in 2008 or Dole in 1996, Rubio is faced with a very red Super Tuesday that includes Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Oklahoma. He will have a hard time meeting the 20% threshold to receive delegates in Texas, Tennessee, and Alabama unless Bush, Kasich, and Carson all drop out before Super Tuesday, which is highly unlikely. Moreover, if Cruz can get 50% in many of the districts in his home state of Texas, the delegate pool favors him greatly. As National Journal details:
Seventy percent of [Texas’] 155 delegates will be allocated based on the March 1 election results, following a winner-take-all by congressional district formula: If a candidate fails to earn more than 50 percent of the votes in a given congressional district, the delegates will be divided two-to-one between the first-place and second-place finishers. The remaining 30 percent will be awarded by a caucus at the state convention in May.
As Breitbart put it, Texas could be the kingmaker this year.
What does all of this mean?
Based upon the primary schedule, Trump and Cruz are the only candidates with a realistic chance of winning the nomination. Rubio would need a massive win in South Carolina to even compete in the March 1 Super Tuesday and that’s very unlikely. Those who oppose Trump should strongly consider switching to Cruz as I did.
Update: There have been questions about why this isn’t being reported in the mainstream media. Their agenda requires a different narrative that keeps Rubio in the race until they can muster a brokered convention. Their goal is to suspend disbelief long enough to hurt Cruz as he would stand in the way of their goals.