After sweeping all five Republican primaries this week, Donald Trump is ready to crown himself the GOP’s “presumptive nominee.”
“I consider myself the presumptive nominee, absolutely,” he said during a victory speech on Tuesday night. Trump argued that his rivals have “no path to victory” and that Ted Cruz was “wasting his time” by looking for a vice presidential candidate. (Source: “Trump and Clinton: It’s time,” CNBC, April 27, 2016.)
The real estate mogul has a wide lead over Cruz. He has won 26 states so far, with just 11 yet to vote. All he needs is 46% of the remaining delegates to cross the magic number: 1,237.
That’s how many delegates are needed to win the Republican nomination. It shouldn’t be too difficult for Trump. A Fox News poll put him at 49% in California and 41% in Indiana. If those polls are right, he has this race locked up. (Source: “2016 Delegate Count and Primary Results,” The New York Times, April 27, 2016.)
California is the largest state in the union, with 170 delegates up for grabs. He wouldn’t even need a wide majority to get near the 1,237 threshold. Indiana has 57 available delegates. Winning just a plurality of votes there could help put Trump over the top.
Both Cruz and Kasich know the political reality. Neither of them is likely to win before the Republican convention, so they formed an alliance to sabotage Trump’s campaign. (Source: “3 winners and 2 losers from Super Trumpsday,” Vox, April 26, 2016.)
The plan is to stop competing in states where the other candidate has a chance of hurting Trump. Indiana is supposed to be the testing ground for this new strategy.
Since Ted Cruz is closing the gap in Indiana, Kasich was supposed to lay low. He effectively stopped campaigning in that state, and Cruz did the same in Oregon and New Mexico.
However, when it came to directing their voters, both Cruz and Kasich chickened out:
Kasich, asked whom his supporters in Indiana should vote for: “I’ve never told them not to vote for me. They ought to vote for me.”
— Thomas Kaplan (@thomaskaplan) April 25, 2016
Cruz tells IN crowd that Kasich is pulling out of Indiana. But he conveniently has not told tell them about his end of deal so far. — Sean Sullivan (@WaPoSean) April 25, 2016
Considering their only chance to stop Trump is by combining their votes, Kasich and Cruz are doing a pretty bad job. Their plan seems doomed to failure.
As it stands, Trump has a simple job for the next two weeks: meet expectations in Indiana and California. Winning those states would force the GOP establishment to accept him as the party’s nominee.
If they don’t, Hillary Clinton gets a head start on the general election.