U.S. Election 2016
How Trump beat his rivals in the Republican race
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
The window to stop the front-runner was fast-closing. With his rivals trying to block his path to the nomination, the billionaire tycoon staged resounding wins and made it impossible to catch him in the delegate race. On the Democratic side, a similar story is unfolding
- 1,237: Number of delegates needed to win the nomination
- 57: Delegates up for grabs in May 3 Indiana primary; Mr. Trump wins at least 51 – and knocks Ted Cruz out of the leadership race
- Ohio Governor John Kasich to drop out of race, according to reports on Wednesday. That leaves Mr. Trump with no challengers
- Read Omar El Akkad’s primary night report: Trump, once considered a vanity candidate, is now the GOP nominee presumptive
Donald Trump's quest to win the Republican presidential nomination comes down to math.
The anti-Trump playbook was to block the real estate billionaire's path to the nomination by preventing him from winning 1,237 delegates by the time contests wrap up on June 7 and forcing a contested national convention in Cleveland in July.
With commanding wins in his column, Mr. Trump's path to the nomination looks more and more likely.
If Senator Ted Cruz had chosen to continue after a humiliating loss in Indiana, the odds were stacked in Mr. Trump's favour.
Of the remaining 445 delegates to be awarded, Mr. Trump would need to win 43 per cent of those delegates in order to reach the 1,237 delegates target and lock down the nomination.
Most political pundits and observers – and no doubt Mr. Cruz himself – could see that the front-runner was all but certain to reach that target.
As an exercise, here is a look at how that percentage of remaining delegates that Mr. Trump needed to win changed over the course of the primaries.
That downward trajectory at the tail end of the graph line tells the story.
The Trump campaign had momentum on its side and needed to win a smaller percentage of the remaining delegates in order to clinch the nomination compared to the middle part of the primary contests.
In other words, the road to winning 1,237 was looking a lot easier.
The turning point only came recently.
These three graphs tell the story of the Trump candidacy going back to the start of contests in Iowa on February 1. Each graph shows the percentage of total delegates Mr. Trump won in each state.
March proved a critical month for the Trump campaign – with winner-take-all states beginning March 15.
Mr. Trump was blown out in Utah and Ohio, but won in Florida and Arizona.
Even in states where he lost – like Texas and Oklahoma – he won a significant percentage of the delegates because of the system of awarding delegates based on a proportional system in those states.
But his path to the nomination still looked bumpy – and talk of a contested convention was heating up.
The month of April witnessed emphatic Trump campaign wins by double digit margins – and a significant haul of delegates.
His rivals had little to no chance of blocking him, and their hopes of a contested convention that would upend the Trump candidacy were quickly fading.
Mr. Trump still needs to win 1,237 delegates – and most observers see him getting to that number on the last day of contests on June 7, with delegate-rich California putting him over the top.
But the month of April was the turning point – a month that finally put to rest the anti-Trump movement in the Republican leadership race and made Mr. Trump unstoppable in the delegate race.
In victory and defeat: the Trump and Cruz speeches
John Sommers II/Getty Images
Democrats: Hillary Clinton versus Bernie Sanders
- 2,383: Number of delegates needed to win the nomination
- 92: Delegates up for grabs in May 3 Indiana primary; Mr. Sanders scores big win, but unlikely to catch Ms. Clinton in the delegate race
- Read Omar El Akkad’s primary night report
By winning Indiana, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has bought time to make his case – that he is better positioned to take on Donald Trump in a presidential campaign, and Ms. Clinton will not likely reach the magic number of 2,383 delegates she needs to clinch the nomination with pledged delegates alone.
Mr. Sanders is holding hope that he can sway the hundreds of superdelegates that have overwhelmingly backed Ms. Clinton to jump ship and back him instead.
Superdelegates – the Democratic party's elites and officials – played an instrumental role eight years ago – when they broke in favour of Barack Obama and doomed Ms. Clinton's first presidential bid.
If there is going to be a game-changing moment that tilts the delegate race in favour of Mr. Sanders, time is running out. There are nine remaining state contests.
Barring any extraordinary twist in the Democratic nominating process, Ms. Clinton will in all likelihood be the party presidential nominee – and the first woman in U.S. history to lead her party in the general election.
Meanwhile, Mr. Sanders is vowing to stay in the race until state contests wrap-up in June – and has said that the party's national convention in July in Philadelphia will be contested.
That could be a pressing problem for the Democratic party: a political circus at the national convention that fails to heal rifts and unite the party after what has already been a highly divisive, long and drawn-out nominating process could hurt the party going in to a general election.
A new CNN/ORC national poll released Wednesday morning offers a glimpse in to where a Trump-Clinton general election match-up currently stands. The survey of voters was carried out before the Indiana primary on May 3:
- Clinton leads Trump among registered voters by 13 points – 54 per cent to 41 per cent. A similar poll in January showed the two virtually deadlocked.
- 9 out of 10 voters said the economy was the most pressing issue and viewed Mr. Trump (50 per cent) as better able to boost growth than Ms. Clinton (45 per cent).
- On immigration, healthcare, climate change, income inequality, education and foreign policy, voters gave Ms. Clinton the edge over Mr. Trump.
- Viewing the candidates favourably: Ms. Clinton (49 per cent); Mr. Trump (41 per cent). Takeaway: The 2012 GOP presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, was at 44 per cent at this point of the primary season, as CNN points out.
- Viewing the candidates unfavourably: Ms. Clinton (49 per cent); Mr. Trump (56 per cent). Takeaway: the likely Republican nominee has alienated general election voters with his comments during the primary contests. Case in point: 64 per cent of women viewed him unfavourably.
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