Sunday, March 20, 2016

How New Jersey Could Decide GOP Nominee

From our friends at Save Jersey:

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog
The final vote tallies are still being tabulated, Save Jerseyans, but any way you slice it Donald Trump still had a yuuuge (sigh) night last Tuesday.

1,237 delegates by the July convention good?

The only honest answer: we still don’t know, and we might NOT know until New Jersey (yes, New Jersey) votes on June 7th.

Let’s walk through what we do know. For starters, Trump won around 40.3% (as of now) of the vote, on average, in the jurisdictions that cast GOP primary ballots on Tuesday representing an improvement from his 34.6% average from Super Tuesday back on March 1st. A solid plurality to be sure in what was a four man race before Rubio dropped out after taking it on the chin in his home base of Florida, but as head-to-head general election polls and personal popularity polling continues to show, the Donald is winning delegates but not necessarily the hearts of voters he’ll need to triumph over Hilldawg in November. The GOP continues to be badly decided with 60%-ish or more of Republican voters consistently voting for someone who isn’t an abrasive populist real estate marketing mogul with a bad tan and a disdain for details.

The bottom line? Notwithstanding large-scale and sustained #NeverTrump opposition, he’s likely at about 699 delegates as of this morning. More than half of the way there. We still need to see how a few more counts (notably Missouri) end up but a sizable delegate lead – 278 over Ted Cruz – is unambiguously good news for Trumpies.

The bad news for Trumpies is getting a whole lot less attention from a media hungry for the carnival-like atmosphere of a ratings-rich Trump vs. Clinton showdown.

Trump’s 699 delegates represent only about 47% of delegates awarded to date. By my math, in order to win on the first ballot in Cleveland, he’ll need to win something like 54% or better of remaining delegates in play. Momentum could trump math soon enough but 54%+ might be harder to do than you’d think with the front runner under-performing in the American West (where many voters still need to weigh in) and facing a partially-consolidated conservative opposition now that Marco Rubio is out and likely to endorse Ted Cruz. Donald Trump still hasn’t hit 50% or better in these contests (49.3% in Massachusetts was high high water mark) and he’s falling far short in most. Does Kasich give Trump trouble in the Midwest (e.g. Wisconsin) like he did in Ohio?

It’s also definitely worth considering that Cruz would’ve beaten Trump in at least two states last night – Missouri and North Carolina – if it had been a one-on-one race. Will we ever get to that point after Kasich’s Ohio stand?

This is where the Garden State comes in. For the reasons meticulously laid our for you above, Donald Trump MAY need to big wins in the proportional state of New York (April 19th) and winner-take-all New Jersey (June 7th) contest, and even big wins in his own backyard might not be enough to win on the first ballot, by the way, if he continues at his current pace.

What’s clear is that New Jersey’s 51 delegates are now officially far more likely than not to be strongly contested come the spring.

All the signs are there. I’m told Governor Christie’s lieutenants are already recruiting field operatives for the Trump campaign inside the Garden State. They can count just the same as we can, folks. You heard it here first: with Trump polling very well here, and having already won the Atlantic and Mercer county GOP endorsements, don’t be surprised to see Trump get put over the top by Christie’s home state notwithstanding the Governor’s own deep unpopularity. At the risk of sounding conspiratorial, maybe that’s why the Donald is trashing his chief endorser? To shore up his N.J. polling position?

If it plays out that way, Chris Christie will then – not without an ironic tinge – be able to claim having done more to help Trump than anyone else in the Republican Party; arresting Marco Rubio’s momentum in New Hampshire will look to have been only an appetizer.

If Trump doesn’t clinch? Either through losing N.J. or some combination of other mathematical setbacks?

Any theory pertaining to how Cleveland will end up is pure speculation.

“If we don’t have a nominee who can win on the first ballot, I’m for none of the above,” former Speaker John Boehnerreportedly told Politico. “They all had a chance to win. None of them won. So I’m for none of the above. I’m for Paul Ryan to be our nominee.” The former speaker endorsing the current speaker is news even if you hate them both. They’re not alone either at least in their desire for consensus conclusion. At least 36% of your fellow Republicans tell pollsters they’re firmly #NeverTrump. We won’t beat Hilldawg with that many defections.

The ball’s (likely) in your court, Garden State. Choose wisely.

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