The road forward

Well, we are on from Wisconsin and Ted Cruz’s smashing victory over John Kasich and some other guy, you know, the orange-toned one with the bad hair and little hands.

Yet those who back Donald Trump point to states like New York and Pennsylvania as just the tonic to make Trump the comeback kid. You may have to take them with a grain of salt two to three weeks out, but polls suggest Trump should win his home state handily, perhaps finally cracking the elusive 50% barrier. They are obviously hoping New York gives them momentum to spring into the Northeast primary the next week, in which Maryland and Delaware are included. (The other states: Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Pennsylvania is currently polling with Trump ahead, but by a smaller margin than New York.)

The interesting factor in all of these races is John Kasich. The Ohio governor soldiers on with his 20 to 25 percent of the vote in the polls, but based on current RNC rules and delegate math has no shot whatsoever to win the nomination. His one-in-a-million shot is a hopelessly deadlocked convention much like the 1924 Democratic Convention that went to 103 ballots before selecting John W. Davis, who would go on to be routed by President Calvin Coolidge.

So the question for Kasich supporters becomes one of picking your poison. Although Kasich polls reasonably well in many of the remaining states, in no state does he have the lead. Those Kasich supporters who can stomach Donald Trump as the nominee will likely stick with their guy, since the general effect of a Kasich vote is to assist Trump and his normal 35 to 45 percent plurality. On the other hand, Kasich backers who are #NeverTrump would be much better off shifting their allegiance to Ted Cruz – in fact, Kasich underperformed his polling in Wisconsin by about five points, leading me to believe that about 1/4 to 1/3 of Kasich backers saw the writing on the wall and many shifted to Cruz, who outperformed as he often has. (Meanwhile, Trump was right there at 35 percent, which is around his average throughout the primary season.)

It’s been about a month since Maryland was polled on their preference, so long in fact that Marco Rubio was still in the race and polling fourth. Back then Donald Trump was at his usual 35% share (actually 34%) with Ted Cruz at 25% and John Kasich at 18%. It bears pointing out that at roughly the same juncture before the Wisconsin election a statewide poll had Trump leading by 10 over Rubio, 30-20, with Cruz a point back at 19 and Kasich at 8 with Ben Carson. In about 5 1/2 weeks after that, Carson and Rubio withdrew, Cruz gained 30 points while Kasich gained just 6 percentage points and Trump only 5. I wouldn’t expect the same results in Maryland, frankly, but I don’t think the state will be a runaway for Trump, either.

Yet while the state of Maryland divvies out its delegates mainly by whoever wins the Congressional district, making eight different races very important, the final 14 delegates go to the statewide winner. If you get a 4-4 split in Congressional districts – very possible in a close race – it’s the difference between winning the delegate count 26-12 or losing it by the same.

Thus, it may be a long night come April 26.

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