There have been so many Super Tuesdays so far this election cycle that we’ve already lost count. But the Super-est of the Super Tuesdays is very likely to be June 7, which happens to be the final day of the Republican presidential nominating contest.
That’s because Donald Trump is right on the cusp of accumulating the majority of delegates he needs to win the Republican nomination outright — avoiding a potentially messy convention fight in which the party tries to wrest the nomination from his definitely not-small-at-all hands.
But he’s pretty unlikely to get those 1,237 delegates he needs before June 7, when California is the big prize and five other states also vote.
We crunched the numbers and figured out that Trump would need to win a whopping 74 percent of the available delegates prior to that date. That includes the 652 delegates at stake in contests held between now and June 7, as well as the 104 delegates that haven’t yet been awarded from states that have already voted. Trump would need to win 559 of those 756 delegates.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, by contrast, wouldn’t even win the Republican nomination before June 7 if he won all 756 of those delegates.
Is it possible that Trump dominates for the next two months and wraps it up before the final day? Sure. The problem is that, while big, winner-take-all states gave Trump a boost Tuesday, the remaining winner-take-all states are smaller, and there are only seven of them.
There are several other, “winner-take-most” states where Trump could effectively win all of the delegates if he dominates. But again, he would need to dominate.
Secondly, there is some evidence to suggest that, as the nominating contest begins to take in more states in the West and Midwest, Trump doesn’t do quite as well as he did in the South or even the Northeast. Thus far, Cruz has actually won more delegates in the West, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich has won more in the Midwest.
Now, those two facts come with caveats. One is that few states have voted in the West, and two of Cruz’s victories came in sleepy caucus contests (we are including Alaska and Hawaii in this definition of the West), for the most part. Whether he can win primaries is another question, but he did win the first one on the calendar: Idaho.
And Trump’s deficit in the Midwest owes largely to Kasich having taking his home state of Ohio and all of its 66 delegates — the only state he has won. What’s more, Trump’s wins in Michigan and Illinois portend good things for such states as Pennsylvania, Indiana and Wisconsin, which have yet to vote.
But there are plenty of open questions there. And as we said Friday morning, Trump has very much demonstrated that he has a ceiling in this race. He has yet to win a majority of the votes in any given state.
And now that Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is out of the race, that could start to become more of the problem. Trump could break through that ceiling and really dominate a two- or three-candidate race going forward. But if he can’t, we’re headed for the final day of the primary season — when each of California’s 53 congressional districts will separately determine whether this thing goes all the way to the Republican National Convention.
Philip Bump contributed to this post.