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My Turn 3-13
Will Donald Trump triumph?
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Last Tuesday’s GOP presidential contests in Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, and Mississippi went swimmingly for billionaire businessman and frontrunner Donald Trump. He won a total of 71 delegates. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz came in second with 56, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich was a distant third with 17. The biggest loser was Florida Senator Marco Rubio. His delegate count was a big old goose egg.
With the “Ides of March” contests looming Tuesday in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio, It could be “Rubio’s Rubicon.” If he loses his delegate-rich and “Winner Take All” home state of Florida, he has two chances of further success in the race: slim and none.
John Kasich faces a similar challenge in his home state of Ohio. He needs to win there to remain in the race. Second place won’t work because the Ohio Primary is also “Winner Take All.”
As of this writing, Trump is clearly in the “catbird seat,” so to speak. He’s already thinned the herd way down from 17 GOP aspirants to a mere four. He has 458 delegates in the bag, and that “trumps” the rest of the candidates still standing. Cruz is hot on his heels and closing the gap, with 359 delegates. Rubio is a distant third and fading fast with 151 delegates. Kasich is dead last, with just 54.
With more than 350 GOP delegates up for grabs, Tuesday could come down to a two-man race between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. However, Marco Rubio has vowed to stay in all the way to the National Convention. And John Kasich has hinted he will do the same.
The GOP delegate math for Tuesday is both complicated and tricky. For example, only two of the five states in contention are “Winner Take All.” As I understand it, Illinois is “Winner Take Most,” while Missouri and North Carolina are “proportional.” Even a few crumbs for Rubio and Kasich could feed their ego for at least a few more rounds, even with all the odds against them.
As a reminder to my legions of astute and attentive readers, the magic number of delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination for President of the United States is 1,237. With 1,435 still available, Trump needs 779 more to win. Cruz needs 878, Rubio needs 1,086, and Kasich needs 1,183.
While the delegate math to date favors the frontrunner Donald Trump, the politics of the matter may lean toward a contested GOP National Convention. In turn, a bitter battle for delegates there could lead to a further shattering of the Republican Party.
A deeply divided Republican Party in November would be a sweet dream for the Democrats and a self-inflicted nightmare for the GOP. It could help usher in a liberal Democrat to the White House and result in Republican losses in key Senate and House races around the country.
The late entry of a disgruntled “third party” candidate would be even worse for the GOP come November. More later on the likelihood of that happening.
Retired Army Col. Thomas B. Vaughn can be reached at