Donald Trump has won three of the first four states in the GOP primary. No candidate has ever failed to win the nomination after winning three of the first four states, even though 46 states, five territories, and D.C. have yet to have a say. Let me post a question this way. If it was any other candidate, wouldn’t we have a narrower field by now? Maybe, maybe not.
The 2012 Primary
In 2012, when Iowa cast its votes, there were only seven candidates left in the race. Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, Thad McCotter, and Gary Johnson had dropped out, and Buddy Roemer and Fred Karger were the Jim Gilmores of their time. So little support that they don’t really count. Iowa was a virtual tie between Romney and Santorum. It was after a recount three weeks later that we learned Santorum had won by 34 votes.
Bachmann dropped out after Iowa, so the field was down to six. Romney won New Hampshire, and then Huntsman and Perry dropped out. The Republicans were down to four candidates after two states. Gingrich won South Carolina, and Romney won Florida (which was the fourth state to go in 2012) and these had all happened in January. I’m personally grateful in hindsight that they moved the schedule back a month.
Eight states voted in February. Romney won five; Santorum won three. Ron Paul was determined to go to the end, and after he managed to snag most of the delegates in Iowa even though he took third, it looked like he might be able to use the rules to get more than he’d earned in other states. Gingrich bitterly clung to his South Carolina win and his team tried to get Santorum to drop out while Santorum’s team tried to get Gingrich to drop out.
Through March, Romney won more states than Santorum, while Gingrich’s only other win was Georgia. Santorum, although in second place and having won eleven states, dropped out in April, while Gingrich didn’t do so until May. Ron Paul went to convention, but Romney had already handily secured enough delegates to win.
The Path Forward Now
So in 2016, we had sixteen candidates at one point (and Gilmore). We had eleven when Iowa voted, we had eight when New Hampshire voted, we had six when South Carolina voted and now we have five. It’s pretty clear there’s no path to victory for Ben Carson or John Kasich, but they’re still here.
Rubio and Cruz could be the Santorum and Gingrich of 2016. Their fans can’t stand the front-runner, but they don’t necessarily like each other either. I will say this. If these four Republicans really don’t want Trump to win the nomination, then the three who are on the bottom in the delegate count after Super Tuesday should drop out. Rubio and Cruz are tied right now.
I think that unless he bombs in the debate this week, it’ll be Rubio.
From the Nevada exit polls, voters were asked which of four qualities were most important to them in a candidate. 24% of them selected “Can win in November” and Rubio got 50% of that vote. When it came to voters who’d made up their mind that day (9%), Rubio was 1st with 30%. For the voters who’d decided in the last few days (14%), Rubio was 1st with 40%. For those who’d decided more than a month ago (49%), Trump was 1st with 59%. Trump has his fans and they aren’t going anywhere, but it’s still not a majority.
From the South Carolina exit polls, a similar pattern. 15% selected “Can win in November” and they went 47% for Rubio. Those who’d made up their mind that day (16%) went 25% for Rubio, 25% for Cruz. Those who’d decided in the last few days (23%) went 29% for Rubio. Those who’d decided more than a month ago (30%) went for Trump (56%).
As these elections gets closer, I think more voters are starting to look at those head-to-head matchup polls.
From Fox News, if the matches were
Clinton (47), Trump (42)
Clinton (44), Rubio (48)
From Quinnipiac, if the matches were
Clinton (44), Trump (43)
Clinton (41), Rubio (48)
Now Sanders does better than Clinton in those match-ups, but I don’t think enough Democrats are concerned about that. They’re confident Hillary can beat Donald. I also don’t think these numbers do anything for most Trump supporters.
So far, there have so far been 133 delegates won, and 8 of them are for candidates who’ve dropped out. There will be 689 delegates available this Tuesday, and polls indicate most will go to Trump. Below is who has what the average of the most recent polls for each state.
Arkansas – 40 delegates – Cruz 27, Rubio 23, Trump 23
Georgia – 76 delegates – Trump 33, Rubio 22.5, Cruz 19.5
Massachusetts – 42 delegates – Trump 50, Rubio 16, Kasich 13
Minnesota – 38 delegates – Rubio 23, Cruz 21, Trump 18
Oklahoma – 43 delegates – Trump 29.5, Cruz 22.5, Rubio 21
Texas – 155 delegates – Cruz 33.7, Trump 25.7, Rubio 16
Vermont – 16 delegates – Trump 32, Rubio 17. Cruz 11
Virginia – 49 delegates – Trump 28, Rubio 22, Cruz 19
Alabama – 50 delegates – No recent polls
Alaska – 28 delegates – No recent polls
Colorado – 37 delegates – No recent polls
North Dakota – 28 delegates – No recent polls
Tennessee – 58 delegates – No recent polls
Wyoming – 29 delegates – No recent polls