There’s been a lot of hand wringing after New York’s primary on April 19th. There was more than just a little cheering from the Manhattan based mainstream media (“We showed that Cruz guy what New York values really are!”).
Yes, Donald Trump did win 89 delegates. With 400,000 votes.
And no one should care.
The reaction to today’s results should be just the same. When the results roll in quickly tonight, guess what, Donald Trump will win in the neighborhood of 100 delegates (for those scratching their heads over that number, see “Pennsylvania” and “direct delegate elections.”).
That will put him in the neighborhood of 945 to 955 delegates in the pursuit of 1,237.
Being a competitive runner back in the day, this is akin to leading for 700m of an 800m race and realizing that you might have used all that’s in the tank to get to that point and then the next 100 meters were going to be a death march. Unfortunately, I had a few of those experiences.
The month of May is going to be a death march for Donald Trump.
He’s not going to win Indiana. Trust me on this one. Internals matter, public polling (as we have witnessed over and over again since January) does not.
If Trump wins 9 delegates in Indiana, that’s a good day for him. Sure, he might win a majority of the delegates out of West Virginia on May 10th to get in the neighborhood of 960 delegates. Then what? Nebraska? Forget about it. Those 36 all go to Cruz. Oregon? Yes, I am fully aware of the Cruz-Kasich detente regarding Oregon, but the majority of the delegates there are not going to Trump. The same in Washington State where most of its 44 delegates go to Cruz.
Montana and South Dakota? Cruz country. Trump will not win one of the 56 delegates from those two states combined.
New Mexico? Proportional and the latest poll had Trump up 2 points over Cruz with Kasich trailing badly. The game there is still afoot.
New Jersey-Trump will take all 51 (and no one will care).
And then the finale in California with 172 delegates. At this stage of the game, Trump likely be at or just past 1,050 delegates. Does 1,050 plus 172 get him to 1,237? No. Will he win 172 delegates in California? No.
So if you are playing the long game, what does today mean? Nothing. It is rightfully being dubbed the Acela primary (for those of you that live in real America, Google that one). It is full of states that will not be in play for a Republican this fall. As was New York. As New Jersey will be. Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Maryland-these are all states that went strongly for Obama in 2008 and 2012.
These are pyrrhic victories for Trump.
So, today matters little in this GOP primary. Indiana and California are the two that do matter and they matter a lot.
The mainstream media, eager for headlines, will be quick to say, “This is over, Cruz and Kasich are done.” They want Trump headlines.
61% of Republican voters, and by that I mean actual, registered Republican voters, don’t want Donald Trump as their nominee. The 39% that support Trump, and by that I mean the about 15% of Republican voters who rarely vote and the Independents and Democrats who crossed over in open primary states, might just find themselves on the morning of June 8th thinking, “Wait, I thought we’d won this?!”
This, my friends, is what we call in running “a receding finish line.” It happens when you have hit empty in the tank with enough of the race left that more than a few can pass you and the finish line seems to get further away with each stride.
The 800b gorilla is about to jump on Trump’s back and he’s going to start flailing down the finishing straight, complaining the entire time about a “rigged” system that has rewarded him 100% of delegates for winning 35% of the vote in some states. There is a very good chance that instead of crossing the finish line in first, Trump falls flat on his face.
What does this all mean?
Get ready for Cleveland.
Most already know this, but for those of you just tuning in, I do considerable work for the pro-Cruz super PAC, Trusted Leadership. What does that mean? I am only mostly objective.