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Republicans: Trump takes a clear delegate lead, Cruz and Rubio still the second tier

New Hampshire’s delegate rules are such that the winner gets a big bonus. (The details of how this works were discussed here last week.) So Trump’s approximately 36% of the vote turns into 55% of the delegates. Counting isn’t actually done yet, but if current trends hold, the delegate haul out of New Hampshire will be:

Trump 11, Kasich 3, Bush 2, Cruz 2, Rubio 2.

Adding these to the previous results in Iowa, and we have these new totals: Trump 18, Cruz 10, Rubio 9, Kasich 4, Bush 3, Carson 3, Fiorina 1, Huckabee 1, Paul 1.

In the form of a graph of the total delegates, we see this:

chart-36

Some groupings look apparent on this chart.

Trump is out by himself in the lead.

Cruz and Rubio make up a second tier, at about half of Trump’s level.

Kasich, Bush and Carson are the third tier. Way behind, but at least with multiple delegates.

Then finally Fiorina, Huckabee and Paul bringing up the rear with one delegate each. Two of these three have already dropped out. It will be surprising if the third does not do so soon.

How does this match what we’re hearing in the spin out of New Hampshire? Well, there is wide acknowledgment that Trump did have a nice win. But the majority of the attention still seems to have been on the race for second, and how that positions the anti-Trumps going forward.

Within that, relatively little attention was paid to Cruz, and he is still in 2nd. Rubio is being dismissed because he did badly in New Hampshire, but he is still in 3rd over all. Meanwhile lots of attention given to Kasich and Bush, but they are still stuck in the third tier with Carson with less than a handful of delegates.

Time to flip this and look at this in terms of my favorite metric, the “% of remaining needed to win”:

chart-37

Trump exceeded the 50.37% of the delegates he needed to get to improve his position. Going forward he needs 50.33% of delegates to be on a pace to win. That is a relatively small change. With almost 98% of delegates still to be determined, there is a huge amount of flexibility available here to all the candidates.

Given that Trump got 55% of the delegates in New Hampshire, that means however that NONE of the other candidates got what they needed, or even close. Essentially, every one of the non-Trump candidates fell further behind today.

Now, Trump still doesn’t have a majority of delegates. To be on a pace to actually win, rather than just to have the most delegates going into the convention, he needs to do better than he has so far. But he is far closer to that mark than any of the other candidates. And if he continues matching his New Hampshire results, he will win.

The story here continues to be that while Trump hasn’t managed a majority in any contest so far, the opposition is so divided that Trump still easily wins (New Hampshire) or at the very least comes very close (Iowa). Does this continue? Does it get worse?

Time to look at the next contest on the Republican side, South Carolina.

There have not been any South Carolina polls since before Iowa, so new polls are eagerly anticipated, but at the moment the RCP average has Trump at 36.0%, Cruz at 19.7%, Rubio at 12.7%, Bush at 10.0% and then everybody else.

Now, that may change. Specifically if either Rubio or Bush drop out that will scramble things a bit. But that may not happen. There is a case to be made for both of them sticking in at least through South Carolina.

Trump probably wins this. But by how much? Time to look at the delegate rules in South Carolina.

From Greenpapers:

  • 21 district delegates are to be allocated to presidential contenders based on the primary results in each of the state’s 7 congressional districts: each congressional district is assigned 3 National Convention delegates and the presidential contender receiving the greatest number of votes in that district will receive all 3 of that district’s National Convention delegates. [Rule 11(b)(4)]
  • 26 (10 base at-large delegates plus 16 bonus delegates) at-large delegates are to be allocated to the presidential contender receiving the greatest number of votes in the primary statewide. [Rule 11(b)(5)]
  • 3 party leaders, the National Committeeman, the National Committeewoman, and the chairman of the South Carolina’s Republican Party are pledged to the presidential contender receiving the greatest number of votes in the primary statewide.

If Trump wins by any margin, no matter how small, he gets 29 of the 50 delegates right up front. That already would give him 47 of the 100 delegates that would have been allocated in Iowa + New Hampshire + South Carolina.

Of course, in order to win the whole state, he would have had to have won some of the congressional districts too. Probably most of them. And so far in Iowa and New Hampshire, it doesn’t seem like there has been a lot of geographic lumpiness to Trump’s support. So he may well win ALL of the congressional districts. In that case Trump would walk out of South Carolina with all 50 of the available delegates. This is very possible.

In that scenario, after South Carolina, the overall delegate count would look like: Trump 68, Cruz 10, Rubio 9, Others 13

Trump would have a huge delegate lead. Even if he doesn’t win all 50, he will still have a very large delegate lead.

Nevada is three days after South Carolina. It is proportional, not semi-winner-take-all like South Carolina, but the latest polls still have Trump with a nice lead in Nevada. Those polls are old and out of date, but does anybody think two straight wins would hurt Trump’s position?

To “stop Trump” things have to move very quickly to a one on one with Trump vs Somebody. Maybe a three way race could do it, but might just be a recipe for a contested convention. But as long as we’re still looking at four or five candidates splitting the non-Trump vote, Trump wins.

But the non-Trumps still seem to be in a locked battle with each other for that anti-Trump one on one slot. And in doing so, they just let Trump win. The race will of course consolidate further. More candidates will drop out. Some may drop out before South Carolina. But it is unclear if that will be enough to let one of the others actually win in South Carolina.

Trump won New Hampshire. Trump looks like he will probably win the next two states. Things get more complicated once we get into March, but Trump would get there with a substantial lead.

Things are by no means settled yet. There is a long way to go. Even after we get past both South Carolina and Nevada 94.6% of delegates will still be up for grabs. There will still be time for the non-Trumps.

But if we only get consolidation down to 2 or three candidates after the March 1st contests, when 25.8% of the total delegates will be decided, the non-Trumps that are left may have a really tough uphill fight to catch up.

If consolidation doesn’t happen until after March 15th, 60% of the delegates will already have been decided, and it may just be too late. (Although if several non-Trumps are still strong at that point and Trump has the lead but not a majority, we’re looking at a contested convention, and that starts getting into completely different scenarios.)

But if the non-Trumps want to actually win, they have to stop fighting each other, some of them have to drop out, and they have to actually act like Trump is the frontrunner, and that their priority has to be bringing him down rather than each other. Otherwise they are done, and Trump ends up walking away with this.

Note: This post is an update based on the data on ElectionGraphs.com. Election Graphs tracks both a poll based estimate of the Electoral College and a numbers based look at the Delegate Races. All of the charts and graphs seen in this post are from that site. Additional graphs, charts and raw data can be found there. All charts above are clickable to go to the current version of the detail page the chart is from, which may contain more up to date information than the snapshots on this page, which were current as of the time of this post. Follow @ElectionGraphs on Twitter or like Election Graphs on Facebook to see announcements of updates or to join the conversation. For those interested in individual general election poll updates, follow @ElecCollPolls on Twitter for all the polls as they are added.

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