How Donald Trump Wins With No Contested Convention

First let’s take a look at the lay of the land.  Trump currently sits about 200 delegates ahead of Cruz (742 vs 533) and has about 2M more votes (8.2M vs 6.2M).  Also consider following facts and historical observations:

  • There are 16 contests left
    • All are primaries
    • Many are in the North East (7) and on the West Coast (3).
  • Cruz does not do as well in primaries (vs caucuses). When comparing primaries only the layout is as follows:


  • Cruz does not do as well in the North East.  The following are the totals for the North East contests so far, note Cruz’s only win in the NE is a caucus:


Now let’s look at how Trump rides to victory.  This is an estimate and I believe it could happen, but I do not know enough about each individual race to make the claim that it will happen exactly this way.

I looked at RealClearPolitics averages for states that had polling data available and I reviewed each remaining states delegate distribution rules.  Many of the states have a model like New York.  New York’s delegates are allocated as follows:

  • In New York 14 delegates go to the statewide winner
  • Each of the 27 congressional districts has 3 delegates. If a candidate gets 51% of the district, they get all 3.  If the candidate gets less, 1st place gets 2 delegates, 2nd places gets 1.
  • In New York, if Trump gets 45%, Kasich gets 30% and Cruz gets 25% of “district A”, Trump gets 2 delegates, Kasich gets 1, Cruz gets a big fat 0.
  • In other states, this process is similar, but sometimes the winner of a district gets all 3 delegates, regardless of the % of votes.

Proportional contests are as they sound.  As long as the candidates meets the threshold (between 0% and 20% depending on the state), they get the % of delegates, e.g. if Trump gets 40% of Oregon votes, he gets 40% Oregon delegates (providing Kasich and Cruz get above the threshold)

In addition to those two election types, there are 5 winner take all contests.

Let’s walk through the remaining states and estimate how they could map out.

  • New York on 4/19: I have Trump doing well, but I do not have him sweeping the state.  Needless to say, if he does sweep, hitting the magic number gets easier.  (68 for Trump)
    • Side note: once New York is over, if Cruz gets less than 18 delegates, he joins Kasich in the “cannot win” club.
  • 5 North Eastern States on 4/26: Of the 171 delegates up in those states, I have Trump winning about 60% of those, maybe I am being too generous to Kasich in some of these contests?  (101 for Trump)

At this point, Trump is at 919, 318 away from the magic number.  I believe I have been extra cautious and he will receive more than what I am guessing, but the good news is, if I am wrong, it will be that much easier for him to win.

  • Indiana on 5/3: There is no polling data available, but based on the rules and how Illinois and Michigan turned out I am giving Trump 45 of the 57 delegates.

At this point, Trump is at 961, 276 away from 1237.

  • The next states coming up are Nebraska and West Virginia on 5/10. Nebraska is winner take all.  I am giving Trump this victory.  West Virginia is a funnier system, but I believe Trump will kill in this state, and be able to win all the delegates.  (Trump 70 more)
  • Oregon and Washington on 5/17 and 5/24: These are tricky to guess, there is no polling or similar states to compare them to. To be safe I am giving Trump less than half of the total available.  (Trump 34)

At this point, Trump is at 1065, 172 away from the magic number, next up is California, plus the remaining 4 states.

  • Three off these states are winner take all:
    • New Jersey which is good news for Trump (51 delegates)
    • Montana 27 delegates, which I am giving to Cruz
    • South Dakota, I believe Trump can win (29 delegates)
  • New Mexico is proportional, I am splitting the 24 delegates between Trump and Cruz (12 for Trump)
  • California, 172 delegates. Based on everything listed above, Trump needs 80 (47%) of what is available.  My guess is he will get around 100, leaving him about 20 delegates over the threshold.

The good news is that the elections in the North East could be much more favorable to Trump then what I figured.  If he sweeps New York and Connecticut (and current polling suggests he could), he could lose all of Nebraska and South Dakota and still come out at 1230.  The key is the North East, those states represent 64% of the total delegates he needs to win.  If he sweeps those states (including New Jersey) and gets 100 in California (which is doable) he only needs 76 more, from the remaining 8 states and their pool of 279 delegates.  Here is a table showing my walk through in numbers:







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