Today’s crucial primaries have the power to make or break Trump’s campaign; we explain how.
Writing in the Chicago anti-Trump protest afterglow, a nervous silence draws over the American political landscape as the nation holds its collective breath. The primary elections on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 has a Shakespearean quality, and not only because the plebs are casting ballots on the Ides of March. This bundle of primary elections are the most important of the campaign thus far and may prove decisive for Donald Trump, or historic for America.
The outcome of voting in these key states will either be the end of Donald Trump’s White House hopes or the beginning of his general election contest against Democratic presumptive Hillary Clinton.
The reason the Ides of March spell either death or coronation for “Caesar” is that it’s the first time states allocate their “delegates” disproportionally. Florida and Ohio are “winner takes all” and Illinois is “winner takes most.” Right now, Trump has 460 delegates, Cruz 369, Rubio 163, and Kasich 63. If Trump won all three of these states, his nomination would be incontestable. But that is highly unlikely to happen, and here’s why:
First, Florida with its 99 delegates is Senator Marco Rubio’s home state. Second, Rubio’s Super PAC is spending around $10 million on attack ads. Third, there is an unofficial détente between Rubio and Cruz in Florida. Fourth, John Kasich is the (popular) sitting Governor of Ohio with its 66 delegates. Fifth, while Trump has been crisscrossing the east of the country trying to generate forward momentum in states like North Carolina, Missouri, and Illinois, Kasich has focused exclusively on his home state. Sixth, the Republican establishment is trying everything, up to and including self-immolation, to ensure Trump doesn’t become the nominee.
There are three possible outcomes of March 15.
- Donald Trump is the clear winner.
- Donald Trump wins some, not all states.
- Trump is the big loser of the night.
Here’s what I think happens under each category. (Oh, and don’t worry, I’ll tell you what I think the most likely outcome is later on … I’m studying the most recent polls very closely.)
- If Trump is the clear winner on the Ides of March, consider his nomination a fait accompli. Caesar spins around in Pompey’s Theatre, faces his would-be assailants, and soaks his robes in their blood.
- If Trump wins Florida and North Carolina but loses Ohio to Kasich and Illinois and Missouri to Cruz, then we’re heading to a “brokered convention.” Caesar decides not to enter the theatre, preferring to defer the bloodbath until July 18, 2016 in Cleveland. Under this scenario, the remainder of the primary season will resemble what has preceded it: a car crash in slow motion.
- If Trump is the big loser—say he wins only Missouri and/or North Carolina—it’s the beginning of the end. Caesar thrashes around, caught in his own bloody cloth, while the senators steal off into the night.
By now you want to know what’s going to happen, right? I’m not surprised. Well, here’s the latest on the polling in Ohio, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina.
Kasich will likely win Ohio. The latest polling has Kasich up by five percent. The Governor has a 79 percent job approval rating (one of the highest in the country). Trump also has one of his highest disapproval ratings in Ohio, with 26 percent of respondents saying they would rather vote for Hillary Clinton if he became the nominee.
Chicago is not that far from Ohio and the recent violence of the anti-Trump protests is going to drive any undecideds against Donald. The fact that Kasich is the sitting governor should tell you a little about Ohioans—they are more moderate, sensitive, and conservative voters—not Trump’s lane at all.
Prediction: Kasich 44 percent, Trump 21 percent, Cruz 21 percent, Rubio 14 percent
Trump squeaks a win in Florida. The worst poll for Trump still has him up by six percent. Trump leads across all age ranges. Anywhere between 10 percent to a third of voters have already voted (Florida allows early voting), so they voted before the Chicago disaster. Rubio’s only lead is the 18-29 age range, representing only 10 percent of the voting population. Trump leads in every ideological category: from very liberal to very conservative.
Prediction: Trump 33 percent, Rubio 30 percent, Cruz 23 percent, Kasich 14 percent
Cruz will likely win Illinois. Although polling from a week ago had Trump up by about 10 percent, recent events in Chicago will influence greatly. Around 15 percent of voters are undecided—they aren’t going to vote for Trump anymore. Illinois also has a high proportion of college-educated voters, a higher median income, and less older voters: demographics that have not favored Trump in the past.
Prediction: Cruz 35 percent, Trump 24 percent, Kasich 24 percent, Rubio 17 percent
Cruz will likely win Missouri. There is extremely scant polling for the state. The one poll conducted a week ago had Trump by seven percent. However, Cruz has notoriously outperformed the polls in the central region, taking the border states of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Iowa.
Prediction: Cruz 44 percent, Trump 30 percent, Kasich 16 percent, Rubio 10 percent
Trump will likely win North Carolina. Polling has Trump up by 12 percent. Donald won South Carolina by a huge margin, as well as every border state surrounding NC. Around 20 percent of North Carolinians may have already voted. Trump leads in every single polling metric; from age, to sex, ideology, income, and education. The two most important issues are national security and the economy—key policy strengths for DJT.
Prediction: Trump 34 percent, Cruz 31 percent, Rubio 20 percent, Kasich 15 percent
Conclusion? We’re off to a brokered convention—the carnage continues as the chaos careers to Cleveland, Ohio on July 18, 2016.
Or, in the words of the immortal bard …
Caesar: “The Ides of March are come.”
Soothsayer: “Ay, Caesar; but not gone.”