Can Donald Trump be stopped from winning the Republican nomination? The answer is yes. Despite his big win over Marco Rubio in Florida and his narrow wins over Ted Cruz in Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina, he has not won a majority of delegates yet awarded — 661 at this writing, with several more to be added when Missouri and Illinois congressional-district totals are tabulated.
Any candidate needs to get a 1,237-delegate majority to be nominated. To get there, Trump needs to get a majority of delegates in the contests ahead. The March 15 results show how that could happen. For Republican voters who fear that Trump’s nomination would damage the party, the nation, or both, the question is what to do about it.
Trump has won 37 percent of their votes. Contrary to his suggestions, he hasn’t won huge majorities from first-time voters. But that’s given him 47 percent of the delegates. To see why, look at the March 15 results. If Ted Cruz had won the votes cast for either John Kasich or Marco Rubio in Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina, he would have beaten Trump and deprived him of dozens of delegates.
On Tuesday night an ebullient Kasich said he was going to Philadelphia, though Pennsylvania’s primary is April 26, six weeks hence. The obvious reason: The Philadelphia suburbs have lots of upscale voters, the only demographic among which Kasich has run well.
But the Philly suburbs cast only about one-fifth of Pennsylvania primary votes. In Ohio, despite his local popularity, Kasich lost every county along the Pennsylvania and West Virginia borders. He’s likely to do worse against Trump in demographically and attitudinally similar western Pennsylvania, which casts as many votes as the Philly suburbs.
Why didn’t Kasich talk about traveling elsewhere? Because the contests between now and April 26 are not in places favorable to him. He barely registered in a February poll in Wisconsin (voting April 5), where Republican suburbanites are much more conservative than those in most northern metro areas.
His boosters look to New York, which votes April 19. But its registered Republicans are less likely to be Ivy League liberals on cultural issues (they’re Democrats now) than Italian-American homeowners angry about high property taxes and corrupt local governments. Cruz might be competitive with Trump among such voters. Kasich would just split the vote and give Trump more delegates, as he did in Illinois.The final big contest is California on June 7. What happens there if the anti-Trump vote is split can be seen by looking back to 2008, when California voted early. John McCain won statewide with 42 percent, with the more conservative Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee getting 35 and 12 percent. But most California delegates are chosen winner-take-all by congressional district, and with split opposition McCain carried 48 of the 53 districts and thus won 155 of 170 delegates.
Many anti-Trump voters dislike Ted Cruz and regard him as self-serving (as they regard most senators). But if he is nominated, his interests and the party’s will align, at least temporarily. Republicans who want to stop Trump need to hold their noses, if necessary, and vote for Cruz.
— Michael Barone is senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. © 2016 The Washington Examiner. Distributed by Creators.com