The Corner

Politics & Policy

Is Ted Cruz Going to Be Able to Pull This Off?

From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Is Ted Cruz Going to Be Able to Pull This Off?

Right now, as a #NeverTrump guy, I’m rooting hard for Ted Cruz. We haven’t seen any polls conducted after Rubio’s departure from the race – either in key upcoming states or nationally – so we don’t have a good sense of whether anti-Trump Republicans are coalescing around him.

Tuesday Arizona holds its primary and Utah holds its caucus. At first glance, those are natural Cruz states, right?

[Cue ominous music.]

Notice that we’ve had two polls of Arizona Republicans – you know, not too far from Texas* – and Trump’s well ahead of Cruz in both. The two polls were conducted before Rubio dropped out, so maybe Rubio’s 10 to 12 percent will shift to Cruz and help the Texas senator make up the deficit of… 12-14 points. Uh-oh.

The last Utah poll was in mid-February, and had Rubio 24, Cruz 22, Trump 18. Caucuses usually have low turnout, but the Utah one may turn out quite different:

For its presidential preference caucus next week, the Beehive State’s Republican Party will allow any Utahn outside or inside the state to vote online. This will be the first time any political party has allowed online voting for a presidential primary election in the nation.

“We’re stepping out on the national stage in a way we never have before,” Bryan J. Smith, the executive director of the Utah Republican Party, said during a recent Utah caucus preparatory meeting. “This time it matters in more ways than you think.”

The Utah Republican Party said its new method of voting will mainly help families, workers, missionaries and military workers throughout the world, who can’t be in town for voting. It also may help Utah mothers, who find themselves swamped with child care and work.

A week from now, if Trump wins Arizona and Cruz wins Utah… do people begin to doubt whether Cruz can win a one-on-one race against Trump? Or do anti-Trump Republicans begin to really turn their ire against John Kasich for sticking around?

Politico reports, “Marco Rubio is close to endorsing Ted Cruz, but the two proud senators — and recent fierce rivals — have some details to work out first. Cruz has to ask for the Rubio’s endorsement, and both sides need to decide that it will make a difference, according to sources familiar with the thinking of both senators.”

If you’re Cruz, why wouldn’t you ask?

Meanwhile, one more ominous note for the #NeverTrump forces. According to the Associated Press count, Trump has 678 delegates, and needs 1,237. He’s 559 delegates away from winning the nomination, and 1,059 remain. Can Trump win 53 percent of the remaining delegates?

Even if you feel confident in saying “no, Trump won’t win that many delegates” – and yeah, that’s a high bar to clear going forward – so far Trump has won about 46 percent of the delegates available so far. (He’s done so with 37 percent of the votes cast in Republican primaries and caucuses so far.) Assume Trump maintains his current level of support throughout the rest of the process, and he’ll get 46 percent of the remaining 1,059 delegates. That gives him 492 more delegates.

Trump would enter the convention in Cleveland with 1,170 delegates, just 67 short of what he needs. (It’s easy to picture Trump’s first phone call going to John Kasich, currently sitting there with 144 delegates.) Yes, you might hear talk or calls for a Cruz-Rubio ticket, but Trump will argue, with justification, he’s won 94 percent of what was needed to be the nominee.

Derailing Trump will require a big surge from Cruz from here on out. Can he do it?

* Rule one: Look at a map before writing about which states are next to each other. Rule two: Don’t write sentences like this before coffee.

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