Trump’s showing in New York is rather astonishing. It’s only somewhat better than predicted, but I always assumed he’d come up a bit short or more of what the polls and experts expected. What are all those people thinking? Well, for one thing, most of them think Trump can beat Clinton. How could that be?
Most of the minority group composed of those scared of Trump thought Kasich was the safe — if surely futile — choice. We now have evidence that Cruz is poison in a whole region of the country. Folks won’t choose him even as “never Trump.”
That doesn’t mean Cruz doesn’t remain the favorite for the nomination. As Nate Cohn says, all he has to do win Indiana to keep Trump from getting enough delegates to win on the first ballot, and that Cruz will almost surely do. From this view, Cruz can even lose California and still get nominated on the second ballot.
Let me repeat my own view that Cruz can’t get nominated with too much of a disconnect between primary outcomes and the delegate count. Given that his showing in New York was pathetic, and that it might be repeated in Pennsylvania and so forth, he has to win in California more than ever to deny Trump the nomination, no matter how industrious and rational he’s been in getting his guys selected as delegates in other states.
Why is that? You can talk all day about how Cruz has every right to use the strange, complicated, and varied delegate-selection processes to his advantage. And he does. Still, there’s no denying that the principle of legitimacy for the last generation has been “preferential proportional representation.” The convention is supposed to represent at least fairly closely the candidate preferences of the voters.
These ain’t the good old days when the convention was a deliberative body composed of party regulars. There is a reason why the strong majority of Republicans assume and expect that the convention will select the candidate who has prevailed in the primaries and caucuses
The choice of a contested convention is legitimate if the outcome of those contests is genuinely mixed and more than one candidate can claim the mantle of popular support. That Cruz will be able to do is he wins in California and a few other places in the final weeks. I still think Cruz will achieve that goal.
Muddying my thinking a bit is the newly disciplined and organized Trump, who we can expect will be less randomly self-destructive in the coming weeks.
So I now think that Cruz has two chances in three of being nominated. Trump one chance in four.
Sanders, meanwhile, needed to win New York and didn’t come close. He now has very little chance of being nominated, and his is a momentum-free environment.