Can Donald Trump Be Stopped on Critical Primary Night? - Rolling Stone
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Can Donald Trump Be Stopped on Critical Primary Night?

After Tuesday’s primaries, we’ll have a better idea whether Trump will have to fight for the nomination at the convention

Donald Trump; Florida; Ohio; illinois; missouri; GOP; Primary; 2016Donald Trump; Florida; Ohio; illinois; missouri; GOP; Primary; 2016

If Donald Trump loses both the Ohio and Florida primaries Tuesday, the chances increase that he won't be able to cinch the Republican nomination.

Gene J. Puskar/AP

The day of reckoning is upon us. There are six Republican contests on this Super Tuesday sequel, with 367 delegates up for grabs. By Wednesday morning, 1,423 of a possible 2,460 Republican delegates will have been awarded. We won’t know decisively who will get the nomination — no candidate will be close enough to the magic 1,237 threshold (that’s half the delegates plus one) to clinch it — but we will have a pretty good idea whether Donald Trump will have to fight for it on the convention floor come July.

Three of Tuesday’s contests are winner-take-all: Florida, Ohio and the Northern Mariana Islands. If Trump sweeps all of those, he’ll have a good chance of amassing the delegates he needs to become the GOP nominee. But if he loses Ohio and Florida, the chances increase that he won’t be able to hit the 1,237-delegate mark, opening the door for a contested convention.

All eyes are on Ohio and Florida, but Illinois and Missouri could play significant roles in Tuesday’s outcome as well — in recent days Ted Cruz has been ramping up appearances and ad buys in both states, while functionally abandoning Ohio and Florida to Kasich and Rubio, respectively.

Here’s what to watch for in each state (and one territory).

Northern Mariana Islands
Nine delegates (winner-take-all)

The results from the caucuses in the Northern Mariana Islands are already in: Donald Trump will take all nine of the territory’s delegates. No polls were taken, but Trump had been widely expected to win the contest since the islands’ governor endorsed him a few days ago. Jason Osborne, executive director of the Northern Mariana Islands GOP — and a member of Trump’s delegate-selection team and former advisor to Ben Carson — helped deliver the endorsement.

99 delegate (winner-take-all)

Florida looks to be the hill Marco Rubio will die on. He’s spent the last two weeks campaigning almost exclusively in his home state — and polls have shown his support rapidly eroding even as he does. Most surveys taken this month have had Trump up by 20 points or more. Some of the more recent numbers have even shown Ted Cruz pulling ahead. That’s a particularly dispiriting data point, considering that the Cruz campaign has pulled its ads off Florida airwaves and the candidate has stopped making appearances in the state. There is at least one bright spot for Rubio going into Tuesday: early voting turnout has been high in Miami-Dade County, a stronghold for him.

66 delegates (winner-take-all)

As Rubio’s numbers have slipped in Florida, #NeverTrump-ers have pinned their hopes on John Kasich and Ohio. Most polls taken this month show the Ohio governor edging out Trump by a few points, but some have shown the pair in a dead heat. If Trump wins Florida but loses Ohio, he would have to win 60 percent of the remaining delegates in order to make it to 1,237. (Going into Tuesday’s primaries, he had won roughly 44 percent.) Rubio, who polls at an average of four points in Ohio, has asked his supporters to throw their weight behind Kasich in the interest of stopping Trump.

North Carolina
72 delegates (proportional)

Trump is up by 12 points in North Carolina, but since the state splits its delegates proportionally, he will share his haul with Cruz, Kasich and Rubio.

69 delegates

Trump leads the field in Illinois — he’s up an average of six-and-a-half points against Ted Cruz and 17.5 points against John Kasich in polls taken this month — but there are signs he’s deeply worried about his fortunes in the state. Just this week, Politico reported that Trump’s Illinois state director had been fired for failing to coordinate a comprehensive ground game for the campaign. This could be very good news for Cruz and Kasich. Illinois also has some idiosyncratic rules that could put a dent in Trump’s delegate haul: The winner of the statewide vote takes 15 delegates, but voters decide who gets the remaining 54 by voting for up to three candidates.

52 delegates

Missouri will be a wildcard on Tuesday. A single poll has been conducted in the state; it showed Trump grabbing 36 percent of the vote, seven points more than Cruz, 27 ahead of Rubio and 28 up on Kasich. If these results are wrong and a groundswell of support for Trump hoists him above 50 percent of the vote, he could conceivably take all 52 of Missouri’s delegates. If the poll is right, he’ll receive 12 delegates and likely split the rest (which are awarded district by district), mostly with Ted Cruz.


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