A plea to my friends in Florida who want to stop Donald Trump
See my updated statistics as of 3/13/16 below.
If you want to see Ted Cruz win the nomination, the best possible vote you can cast in Florida on March 15th is for Marco Rubio.
I have many friends who love Ted Cruz. I am not here endorsing any candidate. I love Ted Cruz as a presidential candidate. I am torn between him and Rubio who might not be as good a Constitutionalist as Cruz, but certainly better than Trump. So far, Cruz is second in delegate count nationwide.
So who should I vote for in Florida?
Here’s why. Florida is a winner-take-all primary state. Florida has 99 delegates. If Marco Rubio wins Florida, it will likely keep the nomination from Donald Trump. Then either Rubio or Cruz will likely get the nomination. Without those 99 delegates, Trump will not win the nomination on the first ballot.
On March 12th, Wyoming and Washington D.C. held primaries.
In Wyoming, 22 delegates are “unbound” and may vote for whoever they want. Among bound delegates chosen, Ted Cruz got 9 while Marco Rubio and Donald Trump got one each. The state’s other 29 delegates will be awarded at the state convention next month.
In the Washington D.C. primary, Rubio got 10 of the delegates, Kasich got 9, Trump and Cruz got none.
In a bizarre twist, the Virgin Islands chose no delegates because of confusion over the primary rules. Their 9 delegates will go to the convention unbound and may commit to candidates later in the process.
This is significant because this takes another small bite out of the remaiing delegate left to be chosen. Since Trump lost both contests, the hill to climb gets steeper to get to 50 percent plus one of the needed delegates.
An interesting yet little known fact is that according to new Republican Party rules, there now will be 121 “unbound” delegates because their states’ and territories’ – North Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, American Samoa and Guam – delegates are chosen at state convention without reference to voters’ views on the presidential candidates.
Here is the delegate count as it stands on 3/13/2016.
Delegates needed to win GOP nomination: 1,237
(50% plus 1 of 2,472)
Dropped out candidates: 15
If Rubio wins Florida, then his remaining opponents only need to hold Trump to less than 59 percent of the remaining delegates. Trump has won only 43 percent of the delegates that have been chosen so far. The likelihood of forcing a contested vote at the Republican Convention in July becomes much higher with a Rubio win in Florida.
Total delegates: 2472
Delegates needed to win GOP nomination: 1237
Delegates alloted so far: 1071
Delegates left to be chosen: 1401
Delegates left minus unbound delegates: 1280
Delegates alloted to Trump (by March 13th): 460
Delegates Trump still needs: 777
Winner take all delegates in Florida: 99
Delegates left minus Florida: 1302
Delegates left minus Florida and unbound delegates: 1181
Percentage of delegates won by Trump so far: 43%
Percentage of remaining delegates Trump needs: 55.4%
Percentage Trump would need with Florida win: 42.9%
Percentage Trump would need with Florida loss: 59.7%
Percentage Trump needs without Florida’s and unbound delegates: 65.8%
Simply put, a win in Florida puts Trump on pace to win the nomination. In fact, he only needs to get close to 1237 because most unbound delegates would probably vote for Trump to avoid a contested convention. However, a loss in Florida makes it virtually impossible for him to get to 1237. Even with a slew of delegates from winner-take all states, he would most likely still fall short of the mark. Then ,more the unbound delegates might be swayed to go other candidates’ columns.
This is why you will see Florida become “ground zero” for the next week with Trump and the mainstream media calling for Rubio to quit a few days before the primary. Cruz supporters need to understand that this is precisely why Rubio should not quit.
This same principle will be compounded if anyone other than Trump gets a large winner-take-all state such as California or Ohio. If you want to defeat Trump and you live on a winner-take-all state, then you should vote strategically even if it is not for your favorite candidate.
In a proportional state, you should vote for who you consider the best candidate for the presidency. However, in the winner-take-all states, this changes entirely.
Florida is also a closed primary state, meaning that Democrats and Independents can’t vote in the Republican primary. It’s been shown that states such as Massachusetts where Trump won big had huge numbers of Democrat and Independent crossover voters to the Republican primary. As we get close to the March 15th primary, the polling is likely to get tighter between the top two candidates.
Why not Cruz to beat Trump in Florida?
I’m not trying to get Cruz supporters to be for Rubio to win the nomination.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that Cruz is 20 points behind Trump in the polls as all polls suggest. Let’s say Rubio is within the margin of error to beat Trump as several polls suggest. The polls are sometimes wrong, but the average of all recent polls several days before an election is never off by 20 points.
Knowing that a win for Rubio — even by one point — could block Trump and give Cruz a much better chance at the nomination, would Cruz supporters still want to back Cruz knowing that Trump would get the 99 delegates and win the nomination more easily?
Those 99 delegates are actually a swing vote of 198 delegates. Not only would it keep 99 from Trump, but in a contested convention with Cruz in the lead, Rubio would more likely throw his support behind Cruz in the second ballot. The delegates would be free to vote for whoever they wanted, but a Cruz-Rubio ticket would likely unite a majority.
Those 99 delegates are going to be huge. Florida is the second largest winner-take-all state. California will be the largest in June.
Yes, if the situation were reversed and Cruz had a chance to beat Trump and Rubio was 20 points behind at the midnight hour, I’d tell everyone to vote for Cruz. I think that situation is much less likely, but it holds true.
The reality is that after March 15th, there will be more winner-take-all states like Florida — and many threshold states in which only candidates who get at least 20 percent of the votes are alloted delegates. We have two Tea Party conservatives in Cruz and Rubio who might be splitting more than 50 percent of the vote in Florida. Yet Trump could win with between 30 to 40 percent.
If Trump wins all 99 Florida delegates, he’s likely going to become the nominee.
So I am asking Cruz supporters to be wise. If Rubio wins Florida, Trump likely won’t get enough enough delegates to win on the first ballot. It could help Cruz win the nomination if he remains in close second place throughout the end of the primary season. But first Trump must be stopped in Florida.
As we get closer to March 15th and the Republican deabte next Thursday in Miami, more people are going to realize that when I am saying here is true. That could mean Rubio will win a lot more easily than the polls taken in February and early March suggest.
How the Delegate Count Works
- The first states to hold primaries, as usual, will be Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Voters in those states will go to the polls in February under the party rules passed in 2014. States that attempt to jump ahead of those four states will be punished with the loss of delegates.
- States that hold their primaries between March 1 and March 14, 2016, will award their delegates on a proportional basis, meaning that no one candidate could likely win the nomination before late-voting states get to hold their primaries. Most of these states have a threshold for receiving delegates, which makes it likely that the front runner will get the majority.
- Most states voting on March 15, 2016, or later will award their delegates on a winner-take-all basis. Some delegates are unbound, but they usually vote with the state winner or with the national front-runner.
In a four-way race, it is mathematically possible to get a majority delegate count with a small minority/plurality. In the winner-take-all primary states, you don’t need a majority to win all the delegates. In fact, in these states, it is mathematically possible to get 100 percent of the delegates with 25.1% of the popular vote in a close four-way race.
Here are the major states still to come that have winner-take-all and threshold qualification contests.
- California — 172 — June 7, 2016 (winner-take-all statewide and by district)
- Florida — 99 — March 15, 2016 (winner-take-all)
- New York — 95 — April 19, 2016 (proportional with 20% threshold)
- North Carolina — 72 — March 15, 2016 (proportional)
- Pennsylvania — 71 — April 26 (winner-take-all)
- Illinois — 69 — March 15, 2016 (winner-take-all)
- Ohio — 66 — March 15, 2016 (winner-take-all)
- Arizona — 58 — March 22, 2016 (winner-take-all)
- Indiana — 57 — May 3, 2016 (winner-take-all statewide and by district)
- Missouri — 52 — March 15, 2016 (winner take all above 50% or by district)
- New Jersey — 51 — June 7, 2016 (winner take all)
Most of these are winner-take-all or threshold states. If Cruz and Rubio supporters will vote strategically in the March 15th primaries, Trump will not get the delegates he needs to win the nomination on the first ballot.