03 March 2016

Five Reasons Trump Is Weaker Than He Looks

or 'Why Super Tuesday wasn't as good to Trump as you think'

By Jonathan V. Last

There’s a classic scene in First Blood where John Rambo declares,
"Nothing is over! Nothing! You just don't turn it off!"

So let's go with that for a moment. You'll get no shortage of Trump-is-the-nominee talk today. At worst, he's in a very strong position. At best, he's the presumptive nominee. But even though I'm a born-pessimist, I'm not quite sure that I'm convinced by the best-case (for Trump) argument. So for the sake of argument, let's lay out the case for why Super Tuesday was not actually a campaign ender.

Everyone fixates on the number of states that Trump won tonight—and don't get me wrong, it's wildly impressive. Even more so when you consider how little money he's spent on the race.

But on the other hand, these victories should have been priced into Trump's stock. If you were looking at these races carefully 96 hours ago, you would have expected Trump to win nine, ten, or eleven states tonight. And the median-variant scenario for Trump probably had him coming away with somewhere between 280 and 300 delegates.

So Trump came close to covering the spread on states won—losing Texas, Oklahoma, and Minnesota and being very close in Vermont and Virginia. 

But he came in very short on the delegate count.

We won't know the exact numbers until Wednesday, but it looks as though Trump will, by some estimates, finish with somewhere in the neighborhood of 245 delegates. A week ago, that would have been a worst-case scenario for his Super Tuesday. It gets worse: Cruz won resounding victories in Texas and Oklahoma. He trails Trump in the delegate haul for the night by only about 60 delegates. And when you put together the not-Trump share, Rubio and Cruz (and Kasich) will top out around 320 delegates to Trump's 245 (or so). He's still falling way short of half the delegates.

There's more evidence of Trump weakness if you look closely: Why did he lose Oklahoma? Because it's the only state where the vote was restricted to actual Republicans...

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