Proverbial Chicken Counting: On Inevitability
Folks, first off, I apologize for not posting for a little bit. My time has been occupied. Second, as always, nothing in this post is meant to be an endorsement.
So, Indiana votes today and it looks like I probably shouldn’t have changed my mind on the predictions for the GOP convention. After Donald Trump’s win in every county last Tuesday, his delegate predictions started to look like a runaway. With something like 957 delegates pledged (and 54 more in Pennsylvania who would have to flaunt the obvious will of their state’s voters to go against Trump), the, now better-managed (we predicted that), Trump campaign focused in on Indiana.
Now, let’s not count proverbial unhatched chickens. Indiana’s polling may be wrong (but it’s probably not). Indiana apportions its delegates winner-take-all by Congressional District and Statewide. There are 57 delegates at stake (6 more than late-game New Jersey, as a point of reference). 30 will be awarded to the statewide winner and 27 are awarded out of Indiana’s nine Congressional Districts.
Here’s the caveat on Indiana before we dive into the predictions: Indiana’s polling may not be entirely concrete. Without offense to any Hoosiers in the audience, the state hasn’t mattered much in deciding the nominee of the Party, nor has it been a swing state in the Fall (when the race is actually close, that is. Obama won Indiana in 2008.).
Caveat aside, the RealClearPolitics average has Trump with a 10.8% lead over Ted Cruz (whose nation-wide momentum has seemed to sputter to a standstill). The good folks over at FiveThirtyEight (with whom I disagree from time-to-time) put Trump’s odds of winning this evening between 83 and 97%. So, if we’re going to be wrong, we’ll be wrong together when we project that Trump will win at least 30 of Indiana’s delegates.
Now, based on Trump’s strengths in neighboring states (and the fact that he has increased his winning percentages in demographically-friendly terrain), we’d think it’s a safe assumption that Trump will carry Indiana’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 6th districts handily. Cruz is the likely favorite in the 8th and 9th. This leaves the 4th, 5th, and 7th as “up for grabs.” The 7th will be the most interesting in our mind as it’s centered on Indianapolis and is one of the two districts that are currently in Democrat hands in Congress.
So, how does this factor into our projections? Well, all the caveats having been expressed, Trump is looking at a delegate spread from Indiana that is between 42 and 48 (then again he swept Maryland after we said that was unlikely, so…).
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So, Trump is coming into Indiana with 957 delegates. Our new projection has him winning the nomination outright with 1,263 pledged delegates (not including the unbound portion of the Pennsylvania delegation) by the close of voting on June 7th.
Obviously, if Trump secures a big win in Indiana, the media narrative becomes entirely focused on Trump as the GOP nominee. Certainly, California remains an open question in the GOP race, but polling is showing an increasing gap between Trump and his rivals. A win in Indiana will also go to show how powerfully Trump has changed the dynamic of the race from a month ago when some of us were predicting that his campaign was in free-fall.
While it’s best not to count proverbial chickens, we are now going to project that Trump will be the GOP nominee (albeit by a narrow-wish margin) after the last primaries on June 7th.