Tuesday’s primaries in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio will award more than 358 delegates (367 including Guam). Of those, 174 will be awarded on a winner-take-all basis.
Delegate counts stand at Trump 460, Cruz 370, Rubio 163, Kasich 63 with 1,401 unallocated. That means 26 percent of the unallocated delegates will be bound on the first ballot tomorrow.
If Trump wins both Florida and Ohio, he will get at least 165 delegates (or by my model, 277), giving him 737 delegates, just 500 short of the magic 1,237. That would make it highly likely, barring a complete collapse, that Trump will be the nominee.
To prevent that, Kasich must take Ohio–with the state’s GOP in his corner, it would be an embarrassment for him not to. Cruz must do well in North Carolina and Missouri, and even Illinois, where he has a chance in the southern part of the state. And Florida, with well over a million votes already cast, may be a lost cause.
All the attention will be focused on Florida though, because it’s seen as Rubio’s one chance at redemption. It would take a miracle for him to win it, and a bigger miracle for Cruz, who acknowledged his head-fake in the state and left it for Rubio to win.
After Tuesday, consolidation must happen. There’s no ifs, ands or buts. Both Kasich and Rubio must exit the race, and swing behind Ted Cruz. Endorsements no longer matter except for a small bounce. Days of robocalling by Mitt Romney did absolutely nothing. Hoping in vain for a brokered convention with a candidate who has won one or two states coming out the nominee is a recipe for disaster for the party. It’s pure vanity.
The time for vanity is over. Either the race will consolidate to Cruz versus Trump, or Donald Trump will be the nominee. There is no middle ground. Cruz can beat Trump, and with the negatives piling up on Trump’s violence-ridden campaign, I believe Cruz will beat Trump.
The die is cast for Tuesday, and then it’s down to two men. If I wanted to be overly dramatic, I’d say to the death, and in a sense, it is: The death of the GOP as we know it. Either we will inherit an heir to the Reagan revolution in Cruz, or we will inherit the wind.