As expected, Donald Trump has moved inexorably towards his goal of 1,237 delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
After last night, by my reckoning, he has 739 delegates to Cruz’s 465. Trump’s magic number to clinch is 498, with 876 unallocated delegates. RCP shows 839 unallocated, but I include Colorado in my tally, since they decide their allocation at their state convention in April.
Looking at the future, three key winner-take-all primaries hit at the end of April. Before that, 202 delegates are up for grabs (again, including Colorado). Trump could, on the high side, win another 115 or so, and Cruz may rack up 87 on the low end. That would put Trump on course to capture up to 1,252 delegates, more than enough.
But, should Cruz sweep Wisconsin, take some districts in New York, and keep Trump under 50 percent in Connecticut, the race will come down to the wire. Of course, Kasich could be a factor in the northern states, and in Indiana. If Kasich can keep Trump below 1,237 and keep Cruz well short, he could inherit his despicable wish to play spoiler in Cleveland.
At this point, it’s becoming very difficult to see a path to 1,237 for Cruz with Kasich in the race. If Rubio were to join Cruz, that could change. But every day he sits out, Rubio is giving Donald Trump more ammunition. At a minimum, Rubio should get on the trail and do what Mitt Romney has been doing: Record robocalls telling voters that a vote for Kasich is a vote for Trump.
The convention strategy Kasich embraces, and Rubio has not yet rejected, reminds me of the mid-credits scene in “Finding Nemo.” The aquarium fish succeed in reaching the ocean, only to find themselves sealed in plastic bags.
If we don’t see a break in the race soon, with Rubio making a real effort to back Cruz, we will arrive in Cleveland, #NeverTrump signs in hand, only to ask the question: “Now what?”