Marco Rubio’s stubborn and quite deluded commitment to stay in the race through Florida (and beyond) has cast the die for Donald Trump to rule Tuesday. We may now be committed to a messy and damaging convention floor fight–if indeed it gets to that.
It likely won’t. Here’s why.
Focusing on just 5 states for Tuesday (disregarding territories), there are 358 delegates to be awarded. I’ve mapped two possible scenarios, labeled “scenario 1” and “scenario 2.” I consider scenario 1 to be the more likely outcome.
This leaves Trump well over the halfway point to 1,237, with Wisconsin, New York, and Pennsylvania likely to go his way. By the time we get to California, it will be over and voters will coronate Trump.
Scenario 2 has Rubio somehow magically winning Florida (it’s likely he’s already lost based on early voting).
Rubio will still be 147 delegates behind Cruz. I even modeled Kasich taking Ohio, further depriving Trump of delegates. It puts Cruz within striking distance, but Kasich and Rubio would then immediately have to drop out after their wins. That seems unlikely.
The maddening part of this is what I wrote above, parenthetically. Early voting in Florida has been extremely heavy. As of Tuesday, more than 1 million votes have been cast. Even if Rubio somehow overwhelmingly takes the election day haul, it could be another Louisiana–where Cruz won election day but Trump beat him before the first ballot was cast that day. Except in Louisiana, it helped Cruz. In Florida, it won’t matter one bit.
The likely outcome is that Trump will take both Florida and Ohio, Rubio will get less than 20 delegates, Cruz will be denied a chance to make this a close race, and Trump will walk into Cleveland the winner.
Rubio fans will blame Cruz for this because he chose to compete in Florida (that makes zero sense given what I just wrote above). But in reality, it will be Rubio who has sunk this race for himself, and for Cruz.
When it’s over, he will get a participation trophy, a ticket back to Miami, and lifetime membership in the Coulda-Been Club.