Republican front-runner Donald Trump remains on a roll, racking three of four more states Tuesday night and adding to his lead in delegates. Trump’s recent performance now making the Illinois primary critical to those who wish to stop him from earning the nomination outright.
It’s all about the math.
While much has been made of the complexity of delegate math, there is a very simple way to look at it. For Trump to be the outright Republican nominee, he has to win 50% of the delegates plus one.
March 15th potentially gives the businessman candidate a nearly insurmountable path to achieving that if he does well here. That’s because while Illinois is not a ‘winner-take-all’ state like Florida and Ohio, which also hold primaries on March 15th, it is considered a ‘winner-take-most’ state with 69 delegates at stake.
How Trump can build an insurmountable lead by taking Illinois.
Should Trump win Florida, Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina and Illinois on Tuesday, using conservative estimates (and rounding a bit), he would have around 55% of delegates while all his opponents combined would have around 45%, and with more than half the delegates pledged overall.
Considering the race would be more than halfway over, that would mean that all of Trump’s opponents combined would have to win more than 58% of the remaining delegates to deny him the outright nomination, nearly impossible.
Trump’s lead in Illinois is not large.
But polling indicates Trump holds just a 10 point lead in Illinois. Should he somehow lose the state due in part to a barrage a negative ads against him, thereby capturing only a handful of delegates (or none at all), then his percentage of delegates shrinks to around an estimated 52%, a commanding lead but not impossible to overcome.
If Trump loses both Illinois and Ohio, where he holds a small lead over Ohio Governor John Kasich, Trump would leave Tuesday night with around only 46% of the delegates, making a ‘brokered convention’ far more likely.
Trump will not likely lose Florida, where he’s polling at around 40%, but he is vulnerable in both Illinois and Ohio, states which could virtually hand him the nomination .. or prevent him from earning it outright.