On Tuesday we are poised to potentially learn something once and for all: can a combination of candidates doing what they ostensibly “should have been doing all along” and a massive social media push from conservative heavyweights finally put a dent in Donald Trump’s momentum? As the witching hour for delegate accumulation approaches, we’ve seen Marco Rubio adopting some of Trump’s own tactics, ladling out insults about his appearance and mannerisms. Both he and Ted Cruz have started talking about some of the sticky issues Trump will need to defend against, such as his business school, bankruptcies and the use of foreign workers on projects here in the United States. On Twitter, I probably saw the hashtag #NeverTrump more often than any other over the past 48 hours, largely from some of the most widely followed conservatives in the political sphere.
But will the rank and file voters pay any attention to these efforts, assuming they’re even aware of them? We have some of the freshest polling data in for most (though not all) of the Super Tuesday states and those numbers will be matched up by analysts against the actual results on Tuesday night to get the answer. If there’s a significant change coming it will have taken place extremely rapidly because, as it’s explained at The Hill, right now Trump is set for a massive advance in delegates.
Donald Trump is poised to grow his delegate lead over the Republican field with a strong showing on Super Tuesday.
The long-time GOP front-runner leads in the latest polls in eight of the 11 states that will vote on March 1, and he’s the only candidate who is competitive across-the-board.
Even worse for Trump’s rivals is that you must win at least 20 percent of the vote to get any delegates in the four states with the largest prizes.
The latest polls showed Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Ben Carson are below the threshold in all four of those states, while Ted Cruz is below the threshold in three of them.
What they’re looking at right now is the vagaries of the supposedly “proportional” allocation of delegates in many of these states. This goes back to the detailed breakdown of the state by state rules which I discussed last week. The four biggest, most delegate rich states on the line are Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas, each with their own drama playing out right now. The key factor in some of them is that pesky minimum threshold we talked about, and it could prove poisonous to some of the non-Trump candidates. Still, as you’ll see below, new polls from this morning show some tightening, so the anti-Trump efforts may be paying off.
Alabama has 50 total delegates, of which 29 are at large, divided among the candidates, but only if they cross the 20% threshold. In the previous polling there, it was Trump 36, Rubio 19 and Cruz 12. Rubio is close to the edge and if he can bump it up a little he’ll get a share of those 29, but if not Trump takes them all. Their other 21 go to the winner in each of seven congressional districts. With that sort of a spread it’s not all that unlikely that Trump could sweep them.
Georgia’s 76 delegate haul is the second largest behind Texas and the picture was previously nearly the same as Alabama: Trump 45, Rubio 19 Cruz 16, also with a 20% threshold. But the new NBC poll shows it tightening to Trump at 30 with Cruz and Rubio each at 23. Georgia’s 34 at large delegates might be proportionally split between between the three of them if that holds, and the 50% winner take all codicil in Georgia’s rules likely won’t kick in. The 42 congressional district delegates would be split 2-1 in each district where where either Rubio or Cruz comes in second with over 20%, but how many would that be? Also, the trigger applies here also, so any CD where Trump breaks 50% would negate the runner-up’s delegate for that district.
Texas is the monster haul with 108 district delegates and more than 40 at large. Cruz seemed to have a slim lead over Trump here, with Rubio flirting with getting shut out. Today’s NBC poll shows Cruz pulling away, however. with 39 to Trump’s 26 and Rubio at 16. That could even out the delegate math between Cruz and Rubio after Alabama and Georgia, with Trump still coming away with a nice chunk of them.
The last big trove of delegates is Tennessee. The last polling there ws several weeks old, but Trump formerly had a better than two to one advantage over Cruz. As of this morning he’s running away with it at 40, with Cruz getting 22 and Rubio 19. but if neither of the senators can wind up breaking 20% there, Trump once again could walk away with all 58 of their delegates, or possible a smidgen less if Cruz can carry a couple of congressional districts.
Except for Arkansas and Minnesota, Trump seems to be holding his lead in the rest of them, with Rubio and Cruz bouncing back and forth in terms of who will scoop up the second place delegates. I don’t expect Trump’s opponents to back off nor the #NeverTrump contingent on Twitter to go silent on Wednesday, but if they can’t cut into the numbers I set out here, when is it going to happen? If those numbers do begin to significantly crumble for the real estate tycoon two days from now we’ll know that the campaign to take him down is finally getting some legs. But if it plays out pretty much the way that snapshot portrays it, get ready for interesting times.