Polls close everywhere at 8 p.m. ET. What sort of margins are we talking about tonight? Put it this way: The closest of the five states voting is Maryland, where Trump leads in the RCP average by … 21 points. In Pennsylvania, it’s 21.8. Connecticut? 27. Rhode Island? 29.3. Delaware? There’s been only one poll of that state recently, but Trump leads by, er, 37 points. I think we can pencil that one into his column too.
So that’s the good news for Trump fans — five more easy wins are on tap, with plenty of “this race is over!” heavy breathing by the Trump-loving media to come afterwards. The bad news is that only one of the five is winner-take-all, and that’s also the state with the smallest number of delegates at stake: Delaware, with just 16. Kasich or Cruz could pick off delegates here and there at the district level in the other four even as Trump is en route to statewide landslides. That’s the only mystery at the primary level tonight. Can Trump sweep some states clean or will he leave delegates on the table? Every one counts on the path to 1,237.
The other mystery, arguably even more important than the foregone conclusion in the primaries, is what happens in Pennsylvania’s elections for national delegates. Remember, that state has a “loophole primary” where just 17 of its 71 delegates are awarded to the winner of the primary. The other 54 are directly elected by voters — and to make it extra confusing, the ballot doesn’t say which presidential candidate each candidate for delegate is supporting. If you’re voting in Pennsylvania today and you want the three delegates from your district to be pro-Trump, you’d better know the names of whom you’re supposed to vote for before you step in the booth. Depending upon what happens in the delegate elections, Trump could conceivably win the statewide vote tonight by 20 points yet Cruz could still walk away with 54 of the state’s 71 delegates. In practice that’s unlikely, as Cruz’s delegate-wrangling operation in Pennsylvania isn’t the juggernaut it’s been in other states, but it’s quite possible that Cruz will win a third to a half of the state’s delegates despite finishing a very distant third in the popular vote. Keep your eye on those returns. Twitter, I’m sure, will be buzzing with news about them as the results come in from political junkies who’ve been following Pennsylvania closely.
Speaking of which, since the overall outcome tonight isn’t in doubt, I think we’re better off updating this thread via the handy dandy “Hot Air and friends” Twitter widget instead of manual updates. Watch this window, especially as Pennsylvania starts reporting on the vote in delegate races.