In the end, the race will come down to California and its massive cache of 172 delegates in what will amount to 53 unpredictable mini-primaries across disparate terrain. Ninety delegates will be awarded in districts where President Obama received 60 percent or more of the vote. Two-thirds of those will be decided in seats where Mitt Romney won 30 percent or less, including eight bona fide “rotten boroughs” where he couldn’t even crack 20 percent.
Trump can hardly expect a New York-style romp here, meaning he needs at least 1,100 delegates coming in.
Cruz’s argument at an open convention will be stronger if he can claim more than 800 delegates while keeping the deficit to a minimum. The California endgame will hinge on what happens in Indiana. If Cruz can battle through the coming adversity for a Hoosier State victory, the odds are we’re headed to Cleveland.
Bottom line: Even if Trump wins Indiana and staves off Kasich in the ’burbs, he’d probably end up just shy of what he needs — perhaps as close as 1,230 delegates. But it’s more likely that Indiana proves tougher for him and leaves him closer to 1,185 delegates — putting all eyes on Cleveland.