You didn’t see any updates for the results of the Nevada caucuses from me last night because… I’m old and I don’t stay up until one in the morning. Because of that, I found out about the results this morning along with many of you early to bed, early to rise types. Having gone over the numbers with my morning coffee there isn’t much to say beyond the fact that Donald Trump quite simply owned everyone. The theory that Trump has a ceiling somewhere the thirties took yet another beating as he outperformed even the most optimistic polls, taking 46% of the vote total. In a rerun of the anti-Trump contingent’s worst nightmares, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz slugged it out for second place, with Rubio holding a slim edge of roughly 24% with a bit more than 90% of the votes counted this morning. If you were expecting either of them to drop out before leaving Las Vegas, your hopes have been dashed.
There’s not that much in the way of reading the tea leaves on this one. Over at The Hill, the analysis seems to boil down to pretty much the same scenario we had after South Carolina.
Donald Trump is now the presumptive Republican nominee.
Yes, there is a long way to go. But if a more conventional candidate than Trump had won three of the first four contests by such emphatic margins, there would be broad consensus that they were on their way to becoming the party’s standard-bearer.
Tuesday night’s result could hardly have been more clear-cut. Several news organizations called the race for the business mogul the moment the caucuses ended. With 24 percent of returns in shortly after 2 a.m. Eastern time, Trump had about 44 percent support, putting a significant hole in the theory that there is a ceiling to his appeal in the mid-30s.
There is only a week to go before Super Tuesday, when Republicans in 11 states vote. It is difficult to imagine what could happen at this stage to blunt Trump’s momentum.
We could sit here and go through the entry polls and demographics, but it would quickly become repetitive. Trump won with younger voters, older voters, richer and poorer, well educated and less educated. But among all of those pigeonholes, there’s one figure which should really jump out at you. Trump received 45% of the Hispanic vote, only a couple of points less than the combined total of the two actual Hispanic candidates running against him. (Well, unless you ask the New York Times, of course.) I will now offer you the rational explanation of how that happened:
Before we wrap, I wanted to take a quick look at the projections for Super Tuesday and the way the “proportional” voting will play out in all those states that are on the line next week. We were batting this around on Twitter last night and there seems to be some confusion as to how the delegate math will work. Trump should take 12 delegates from Nevada (with Rubio and Cruz each getting 5) but there are quite a few states where the split will not be nearly as equitable. The rules are different from state to state, and we should remember that Trump got pretty much all the delegates from South Carolina, even though it’s a “proportional” delegate state.
Here’s a little collection I put together which covers it. The key things to watch for are the thresholds in each state which are required to get any delegates and how the spread is covered for second and third place. (Apologies if the text is a little rough.)
Only three states are really close to being truly “proportional” based on the statewide results, with Virginia (49 delegates) being the single state which awards delegates across the board in that fashion. Alaska (28) rewards them proportional to the state vote, but only to candidates who reach a 13% threshold, so the top three winners are amplified. Massachusetts (42) does the same as Alaska, but the threshold is only 5% to receive delegates.
Several states chop up their delegate count between the winners of each congressional district in the state with some bonus delegates awarded differently. In these states, candidates usually get 3 delegates for each CD where they prevail, but some break it up with 2 delegates to the winner and 1 to 2nd place if they don’t break 50% in any given district. These include:
3 delegates to winner of each of 4 CDs if they reach 50% there. If a plurality win in any CD, 2 delegates to 1st place, 1 to 2nd. There are 28 bonus delegates. Each candidate above 15% statewide gets 1 bonus delegate. If the winner gets more than 50% he gets the rest of the 28. If the winner has a plurality, all candidates above 15% split the 28 proportionally.
48 delegates assigned to CD winners the same as Arkansas. 20% threshold to receive delegates. 34 bonus delegates to state wide winner if above 50%. If none above 50%, proportional allocation to all above 20%.
3 delegates proportionately assigned by results in each of 8 CDs, 10 % threshold. 14 bonus delegates awarded proportional to statewide results for all who get more than 10%.
3 delegates for each of 5 CDs divided the same as Arkansas. 15% threshold. 28 bonus delegates awarded same as Arkansas.
27 delegates, 3 for each of 9 CDs. Need 2/3 vote to get all 3, else proportional. 20% threshold. 31 bonus delegates. If one candidate takes 2/3 of the state vote they take all 31. Else proportional for all >20%.
108 delegates, 3 for each of 36 CDs. 20% threshold. Same as Arkansas. 47 bonus delegates awarded same as Arkansas to all above 20%.
Then we come to a couple of real wild cards. In Alabama, they award 3 to the winner of each of 7 CDs. 29 bonus delegates go to overall winner. But if one candidate comes in 1st in all CDs by even one vote, it’s winner take all.
In Vermont, (16 delegates) if any candidate reaches 50% statewide they get all 16. If the winner only has a plurality, all candidates above 20% divide all 16 proportionally.
As you can see, those thresholds can really warp the delegate count toward the top performers rather than allowing single digit candidates (or even those in the teens) to nibble away at the frontrunner. Quite a few of these could wind up being winner take all and Donald Trump is currently in the lead in most of those states according to this week’s polls. (Texas may be an exception.) I noticed that Erick Erickson has come out and asked all of you Cruz and Rubio supporters to put aside your differences and simply vote against Trump for whichever other candidate is doing better. Looking at those rules for Super Tuesday, it may be too late for that.
Well, enough boring math. Here’s Trump’s victory speech in case you missed it.