We’ll likely be waiting a while longer for the last dribs and drabs of counting to finish, but the numbers out of New York really only have one story to tell. If the expectation was that Donald Trump had to win his home state solidly, he met or exceeded the bar. Of New York’s 95 delegates to the GOP convention, Trump will have a minimum of 88 or a maximum of 92. It seems at this point that 90 is a safe bet. (Kasich has locked down second place finishes in three districts and may get two more.) Absent from the delegate game entirely – or from any significant vote tally – was Ted Cruz. He was shut out in every district, and to steal a line which the #NeverTrump folks used about The Donald in some of the non-election delegate wrangling of late, he finished third in a two man race.
The media coverage has been almost boring in its descriptions of the finish. In fact, the race was called mere seconds after the polls closed. (WaPo)
Trump’s blowout victory — which was propelled by voters’ overwhelming desire to elect a political outsider who could bring change — positions the billionaire mogul for a hot streak in five East Coast primaries next week and brings him closer to securing the nomination with an outright majority of pledged delegates.
Near complete returns showed Trump with just over 60 percent of the vote statewide, putting him on the path to win most of New York’s 95 delegates.
Less widely discussed was one of the exit questions which showed up last night while we waited for the polls to close and it’s beginning to look like a potentially bigger problem for Ted Cruz. More than 70% of those surveyed said that, even absent a majority, the person with the most delegates and the most votes across the states should get the nomination. That’s lining up with what Republican voters across the nation are saying at this point. Obviously the rules aren’t going to change this late in the game, but the repeated drumbeat from #NeverTrump about how this is the way it’s supposed to be simply isn’t resonating outside their own ranch.
For his part, Ted Cruz isn’t veering off message. (And he really can’t afford to.) But the question is coming up more and more, including one incident yesterday where Sean Hannity seemed to lose his patience with the Texas senator on the subject. (Business Insider)
Hannity pointed out that the Cruz campaign has focused on wooing delegates who might be able to switch their votes from Trump to Cruz on a second convention ballot.
“It’s more than a process question,” Hannity said. “It’s an integrity-of-the-election question.”
Cruz responded that the “only people asking this question are the hardcore Donald Trump supporters.”
Hannity told him that he had to “stop.”
“Senator, why do you do this every single time?” Hannity asked, cutting Cruz off as he was speaking. “You’ve got to stop. Every time I have you on the air, and I ask a legitimate question, you try to throw this in my face. I’m getting sick of it. I’ve had you on more than any other candidate on radio and TV. So if I ask you, senator, a legitimate question to explain to the audience, why don’t you just answer it?”
The first ballot question isn’t settled yet by a long shot, but after last night Trump needs basically 50% of the remaining delegates rather than 63%. He’s coming into a stretch of states where he holds very solid leads, if not as great as on his home turf. That percent he needs to win it outright is just going to drop further, even if it never reaches zero. And as much as I’d have liked to see Ted Cruz just win this thing outright with more votes and states in his pocket, that hasn’t happened and I’m not sure that the delegates will be as unified as #NeverTrump thinks they are if they have to stand against that sort of national tide.
The last thing I would note is the observation that Trump seems to be settling into a similar belief himself at this point. In his brief victory speech, Trump was on his best behavior. There was no mention of “Lyin’ Ted” or any other derogatory slurs. He referred to “Senator Cruz” and “Governor Kasich.” The closer we get to California, the more I expect to see The Donald adopting the pose of the presumptive nominee no matter what his final tally turns out to be.