5 Charts About Trump and the GOP Nomination

By Berny Belvedere Published on March 7, 2016

Is the Trump train finally running out of steam? Here are five charts to help us with that question.

Under any reasonable metric, Donald Trump is the front runner for the Republican nomination. He may not have the most endorsements (Marco Rubio), nor raised the most money (Ted Cruz), but he’s won the most states, received the most votes, and accrued the most delegates out of anyone in the field. Let’s look at some charts that speak to all three factors: votes, delegates, and wins.

Chart number one shows the total votes of each of the four remaining candidates, divided by contest type. The open primaries and caucuses are grouped together, as are the closed ones. Trump is winning both types.

In terms of raw vote totals Trump’s lead is commanding no matter what type of contest we have in view. Yet this next chart, which shifts the focus to delegate totals, shows that Trump is vulnerable in closed contests. Indeed, it depicts a much tighter race when the primary or caucus is closed off to voters not registered as Republicans.

It will be interesting to see how Trump fares in the remaining March contests, since many of them are closed. Out of the 14 left this month, four are open, eight are closed, and two are mixed (unaffiliated voters may cast a vote in either party’s contest, but registered voters may not vote in their rival party’s contest). Since the mixed ones keep out the so-called “Reagan Democrats,” these contests eliminate a constituency Trump has been relying on for his strength in the more open ones. In these closed contests, even a minimal slide on Trump’s part could give someone like Cruz an opening to rack up wins and delegates, especially if Rubio and Kasich are increasingly seen as unviable. The problem for Cruz is that Trump looks likely to take Michigan (open primary, 59 delegates), Mississippi (open primary, 40 delegates) on March 8, and will likely walk away with zero delegates in Florida (closed primary, 99 delegates) and Ohio (semi-closed, 66 delegates) on March 15. These are big contests, and while they don’t all favor Trump, they don’t favor Cruz, either.

When it comes to wins, Trump has the most on the Republican side and is tied with Hillary for most overall (12). Take a look at the following chart, which shows which states Trump has won, which states he’s lost, and by how much in either direction.

It’s interesting to note that in Texas and its surrounding states, Trump either loses these states or barely manages to win them. He got clobbered in Texas (-17) and Kansas (-25), and he won Arkansas and Louisiana by a combined margin (+5.9) less than Cruz’s margin of victory over him in Oklahoma (-6.1). His most resounding wins are in Massachusetts (+31.3), Alabama (+22.3), and Nevada (+22). The next chart uses margin of victory data to represent how decisive his wins have been. Despite the prevailing narrative that Trump is a runaway favorite, he has had remarkably few emphatic victories.

The states with some degree of coloration are electoral contests that have already taken place. Notice how precious few of them are deep blue. This chart shows that 12 of the 19 contests held thus far amounted to either a Trump loss or a Trump win by five or less points. This is interesting because if we isolate for recent results, Trump is on a downward path. He lost two states on March 5, and barely won two others. Where does he go from here?

Trump is going to need more than a plurality of the remaining delegates in order to secure the nomination outright; he’s going to need close to a supermajority. Heading into the convention without the 1,237 is very dangerous for a candidate so loathed by the party. If the remaining states allocated delegates in a proportional manner, it would complicate his attempt to secure the needed amount prior to the convention. But winner-take-all (e.g. Florida, 99 delegates; Ohio, 66 delegates) and winner-take-most (e.g. Illinois, 69 delegates; New York, 95 delegates) states are coming, and the clearest way for Trump to rack up the needed delegates prior to the convention is to win those states and choke the delegate stream that second- and third-place finishers have been relying on until now to keep up with him.

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