Donald Trump had a big night on Super Tuesday but it definitely wasn’t enough to ensure he’ll indeed be the Republican party’s presidential nominee.
He’s still the leader of the dwindling pack, but challengers Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are very much staying in the race.
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Trump, according to FiveThirtyEight, secured a further 250 delegates to his count, keeping him in the lead with 332 pledged delegates and closer to the goal of 1,237 delegates (out of a total of 2,472 delegates) needed to clinch the nomination.
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The race for second place — and to be the one who knocks the outspoken billionaire out of contention — is a heated one.
Rubio and Cruz were neck-and-neck going into Super Tuesday, with just one delegate separating them. Cruz now sits firmly in second place with his 221 pledged delegates; Rubio had a successful night and won his first state, Minnesota, and raised his delegate count to 115.
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See the state-by-state breakdown of delegates at the bottom of this page
Although Trump seems to be on an unstoppable path to being the Republican nominee, that doesn’t mean the party wants him. Front runner status aside, he has consistently averaged around 34 per cent of the Republican vote in the caucuses and primaries held so far. In other words, two-thirds of the party is not voting for him.
There are 41 contests still on the slate before primary and caucus season comes to an end on June 7. Delegates will then head to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland from July 18 to 21, where they will select the party candidate. If the race stretches on until then and no one candidate crosses the 1,237 threshold beforehand, the Republicans may find themselves holding a contested convention.
“To win enough delegates to claim that prize, Trump would have to win 51 percent of those remaining in the state-by-state contests scheduled through early June. That could be difficult if three or more candidates stay in the race,” the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
RCP Poll Average for Republican Candidates vs. Clinton | InsideGov
This could be an advantage Cruz and Rubio need in their bids for the White House — if one of them would actually drop out and leave the other to challenge Trump. Neither has indicated any intention of doing that at this point in time.
Cruz, a junior senator from Texas, outshone Trump in the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1 but really hasn’t done all that great since. On Super Tuesday, the junior won in his home state of Texas and in Oklahoma and Alaska — home of 2008 vice presidential nominee and Trump endorser Sarah Palin.
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Leading into Super Tuesday, the New York Times warned Cruz would need to fare well in the more Conservative states — the ones where he appealed to evangelical voters.
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But that hasn’t necessarily happened. Cruz benefited from support from evangelical voters in Iowa, but Trump annihilated him — and everyone else — in South Carolina on Feb. 20.
And while the evangelicals were behind Cruz in Oklahoma and Arkansas (which Trump actually won), the Washington Post noted those states’ proximity to Texas as a factor.
So Cruz isn’t out, but it’s going to be a steep hill to climb to even get close to Trump.
FiveThirtyEight notes many of the key evangelical races have already happened and races in states where Rubio is proving to be more popular are still on the horizon — including Rubio’s home state of Florida, where 99 delegates will be up for grabs in a winner-take-all race on March 15.
RCP Poll Average for Florida Republican Primary | InsideGov
As of Feb. 26, Trump had nearly double the support of Rubio in Florida.
But, as the International Business Times notes, Rubio has benefited from former Florida governor Jeb Bush dropping out of the race, while Cruz appears to be dropping in the polls.
In Ohio — another key state voting in a winner-take-all primary on March 15 — Rubio is holding firm in fourth place without much hope of taking those 66 delegates.
There are 12 states and territories holding primaries and caucuses between now and March 15, with a total of 325 delegates at stake. But the delegates in all of those races will be divided proportionally among the candidates based on the percentage of votes they earn.
Super Tuesday delegates by the numbers
(Infographics by Neil Joyes)