Super Tuesday Preview: GOP

We’ve arrived at Super Tuesday! Yesterday was my preview for the Democrats’ eleven states and one American Samoa. Today: the Republicans and their 14 states. Just like yesterday, my goal for this Super Tuesday preview is to roughly predict how delegates will shake out. For each state, I’ll have:

  • Delegate allocation rules (which will be much less consistent than for the Democrats)
  • Most recent polls
  • Prediction for the state
  • Estimated delegate split

At the end, I’ll tabulate the states and delegate-splits and spew out a rough prediction for the day. Something to follow on the Republican side are the varied “thresholds” to earn delegates. Many of these states, for example, require a candidate to hit 20 percent in a state or district in order to win any delegates. Rubio and Cruz both hover around that number in most states. Moreover, many states and districts only give delegates to the top two finishers, leaving a close third place finish, of which both Rubio and Cruz will have plenty, with nothing. Trump, meanwhile, will clear 20 percent everywhere to consistently add to his lead.

Furthermore, most Congressional districts today allocate three delegates. A candidate who wins 50 percent of a district wins 100 percent of the district delegates. A winner who finishes with between 20 and 50 percent in many of these districts gets 2 of the 3 delegates, or 67 percent of them. As the New York Times told us yesterday, these rules were drawn up by the National Committee in order to help the leading candidate quickly wrap up the race. Little did the rule-makers know it’d be Trump they were helping.

Okay, let’s get to it. Like yesterday, I’ll be sorting the states by delegation size. For the GOP’s Super Tuesday, there are 595 pledged delegates available, which doesn’t count Colorado and Wyoming’s nonbinding caucuses and and whatever the hell North Dakota’s doing.

#1. Texas Primary — 155 pledged delegates

Delegate allocation rules: 108 delegates awarded from the 38 Congressional districts — 3 each. If a candidate earns 50 percent in a district, he gets all three delegates. If he wins with between 20 and 50 percent, he earns 2 and the runner up gets one. Of the 47 state-wide delegates, the same 50 percent rule is in place to get all 47. If the leading candidate receives between 20 and 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates divide the 47 proportionally based on results.

Most recent polls:  Six polls over the last week average to Cruz 37.2, Trump 28.2, Rubio 18.0. (Kasich and Carson are under 7 and unlikely to get any delegates.)

Prediction for the state: You know, people who wanted Cruz to drop out for Rubio really didn’t think it through. Guess who would win the Texas Primary if Cruz withdraws? Trump by a mile. He’s probably get over 50 percent of the vote and rack up major, major delegates. (Not to be confused with super, superdelegates.) If Cruz can crank his state-wide total and/or a bunch of district totals to over 50 percent, he could have a big delegate day. The polls suggest that’s unlikely, however. Still, just winning the state will keep him alive, whereas if he loses the state he probably drops out by the weekend (and Trump becomes a lock for the nomination). Importantly, Rubio needs to find ways to finish in second in some districts if he wants to get any delegates. If he doesn’t, Cruz and Trump might come away with all 155 delegates. Prediction: Cruz 37, Trump 30, Rubio 20, Kasich 7, Carson 6.

Estimated delegate split: Cruz 96, Trump 53, Rubio 6 (meaning, Rubio will finish second in six districts)

#2. Georgia Primary — 76 pledged delegates

Delegate allocation rules42 district delegates from the 14 districts; if a candidate earns 50 percent of the vote in a district, he gets all 3; anything less and the leader gets 2 and the runner-up 1. For the 34 state-wide delegates, a majority win gets all 34. With no majority win, all candidates who finished with more than 20 percent split delegates proportionally.

Most recent pollsFive polls over the last week average to Trump 36.2, Rubio 22.4, Cruz 22.2. (Carson and Kasich under 8 and won’t get delegates.)

Prediction for the state: Georgia’s results will resemble northern neighbor South Carolina, but since the state and districts don’t award winner-take all delegates, it won’t be a Trump shutout like the Palmetto State was. It’s important for Rubio and Cruz to hit 20 percent state-wide, or else they don’t get any at-large delegates and that means even more for Trump. Prediction: Trump 39, Rubio 26, Cruz 22, Carson 7, Kasich 6

Estimated delegate split: Trump 43, Rubio 18, Cruz 15

#3. Tennessee Primary — 58 pledged delegates (Interestingly, Tennessee is the third weighiest state for the Republicans but it was sixth for the Democrats. This divergence stems from national committees giving more delegates to states whose voting tendencies match the broader party. There will be similar “bump-ups” below in Alabama and Oklahoma.)

Delegate allocation rules27 district delegates from the 9 districts, 3 each; here a candidate needs two-thirds of the vote in a district to get all 3; otherwise, it’s 2 and 1 to the leader and runner-up, respectively. For the 31 at-large delegates, it’s the same two-thirds threshold for all the delegates; without that, it’s proportional to all candidates who clear 20 percent.

Most recent pollJust one 2016 poll — a February 18 to 23 poll that showed Trump at 40, Cruz at 22, Rubio 19. (Carson and Kasich in single digits, no delegates.)

Prediction for the state: Like Georgia, that 20 percent threshold is what to watch for Rubio and Cruz. The one relevant poll we have took place before, during, and after South Carolina, but totally before Nevada. As a result, I think Rubio’s second place finishes have helped close the Cruz gap. Prediction: Trump 44, Rubio 23, Cruz 21, Carson 8, Kasich 4

Estimated delegate split: Trump 32, Rubio 14, Cruz 12

#4. Alabama Primary — 50 pledged delegates

Delegate allocation rules21 delegates, 3 each for the 7 districts; all 3 go to any candidate who clears 50 percent in a district or if only one candidate clears 20 percent; if two are between 20 and 50, it’s 2 and 1 to the winner and runner-up, respectively. For the 29 at-large delegates, same as district rules.

Most recent pollsThree polls conducted in the last week average to Trump 38.0, Rubio 20.3, Cruz 14.7 (shockingly low). (Carson and Kasich: won’t get delegates.)

Prediction for the state: Trump 40, Rubio 29, Cruz 14, Carson 9, Kasich 6

Estimated delegate split: Trump 31, Rubio 18, Cruz 1 (Cruz’s state-wide numbers suggest he’ll be in third place in nearly every district.)

#5. Virginia Primary — 49 pledged delegates

Delegate allocation rulesTotally proportional! Hallelujah! Of the five biggest states, this is the first one where Kasich and Carson might pick up a delegate or two.

Most recent pollsFour polls over the last three weeks average to Trump 36.8, Rubio 22.3, Cruz 17.5, Kasich 7, Carson 6.5. Trump at 40 and 41 in the two most recent ones, though. Rubio at 27 in them.

Prediction for the state: Trump 41, Rubio 28, Cruz 19, Kasich 7, Carson 5

Estimated delegate split: Trump 21, Rubio 14, Cruz 9, Kasich 3, Carson 2

#6. Oklahoma Primary — 43 pledged delegates

Delegate allocation rules15 district delegates, 3 each from the 5 districts; a candidate with 50 percent gets all 3; if three candidates clear 15 percent in a district, each of them gets one delegate from the district. For the 28 at-large delegates, all candidates who break 15 percent split them proportionally.

Most recent pollsThree polls in February, but the first was done totally before New Hampshire. Toss it. That leaves us with two poll since South Carolina, and they average to Trump 32, Cruz 21.5, Rubio 21.5 (No delegates for Kasich and Carson.)

Prediction for the state: Trump 37, Rubio 27, Cruz 25, Carson 7, Kasich 4

Estimated delegate split: Trump 17, Rubio 14, Cruz 12

#7. Massachusetts Primary — 42 pledged delegates

Delegate allocation rulesAnother totally proportional state, though a candidate must earn 5 percent to get any delegates.

Most recent pollsFour polls in the last week average out to Trump 45.3, Rubio 18.5, Kasich 15.3(!), Cruz 11.0, Carson 3.0. The last poll had Trump at 51.

Prediction for the state: I have a hunch, which you should definitely ignore considering my success in the GOP Primary, that a lot of Massachusetts Republicans will show up to vote against Trump. Trump 42, Rubio 28, Kasich 18, Cruz 9, Carson 3

Estimated delegate split: Trump 18, Rubio 12, Kasich 8, Cruz 4

#8. Arkansas Primary — 40 pledged delegates

Delegate allocation rules: Twelve district delegates, or three for each of the four districts; if a candidate earns 50 percent of the vote in a district, he gets all 3; anything less and the leader gets 2 and the runner-up 1. For the 28 at-large delegates, every candidate who gets 15 percent of the vote gets at least a delegate; if any candidate gets 50 percent, they get the rest; if no candidate gets 50 percent, all candidate who earned over 15 percent are distributed delegates proportionally.

Most recent pollJust a generally outdated February 4 poll which had Cruz 27, Trump 23, Rubio 23, Carson 11, Kasich 4. But this was right after Cruz’s Iowa win and before Trump’s trifecta.

Prediction for the state: Trump 40, Cruz 25, Rubio 24, Carson 9, Kasich 2

Estimated delegate split: Trump 21, Cruz 10, Rubio 9

#9. Minnesota caucuses — 38 pledged delegates

Delegate allocation rulesIf a candidate earns 85 percent of the state-wide vote, he gets all 38 delegates. Short of that, 24 district delegates will be proportionally awarded from the 8 districts. The 14 state-wide delegates are awarded proportionally to all candidate who earn more than 10 percent of the state’s vote.

Most recent pollThe last poll was done in mid-January, and it had Rubio in the lead at 23, followed by Cruz at 21, Trump at 18, Carson 11 and Kasich 2. Can Rubio actually win a state???

Prediction for the state: He can! Rubio 35, Trump 30, Cruz 15, Kasich 12, Carson 8

Estimated delegate split: Rubio 19, Trump 15, Cruz 2, Kasich 2

#10. Colorado caucuses — 37 delegates

Delegate allocation rulesColorado is not allocating delegates today. Colorado is caucusing to name delegates to county and district conventions. However, like in Iowa, rough delegate estimates can be given from tonight’s vote.

Most recent pollJust a November poll. Toss it. I’m flying blind here!

Prediction for the state: It looks like Rubio and Cruz are organized in Colorado’s confusing caucus, which will help. It’s a total toss-up. Trump 33, Rubio 30, Cruz 27, Kasich 5, Carson 5

Estimated delegate split: Delegates are not getting allocated, but we can expect delegate projections nonetheless. Let’s go with Trump 14, Rubio 12, Cruz 11

#11. Alaska caucuses — 28 pledged delegates

Delegate allocation rulesAll 28 are proportionally awarded to candidates who receive at least 13 percent (13??) of the state-wide vote.

Most recent pollJust a January poll since last summer. It had Trump 28, Cruz 24, Carson 9, Rubio 7, Kasich 2

Prediction for the state: We can assume Carson and Kasich won’t meet the unlucky 13 percent threshold, while Rubio will have risen considerably. Prediction: Trump 40, Rubio 23, Cruz 22, Carson 8, Kasich 7

Estimated delegate split: Trump 13, Rubio 8, Cruz 7

#12. North Dakota caucuses — 28 UNpledged delegates?!

Delegate allocation rules: “The North Dakota Republican Party conducts caucuses in Legislative Districts to elect delegates to the State Convention. There is no Presidential preference vote.” Boy they got some weirdos in North Dakota.

Most recent polls: None. Ever. Maybe they couldn’t find anyone?

Prediction for the state: I tried to find relevant polling data from neighboring South Dakota. There wasn’t any. I moved on to Montana, but the most recent one there is from November. Minnesota has polled, but I don’t think any Minnesotans would want me confusing their presidential preferences with those of North Dakotans. So let’s just roll with the national averages pro-rated to reach 100 percent: Trump 34, Cruz 23, Rubio 21, Carson 11, Kasich 11

Estimated delegate split: No.

#13. Wyoming caucuses — 26 pledged delegates

Delegate allocation rules: Does not allocate with these caucuses.

Most recent polls: The most recent poll was done in July 2013. If they hold, we’ll see Rand Paul over Chris Christie in a squeaker.

Prediction for the state: See North Dakota. Trump 34, Cruz 23, Rubio 21, Carson 11, Kasich 11

Estimated delegate split: Again, they aren’t allocating today, but networks might project anyway. Trump 9, Cruz 7, Rubio 6, Carson 2, Kasich 2

#14. Vermont Primary — 16 pledged delegates

Delegate allocation rulesIf a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, they win all 16 delegates. Otherwise, all candidates who earn over 20 percent of the vote split the delegates proportionally.

Most recent pollA two-week poll done from February 3 to February 17 by Castleton University said Trump 32, Rubio 17, Cruz 11, Kasich 10, and Carson 3

Prediction for the state: If Rubio can’t clear 20 percent, Trump will get all 16 delegates. I think Rubio gets there, though. Trump 39, Rubio 26, Kasich 18, Cruz 12, Carson 5

Estimated delegate split: Trump 10, Rubio 6

Super Tuesday Totals

Contests (14 total… kind of):

  • Trump 9+ (Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Alaska, Vermont)
  • Cruz 1 (Texas)
  • Rubio 1 (Minnesota)
  • Bonkers states 2 (Colorado and Wyoming both for Trump if counted)
  • Super cuckoo bonkers states 1 (North Dakota… Trump, I guess?)

Pledged delegates (595 from allocating states, 63 from CO & WY):

  • Trump: 274 (from those allocating), 23 from CO & WY
  • Cruz: 168 (from those allocating), 18 from CO & WY
  • Rubio: 138 (from those allocating), 18 from CO & WY
  • Kasich: 13 (from those allocating), 2 from CO & WY
  • Carson: 2 (from only VA), 2 from CO & WY


If I’m right about those delegate guesses, we’d be looking at the following totals for the entire primary, give or take:

  1. Trump 356
  2. Cruz 185
  3. Rubio 154
  4. Kasich 19
  5. Carson 7

What does this mean for Carson? He should drop out. Then again, he should have dropped out after Iowa. And then after South Carolina. And then after Nevada. Come to think of, why was he running again?

What does this mean for Kasich? He knew this was coming and is still counting on an Ohio Primary win, which would net him all 66 delegates and potentially start some momentum for him, especially if Rubio loses Florida on the same day and drops out because of it.

What does this mean for Cruz? His lead over Rubio looks good, and he’ll use it to continue his pitch that he’s the only guy that can beat Trump. However, he is virtually eliminated from contention because after today his best states will be behind him, whereas Rubio’s best states are ahead. You have to wonder how Cruz would be looking if Trump never ran or collapsed in 2015 like most expected. He’d be in the lead right now and about to extend it across the South. His master plan was sound, but he wasn’t prepared for the Trump variable.

What does this mean for Rubio? It looks bleak. If anti-Trump folks want to cling to hope, it’s the fact that we’re only 1/3 of the way through the voting, and there are a lot of big, moderate states still remaining with some winner-take-all rules. If Rubio hangs in and builds momentum, he can rack up delegates more easily than Trump has to this point. Rubio is counting on Cruz to win Texas, Kasich to win Ohio, and himself to win Florida, even though Trump is actually up in two of those states. He’s also counting on momentum building in March and April so he can finish strong in May and in June’s California Primary. He also needs Trump to stay under 50 percent of the delegates so he can win it at the convention. Yikes. That’s a lot of things that have to go perfect. He’s alive, but on life support.

What does this mean for Trump? After this exciting 2016 campaign, are we about to see two candidates secure 40-plus states? It’s on the table.

The stars are aligning for Donald Trump. On the eve of Super Tuesday, where he’ll probably win at least 11 states, CNN came out with a national poll that showed him up to 49 points. He’s at the tipping point of obliterating all “Exhibits” from the “Trump is not inevitable” half of Friday’s post. His lead will be huge, nearly doubling Cruz and more than doubling Rubio. There are still 1400 or so delegates to win, but sheer inertia can easily give Trump most of those and the nomination.

So can Cruz and Rubio miraculously slow down the Trump train before it reaches breakaway speed? We’re about to find out.


4 thoughts on “Super Tuesday Preview: GOP”

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