It was no surprise that Donald Trump won the five states voting yesterday – Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island – but the scale of his victories was certainly striking. He beat his polling in all five contests and took 55 per cent of the vote or more in each state. His 64 per cent vote share in Rhode Island made it his best state so far – beating the 60 per cent he won in New York last week (he also won 61 per cent of the vote in Delaware).
Trump collected 110 of the 118 convention delegates bound by yesterday’s votes, moving him that bit closer to the target of 1,237. He now has 957, leaving him needing 280 of the 502 bind-able delegates remaining (55.8 per cent) to clinch the nomination without relying on unbound delegates. That still probably requires wins in Indiana next week and California at the beginning of June.
Anti-Trump Republicans are hoping a new pact between Ted Cruz and John Kasich – whereby Kasich will not campaign in Indiana and Cruz will not campaign in New Mexico or Oregon – will deny Trump a win in Indiana, and with it most of the state’s 57 delegates. Of course, if Trump wins with the sorts of 55 per cent-plus vote shares we’ve seen in New York and the five states last night, it really doesn’t matter whether Cruz and Kasich split the remaining votes or not. But Indiana looks a lot closer – Trump’s averaging only around 38 per cent in the polls – so Cruz does have a real shot of winning next Tuesday and making Trump’s path to the nomination a lot steeper.
Even if Trump doesn’t quite make it to 1,237 bound delegates, there’s a chance he’ll have enough unbound delegates to put him over the top on the convention’s first ballot – partly thanks to his strong night in Pennsylvania. As well as binding 17 delegates to the statewide winner (Trump), Pennsylvania also elected 54 unbound delegates (three for each of its 18 districts) who can vote however they choose at the convention. Many of these have pledged to vote for Trump, while a number of others said they’d support whichever candidate won their district – which now means Trump.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton won four of the five contests while Bernie Sanders took Rhode Island. Clinton expanded her pledged delegate lead by around 52, to 291. Including the superdelegates backing her, Clinton is now 90 per cent of the way to the majority of delegates she needs: she has about 2,146, just 237 shy of the target of 2,383.
Although Sanders will not be mathematically eliminated until California apportions its delegates on 7 June, the numbers are getting more and more implausible. Before last night, he needed to win 59 per cent of the remaining pledged delegates to catch Clinton. Last night he won just 43 per cent of those on offer, leaving him needing a whopping 64 per cent of the delegates available in the final 14 contests. Because the Democrats allocate their delegates roughly proportionally, that essentially means Sanders would need about 64 per cent of the vote in those contests (he’s won just 42 per cent so far). It ain’t gonna happen. In fact, he’s unlikely to even get 50 per cent.