In 1964, shortly after I joined the Columbia Philosophy Department, my new colleague, Charles Frankel, was tapped to be Assistant Secretary of State for Cultural and Educational Affairs. On his way out the door, he handed to me the task of finishing up the arrangements for an international conference on something or other to be held the next Spring at an elegant villa in Italy. On my way home from the conference, I stopped off in London and visited Ernest Gellner in his country cottage somewhere outside the city. [I had gotten to know Ernest during the time he spent at Harvard in the late '50s. He briefly dated my sister, Barbara.] As luck would have it, the day on which I visited with Ernest was election day in Great Britain, so we sat in his cottage living-room and watch the results on his Black and White telly. I had not a clue who the candidates were, what the issues were, or what hung on the outcome, but I was riveted. I think that was the first time I realized how totally I am hooked on elections -- anybody's elections.
All of which is simply a lead-in to this update of my analysis of the Republican Presidential Primary season. Having just this morning recorded another little proto-lecture in front of my bookshelves and uploaded it successfully to my computer, I decided to relax from my rigors by diving even deeper into the weeds in order to work out in detail how many delegates I project Donald Trump will accumulate through Super-Tuesday [March 15, 2016.] This involved studying the rules governing sixteen primaries, and then making a series of semi-educated guesses about the distribution of the votes. On closer examination, I discovered that there are endless variations in delegate apportionment rules from state to state, none of which I shall try your patience with. A number of states are holding caucuses during that time, but I simply do not understand the caucus world well enough to have any idea how those will come out.
This deeper dive has compelled me to revise my analysis somewhat. First of all, I got one thing wrong in my previous posts. All primaries and caucuses before March 15th must be in some way proportional, not all primaries and caucuses through March 15th. This is very important because two primaries on March 15th, Florida and Ohio, are winner-take-all, and I figure Trump is going to win all 162 of those delegates. On the other hand, South Carolina is somewhat of an outlier in the proportionality game, and Trump will not do as well elsewhere as he will there.
For reasons having to do with the rules, I am assuming that Trump, Cruz, and Rubio will be the only candidates to get 20% or more of the vote in a state, and that Trump will get roughly half or a trifle less of the aggregated total of their votes [that means that he gets 35% and they get, say, 18% and 17% each, with variations from state to state.]
On the basis of all those assumptions, and omitting the caucus states, I estimate that Trump will win 633 of the 1113 delegates chosen by primaries through March 15th, and that Cruz and Rubio will split the remaining 480 delegates in some manner or other. That is only 56.8% of the delegates for Trump, not a pace calculated to yield the 1243 he needs to win the nomination in the primary season.
Caveats: This omits the caucus delegates, and it totally omits any consideration of momentum, as the commentators call it. If Trump exits March 15th with twice as many delegates as either Cruz or Rubio, he may pick up steam and barrel through the later primaries winning enough delegates to nominate him.
The real take-aways are two: First, Cruz is the biggest obstacle to a stop-Trump movement by the elusive and mysterious Republican Establishment, because as Kindergarten teachers would say, he has never learned to work and play well with others; and Second, Rubio is not likely to win enough delegates to enable him, by adding in the Super-delegates, to steal the nomination from Trump.
In short, we are probably looking at a bruising, bloody "brokered" convention.