WASHINGTON — Despite Donald Trump’s string of Super Tuesday victories, the billionaire businessman must do better in upcoming contests to claim the Republican presidential nomination before the party’s national convention this summer, an AP delegate count shows.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is emerging as the candidate who could stop him — with a little help from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
While Trump has racked up 10 wins through the first 15 contests, he’s won only 46 percent of the delegates that have been awarded since the voting began last month. It takes an outright majority of delegates to win the nomination.
To win enough delegates to claim the nomination, Trump would have to win 52 percent of the remaining delegates — a difficult feat in a race with three or more candidates.
That’s good news for Republican leaders in Washington and state houses across the country, who are deeply concerned about Trump’s electability, temperament and command of the issues.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn said Wednesday morning that Trump’s remaining rivals — Cruz, Rubio, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Ben Carson — are looking at their own chances and the possibility of a so-called brokered convention and “figure that they’ll hang in there as long as they can.”
The possibility of a contested convention, which would come if no candidate claims a majority of delegates before the July convention, could wreak havoc on the GOP— particularly if Trump has an overwhelming delegate lead that’s just short of the needed majority.
“If the establishment thinks there’s a backlash now, wait until the guy with the most delegates gets to the convention and they decide to take it from him,” said Republican operative Hogan Gidley. “Then you’re going to see an all-out political jihad.”
Trump could take a major step forward in upcoming winner-take-all elections in the middle of the month, however, and all of his rivals are doing considerably worse that the New York real estate mogul.
Video by PBS NewsHour
The Republican front-runner’s delegate gains on Super Tuesday were limited by Cruz’s big win in delegate-rich Texas — his home state. For the night, Trump won at least 234 delegates and Cruz won at least 209. Rubio was a distant third with at least 90.
There were 595 Republican delegates at stake in 11 states. There were still 40 delegates left to be allocated Wednesday morning.
Texas was the biggest prize on Tuesday, with 155 delegates at stake. Cruz won at least 99 delegates in the state and Trump got at least 33, with 20 left to be awarded. Rubio picked up three.
Overall, Trump leads the field with 316 delegates and Cruz has 226. Rubio has 106 delegates, John Kasich has 25 and Ben Carson has eight.
It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.
The math shows the importance of the March 15 primaries in Florida and Ohio, in which the statewide winner gets all the delegates. Winning those states could boost Trump to a commanding lead in the delegate count, but Florida is Rubio’s home state and Ohio is home for John Kasich, the state’s governor.