The results of the March 15th primaries have incontrovertibly altered the dynamics of this year’s election, signaling the demise of several candidates while simultaneously bolstering others.
Trump won Illinois, North Carolina, Northern Marianas, Missouri, and Florida; essentially, every single state aside from Kasich’s home state Ohio. Clinton had similar success, defeating Sanders in each state except for Missouri where they tied. Although delegate allocation hasn’t been fully tabulated yet, here are the rough gains made by each candidate that day: Clinton 371, Sanders 271, Trump 213, Kasich 80, Cruz 41, and Rubio 6. As an aside, in the interlude since the last major results were released Ted Cruz won Guam and Wyoming; Rubio won the District of Columbia. Keeping in mind these preceding victories, the rough delegate allocation totals are as follows: Clinton 1,606, Sanders 851, Trump 673, Cruz 411, Rubio 169, and Kasich 143. Keep in mind that Democrats need roughly twice as many delegates–2,382–as Republicans do–1,237– to attain the nomination; that Democratic total also factors in “superdelegates”, a group of Democratic party elites who aren’t bound to support any candidate but are presumed to heavily favor Hillary Clinton.
These result spelled disaster for Marco Rubio, who officially dropped out after losing Florida. To those unacquainted with politics, these results might not seem so pernicious. Yet, Florida was Rubio’s home state; by losing there he demonstrated insuperable weakness as a candidate and– by the Florida GOP’s winner-take-all rules– didn’t win a single delegate there. Following Rubio’s defeat, Ted Cruz declared that the GOP primary was now a “two man race”, deliberately excluding John Kasich for the following reason: it is now numerically impossible for him to win a majority of Republican delegates, even if he won every single one from now on. John Kasich’s only path to victory is through a brokered convention, which would occur if no candidate achieved a majority. However, even in this scenario Kasich would be at a profound disadvantage since even members of the Republican establishment would fear the wrath of the electorate should they back the unpopular Kasich in spite of Trump’s overwhelming popularity. There are rumors that Kasich is really just holding out in the hopes of being chosen as the nominee’s running mate. In fact, a brokered convention is actually relatively unlikely, given the political forecasting website 538’s assessment of Trumps trajectory. Mathematically speaking, Trump’s delegate count has thus far followed or exceeded that necessary to support an eventual win. No other Republican is on track. Despite this, Trump has a difficult road ahead of him, he will need to win 59% of the remaining delegates.
In summary, Marco Rubio is a political failure who dropped out after losing his home state, John Kasich won his home state but practically lost the election, Trump needs a strong performance going forward to avoid a brokered convention, and Hillary Clinton is still going to win the Democratic nomination.