Using official results and exit polling data for the nine states* that held their primaries yesterday, the distribution of self-identified ideologically moderate voters among the top three GOP candidates:
Moderates made up one-in-five (19.7%) voters across these nine states.
Compare this to candidate shares of total votes received among the four still in the race and Ben Carson going back to Iowa, where Trump’s lead, while comfortable, isn’t dominant:
Trump appeals far more to moderates than the rest of the Republican field does. He and Cruz are almost even among voters who identify as conservative. Rubio gets crushed by both Trump and Cruz among conservatives, but has almost twice the moderate support that Cruz enjoys (while Trump has nearly three times Cruz’s moderate support).
Trump has the widest ideological appeal on the Republican side. Trump, the moderate extremist! Or is it the extremist moderate? Anyway, count this as another data point lending credence to Scott Adams’ prediction of a Trump landslide in November. To the extent that the Trump-can’t-beat-Hillary claim has any merit, it’s largely attributable to the GOPe stabbing him in the back at every opportunity.
Hypothetical general election polls are unreliable at this point because they presuppose an electoral profile similar to that of recent presidential elections. Consequently, they are substantially undercounting the impending upsurge of working-class whites who will turn out if Trump is the Republican nominee (and they’ll vote overwhelmingly for him when they do).
Parenthetically, we hear of a contested convention if Trump doesn’t win 51% of the votes in the primaries and caucuses. The good news for Trumpians is that this oft-repeated assertion is incorrect. Trump can quite easily hit the 1,237 delegates needed to win with a mere plurality of total votes cast. His current 35% will probably be enough if Rubio, Cruz, and Kasich stay in for the duration. With Texas having already gone, Cruz may well have hit his high water mark. Trump, in contrast, has two delegate-rich home games coming up in Florida and New York. These states are both winner-take-all, as are all states whose votes are at least two weeks out from today:
States voting on March 15, 2016, or later will award their delegates on a winner-take-all basis, meaning candidates will likely pay more attention to them.
The party believes that the new system of awarding delegates will prevent the front-loading of primaries early in the season, and offers states an incentive to hold theirs in the spring and summer instead of trying to leapfrog each other for influence and attention.
Don’t mock Minnesota’s nice cuckservatives. They’ve given Rubio a pretense for hanging around longer and his recent rhetoric suggests he wants to stick it out to the bitter end. He should!
Finally, consider Kasich’s potentially VP position. For the last several weeks he and Trump have been hands-off one another, a drastic change from the barbs they threw back and forth in the earlier debates. Kasich has taken his can’t-we-all-just-get-along chanting to an almost absurd level–the perfect complement to the Trump-as-a-loose-cannon caricature. The GOPe could reluctantly resign itself to a Trump-Kasich ticket. The markets continue to see that as a distinct possibility. Kasich is currently an odds-on favorite for VP on the Republican side.
* Exit polling wasn’t conducted for the Alaska and Minnesota caucuses. Their contributions to the night’s total vote counts are negligible, however, together comprising just 1.6% of the ballots cast across the eleven states where voting took place on ‘super’ Tuesday.