Unfiltered Political News

Trump wins big and early

Donald Trump racked up crucial wins on Tuesday night, as he seized Pennsylvania, Maryland, Rhode Island and Connecticut shortly after the polls closed in what is shaping up to be a big night for the Manhattan mogul as five states voted across the Northeast.

But even as he extends his winning streak, the Republican frontrunner is no longer just obsessed with amassing state victories but also with the more arcane task of accumulating delegates.

His win in Pennsylvania means he picks up 17 more delegates, his victory in Maryland nets him 14 statewide delegates and his victories in Connecticut and Rhode Island will add at least another two dozen to his total.The other state that voted Tuesday is Delaware. The five states are worth a combined 118 bound delegates.

Trump entered the night with 845 of the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination. Cruz began the evening trailing far behind, with 559 delegates. He is expected to be mathematically eliminated Tuesday from winning on the first ballot at the national convention. Kasich, with only 148 delegates, was eliminated long ago.

The victories mean Trump is now more than 73 percent of the way toward securing the Republican.

The string of wins — Trump carried his home state of New York with 60 percent last week —come amid turmoil that has gripped the Trump campaign since Paul Manafort was hired as his convention manager and quickly seized power and control from Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s original campaign manager.

Manafort has tried to professionalize an operation that had been losing to Cruz in the battle for individual delegates even while winning states. Manafort hired Rick Wiley, Scott Walker’s former campaign manager, as political director, and Trump’s old national field director, Stuart Jolly, resigned amid the shake-up.

But Lewandowski, who guided Trump from longshot to frontrunner, has pushed backed against the idea that the campaign needed fixing. “Donald Trump will never change,” Lewandowski said Tuesday on CNN before the polls closed. “The motto of the campaign has been and continues to be: Let Mr. Trump be Mr. Trump.”

Anticipating Trump’s big night Tuesday, Kasich and Cruz struck a surprise deal over the weekend in which Kasich promised not to campaign in Indiana, which votes next week, and Cruz vowed not to compete in Oregon and New Mexico.

For Cruz, the results Tuesday meaning a contested convention goes from what he once dismissed as the “fever dream” of the chattering class to his only path to the nomination. He was already looking ahead, campaigning in recent days in Indiana, which votes on May 3, instead of the Northeastern states that voted on Tuesday.

“Tonight this campaign moves back to Indiana,” Cruz said at a rally as the polls closed. He also mocked his chief opponent, tethering him to the Democratic frontrunner. “Hillary Clinton has decided on her vice presidential nominee,” Cruz joked, “…Donald Trump.”

It’s not clear what a Trump sweep would mean for Indiana, where polls show the race is tighter. Momentum has proved elusive in the Republican contest so far, ever since Trump came roaring back in New Hampshire following Cruz’s Iowa victory.

Three weeks ago, Cruz hailed his win over Trump in Wisconsin as a “turning point” — but it only marked a turn back in Trump’s direction as the real estate mogul walloped Kasich and Cruz in his home state.

Demographics, however, have proved far more predictive and the so-called “Acela corridor” states set up well for Trump.

There are some key thresholds in the balance as the results rolled in. In Connecticut, Trump needed to win more than 50 percent of the vote to sweep all 13 of the statewide delegates. In Rhode Island, where Cruz never campaigned, the Texas senator needs to hit 10 percent support to ensure he wins some of the delegates that are awarded proportionally there.

Maryland offers three delegates to the winner of every congressional district. Louis Pope, a former chairman of the Maryland Republican Party and current RNC member, said that “Kasich’s best chance” was in the contorted 3rd district, which reaches from Baltimore suburbs to Annapolis to the greater D.C. area.

“He also has a reasonable chance in CD-6,” Pope said of the sixth district, which stretches from Montgomery County to the West Virginia border.

The biggest prize of the night is Pennsylvania, which has 71 delegates, but it awards only 17 to the statewide winner. The other 54 delegates are elected directly at the ballot box. They are unbound to the election results, though many have informally pledged themselves to the winner of their districts.

Trump, Cruz and Kasich are all pushing for the election of delegates more favorable to them.

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