After three weeks of multiple primaries in large and medium-large states, there is one last week of multiple events before the process takes a bit of a breather. After this week, there is a half contest during the week of March 28; one and a half contests during the week of April 4; one quarter contest during the week of April 11; and one contest during the week of April 18 (albeit the very big New York primary). The pace will only pick back up starting the week of April 25. In practical terms that means that the candidates will be spending the next month concentrating on a very few states and determining if it is worth continuing with the campaign.
Starting on the Republican side, this campaign is now about Trump vs. Anybody but Trump as shown by Mitt Romney holding his nose to ask Utah Republicans to support Ted Cruz in this week’s caucus. Going into this week’s contest, of the delegates allocated to date, Trump has 696 delegates to 764 for the rest of the field. If these percentages hold up, he would end up with something between 1,150 and 1,200 delegates setting up a battle to end all battles in Cleveland.
All of this week’s Republican contests are on Tuesday.
In American Samoa, a territorial convention will elect six delegates. These delegates are technically uncommitted. However, while there is no presidential preference vote, the rules say that the delegates should be chosen in a way that “best” represents the preferences of those in attendance. The rules also permit the convention to instruct the delegates on any matter likely to come before the national convention.
In Arizona, the Republicans use a winner-take-all primary to allocate 58 delegates. The most recent polls put Trump in the lower to mid-30s. With the race down to three candidates, if Ted Cruz can take Arizona away from Trump, Trumps path to a majority of the delegates will significantly narrow.
In Utah, the Republicans will take a binding preference vote in the precinct caucuses. Technically, Utah has a 15% threshold to qualify for delegates with an unusual twist. The threshold only applies if three candidates get 15%. With only three candidates left, either Kasich makes the 15% threshold and qualifies for delegates that way or he fails to make the threshold and the threshold is tossed out. Since the threshold is essentially gone, the bigger issue is that Utah becomes winner-take-all if somebody gets to 50%. If Cruz gets to 50% in Utah and takes Arizona, that would take almost 100 delegates off of Trumps current lead over Cruz.
The following week there is only one Republican contest — the North Dakota State Convention. As with American Samoa, North Dakota’s 28 delegates are technically uncommitted. However the rules allow the delegates to the national convention to voluntarily apportion themselves in accordance with the presidential preference vote. (Since that rule is contrary to the national rules, there will not be a presidential preference vote at the state convention.)
On the Democratic side, there is one primary and two caucuses on Tuesday and three caucuses on Saturday.
Arizona has the primary on Tuesday. Arizona has nine congressional districts ranging from four delegates to eight delegates (50 total) with nine party leader delegates and sixteen at-large delegates (for a total of 75 delegates). As discussed in past weeks, it is likely that the four districts with 5 delegates will split 3-2. In the districts with an even-number of delegates, it will take a substantial margin to gain extra delegates. The latest polls however show Secretary Clinton with a sizable lead, so she might end up with a 15 or 17 delegate advantage instead of the 5 delegate edge that would come from simply carrying the districts with an odd-number of delegates and the state as a whole.
Utah has binding precinct caucuses on Tuesday. Utah has four congressional districts, two with five delegates and two with six delegates (22 delegates total) with four party leader delegates and seven at-large delegates (33 total). In other words, barring a shock, we are looking at an 18-15 split in favor of whomever wins the state. Getting to nineteen delegates will be very difficult.
Idaho also has caucuses on Tuesday. Idaho is the closet thing that we have to the old Texas two-step. The Congressional district delegates (8 in the 1st district and 7 in the 2nd district) will be allocated based on the preference votes taken at the precinct caucuses. However, the state level delegates (3 party leader delegates and 5 at-large delegates) will be allocated based on the preference vote at the state convention in June.
The other three Democratic contests will take place on Saturday. Alaska will have state legislative district caucuses which will elect delegates to the state convention. It is the preference vote at the state convention that will allocate the delegates to the national convention, but — like other states with this “pure” form of caucuses — the results on Saturday will give an estimate of the results at the state convention. Alaska has ten district delegates, two party leader delegates, and four at-large delegates.
Hawaii is like Utah — the preference vote at the precinct caucuses will be used to allocate the national convention delegates. Both of Hawaii’s two congressional district have eight delegates (16 total) with three party-leader delegates and six at-large delegates (25 total).
The big prize for the week on the Democratic side is Washington which should be Bernie Sanders’s best result to date. Washington has its own weird rules. The preference vote in the precinct caucuses will be used to allocate the district level delegates. The state level delegates will be allocated based on the preference vote of the district-level delegates. Since even the largest district only has twelve delegates, the breakdown of district-level delegates is likely to be appreciably different from the actual preference vote. Washington has ten congressional districts ranging from four to twelve delegates (67 total). As noted above, the preferences of these sixty-seven delegates will then be used to allocate twelve party leader delegates and twenty-two at-large delegates.
After Saturday’s vote in Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington, the next major event at which delegates will be bound in either party will be Wisconsin on April 5. However, in Colorado, the Democratic congressional district conventions can be held beginning on April 1. These conventions will formally allocate the delegates (but we have estimates based on the March 1 precinct caucus results).
In short, the stories for the next two weeks will be whether the Republicans have started to stem the Trump tide and whether Bernie Sanders can make any appreciable dent in the Clinton lead. Depending on the results, the race on both sides could be all but over before Wisconsin votes.