Delegate Math: Week of April 25

New York this past week was huge for the front runners in both parties.  For both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the results in New York essentially offset everything that has happened over the past several weeks.  On the Republican side, the race stands essentially where it stood on April 1 except for 223 more delegates allocated.  On the Democratic side, the race stands essentially where it stood on March 14 except for 1197 more delegates allocated.  In other words, the New York reset basically gave Trump a glimmer of hope that he can win enough delegates to get the nomination while it put Clinton back in control of the Democratic race.  This week’s primaries feature five states that comprise the rest of the Mid-Atlantic (Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania) and the last two New England states (Connecticut and Rhode Island).  For both Trump and Clinton, the hope is that this week will be mostly a repeat of New York.  For Trump that hope is a necessity because he still is behind where he needs to be on the delegate count and May is a little less friendly than this week.  Clinton also faces a potentially weaker performance in May, but she is fast approaching the point where it is mathematically impossible for Sanders to catchup on the pledged delegate count (much less the popular vote count).

Starting with the Republicans, the simplest state is Delaware — 16 delegates — winner-take-all.  There has not been much (if any polling) In Delaware.  Given the polls in neighboring states, Trump looks like the favorite to win in Delaware unless the supporters of Cruz and Kasich can unite to block him.

Maryland is only a little more complex — a winner-take-most state.  Maryland has eight congressional districts and the winner in each of those districts will take three delegates while the state-wide winner will take fourteen delegates.  Polling puts Trump near 40% with Cruz and Kasich tied for second.  There are potentially some districts that Cruz or Kasich could take.  Strategic voting would probably keep Trump from getting 12 or 15 delegates.

Next up in complexity is Connecticut.  The five congressional districts are winner-take-all (and all will probably go to Trump).  The thirteen state delegates will be awarded proportionately to all candidates with 20% of the vote, but if the winner gets over 50% that candidate gets all thirteen delegates.  The latest polling puts Cruz just under 20% and Trump near 50%.   Whether Cruz gets to 20% and Trump fails to reach 50% would impact around 6 delegates.

Rhode Island is proportional — both state-wide and by congressional district.  A candidate needs 10% of the vote to qualify for delegates.  That makes it likely that the two districts will split delegates 1-1-1 unless Trump gets to 67% in which case he gets two delegates.  The thirteen at-large delegates will also be allocated proportionately.  In short, a bad day for Trump would be to win seven of the sixteen delegates, but a great day would probably only get him thirteen delegates.

The big enchilada is Pennsylvania, but it is a difficult state to clearly win.  Like Illinois earlier this year and West Virginia later this year, the district-level delegates are elected directly without any regard to the presidential preference vote.  More significantly, in Pennsylvania, the ballot does not list those delegate’s presidential preferences.  These fifty-four delegates are officially uncommitted.  As such, doing well in Pennsylvania requires a campaign to identify strong delegate candidates early who are loyal to that candidate and then to be able to convey the preferred slate in each district to its supporters.  Nobody will know how well anybody has done until the votes are cast in Cleveland (or until the winning delegates announce their intent and even then they are free to change their mind unlike the district-level delegates in Illinois).  There are seventeen state-wide delegates which will be allocated on a winner-take-all basis.  Trump seems to be likely to take these delegates as Cruz and Kasich are essentially tied for second.

On the Democratic side, all five states are (like every other state) proportional.  Because of the date of these primaries, all five states received a bonus for going later in the cycle and Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware receive an additional bonus for being a three-state cluster.  (Connecticut and Rhode Island missed out on this additional bonus when New York opted to hold its primary on the 19th.)

While Delaware has only one congressional district, it has exercised the option (permitted under national rules) to divide the state into different units for the purposes of allocating the district-level delegates.    The two smaller counties (Kent and Sussex) get two delegates each as does the city of Wilmington.  The remainder of New Castle County gets eight delegates.  This split makes it likely that Clinton and Sanders will take three delegates each from the smaller units.  It will take 56.26% to get a 5-3 split in New Castle County, with an additional 12.5% needed for each additional delegate.    At the state-wide level, Delaware has two party leader delegates and five at-large delegates.  Again, the party leader delegates are likely to be a 1-1 split.  The winner will get at least three at-large delegates, but it will take 70% to get a fourth at-large delegate.  In short, the best bet in Delaware is probably a 12-9 split in favor of Clinton.

In Rhode Island, the first district has eight delegates and the second has seven delegates.  As noted above, it will 56.25% to get a 5-3 split in the first.  While the winner of the second will get a 4-3 split, it will take 64.3% to up that to a 5-2 split.  There are three party leader delegates and six at-large delegates.  It is almost certain that the party leader delegates will be a 2-1 split, and it will take 58.34% to get a 4-2 split on the at-large delegates.  In other words, the losing candidate will almost certainly eight of the twenty-four delegates, and the most likely result is a 13-11 or 14-10 split.  Sanders probably needs a 16-8 win to stay alive, but is more likely to be on the losing side of a 14-10 split.

In Connecticut, the first district has eight delegates but the other four districts have seven delegates each and there are seven party leader delegates.  As such, see the above for the splits.  There are twelve at-large delegates, so it will take 54.17% to get a 7-5 split plus an additional 8.34%  for each additional delegate.  Given its closeness to New York, a Clinton win seems likely, but this is another one of those states that Sanders has to win to close the gap.   Sanders does have some hopes of doing well in the northern part of Connecticut (slightly more like the areas of New York and New England that Sanders has done well in, but the southern part of the state is solidly part of the New York City metropolitan area).    A good result for Sanders is probably only losing 29-26.  Sanders problem is that he can’t afford a 29-26 loss in Connecticut.

Maryland’s eight congressional districts have between six and ten delegates each (for a total of sixty-four district level delegates).  Specifically, the 1st has six delegates (taking 58.34% to get a 4-2 split and 75.0% to get a 5-1 split); the 2nd and 6th have seven delegates each (see discussion for Rhode Island above);  the 3rd and the 8th have eight delegates each (see discussion for Delaware above); the 5th and 7th have nine delegates each (the winner will get at least a 5-4 split but it takes 61.2% to get a 6-3 split then an additional delegate for each 11.1%); and the 4th district has ten delegates (55.01% to get a 6-4 split, plus an additional delegate for each 10%).   There are also ten party leader delegates and twenty-one at large delegates (the winner is guaranteed an 11-10 split with 54.8% needed for 12 delegates and an additional delegate for each 4.8% after that) for a total pledged delegate count of ninety-five.  Current polling would give Clinton approximately 56 delegates (a net of 17).

Finally, there is Pennsylvania.   Eighteen congressional districts ranging from five delegates to fourteen delegates (127 delegates total).  The 5th, 9th, 10th, and 16th have five delegates each (see discussion for Delaware above);  the 3rd, 4th, 11th, 12th, 15th, and 18th have six delegates each (see discussion for Maryland above); the 6th, the 8th, and the 17th have seven delegates each (see discussion for Rhode Island above); the 7th has eight delegates (see discussion for Rhode Island above),; the 13th and 14th have nine delegates each (see discussion for Maryland above); the 1st has ten delegates (see discussion for Maryland above); and the big prize is the 2nd with 14 delegates (roughly 53.58% to get an 8-6 split plus an additional delegate for each 7.15% on top of that).  There are twenty party leader delegates (52.51% for an 11-9 split and an additional delegate for each 5% on top of that) and forty-two at-large delegates (51.2% to get a 22-20 split and an additional delegate for each 2.4% on top of that) for a grand pledged delegate total of 189 pledged delegates.  Given the number of congressional districts, Pennsylvania is a little bit harder to predict, but based on current polling and past results,  Clinton is probably looking at around 106 delegates (a net of twenty-three delegates.)

Pennsylvania (like Illinois back in mid-March has the potential problem for voters of the rules for the two parties being exactly opposite.  For the Republicans, the direct vote for district-level delegate is all that matters for the selection of district delegates.  As a Republican, you want to vote for the three delegates most likely to support your preferred candidate.  For the Democrats, the vote for your preferred presidential candidate is the more important vote.  Your vote for delegate merely creates the priority list for that candidate’s delegates.  As a Democrat, you only want to vote for one or two delegates supporting your preferred candidate so that those two people get to go to the convention.

For both parties, all of the primaries are closed primaries (except for Rhode Island which permits independents to participate).  That should favor Clinton and might hurt Trump.  Besides the primary, the end of the week will bring the district conventions in Iowa.  If you heard Sanders’s campaign manager on Tuesday night, any strategy that Sanders has going forward involves picking up delegates in the later stages of the caucus states that appeared to go to Clinton at the initial level of the process.   (Some of his strategy appeared to be contrary to the delegate selectin plans as some of the states use a “firehouse” system in which delegates are allocated based on the precinct-level results rather than the results in later stages.)  Based on the precinct-level and county-level conventions, Clinton should win 15 of the 29 delegates being chosen in Iowa on the 30th.

At the end of the day, Clinton is hoping to get around 220 of the 384 delegates (or a net gain of 56).  That would give her a pledged delegate lead of around 300 with 1,000 pledged delegates still up for grabs.  Given the proportionality rules, that would require Sanders to get 70% of the vote in the remaining states.  It would also put Clinton within striking range of clinching the nominations if the remainder of the unpledged delegates announced their support for Clinton.   A sweep by Clinton will renew talk about   whether it is time for Sanders to focus on helping Democrats win Senate and House seats in November.

For Donald Trump, the numbers are more significant.  Currently, he has won 846 out of 1743 pledged delegates.  That means that he still trails the field by about 51 pledged delegates.  At some point, Trump needs to get above 50% of the pledged delegates if he wants to put pressure on the unpledged delegates to support him.  With 118 pledged delegates up for grabs he needs to take around 90 delegates to avoid needing to sweep California.  A bad day would have Trump getting fewer than 70 delegates; and a great day would have him getting 95-100 delegates.  More significantly, after Tuesday, the Republicans will be down to approximately 500 pledged delegates left with 172 coming from California.  Current polling suggests a district-by-district battle in California.  While Trump will probably win New Jersey (and its 51 delegates) on June 7, he is probably looking at losing Montana and South Dakota and getting around 12 delegates from New Mexico.  To avoid needing a sweep in California, Trump needs to get to at least 1,050 by the end of May.  To do that, he probably needs to be close to or over 950 at the end of the day on Tuesday.  If Trump loses any of the states on Tuesday (unlikely), and also loses California, he will probably have no chance at the nomination.

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