As this week’s primaries showed, with Kasich and Cruz out, it’s only a matter of time until Trump gets to 1,237 delegates. There are still pitfalls ahead for Trump, but those pitfalls are about the convention going rogue on the platform and the vice-presidential pick. Whether that happens depends upon how much Trump wants to alter the 2012 platform (which is hard to tell given how vague Trump’s actual positions are) and whether Trump can find an acceptable vice-presidential candidate. Over the next two week’s the Republicans will have primaries in Oregon (May 17) and Washington (May 24). Oregon allocates its twenty-eight delegates proportionally with no winner-take-all provision; so Cruz and Kasich should get some delegates, but Trump should take twenty or more delegates. Washington allocates thirty delegates by congressional district and fourteen delegates state-wide. Given that Washington has a twenty percent threshold for winning delegates, Trump is likely to get all forty-four. Including the uncommitted delegates who have pledged to support Trump, Washington should put Trump unofficially over the top.
For the Democratic Party, the next two weeks consists of two primaries (Oregon and Kentucky on May 17), the Nebraska county conventions spread out over the two weeks, the Washington Congressional District conventions on May 21, and the Wyoming state convention on May 28.
Kentucky has six congressional districts ranging from four to nine delegates (thirty-seven delegates total). The first district has five delegates (a 3-2 split unless a candidate gets to 70% of the vote); the second and fourth districts have six delegates (3-3 unless a candidate gets to 58.34%); the third district has nine delegate (5-4 unless a candidate gets to 61.2%); the fifth district has four delegates (2-2 unless a candidate gets to 62.6%), and the sixth district has seven delegates (4-3 unless a candidate gets to 64.3%). Using West Virginia and Indiana as guides, Sanders is probably looking at a 25-12 split at best. There are also six pledged party leaders and twelve at-large delegates (6-6 unless a candidate gets to 54.17%). With a 4-2 and 8-4 split, Sanders would get a final edge of 37-18 over Clinton.
Oregon has five congressional districts, but it splits one district (the second) into two parts. Each of the two parts of the second has three delegates — effectively assuring a 2-1 split in both districts. The first district has nine delegates (5-4 unless a candidate gets to 61.2%), the third district has eleven delegates (6-5 unless a candidate gets to 59.1%), the fourth district has eight delegates (4-4 unless a candidate gets to 58.25%), and the fifth district has seven delegates (4-3 unless a candidate gets to 64.3%). Given that all of the neighboring states had caucuses rather than primaries, it is hard to project any results for Oregon. However, Sanders needs something better than a 28-13 split. Getting the same 72% that Sanders got in Washington would just barely give him that 28-13 split (if it is uniform across the state). Oregon also has seven pledged party leader delegates and thirteen at-large delegates (7-6 unless a candidate gets 57.7%). Again using that 72% number from Washington, Sanders would be looking at 43 delegates to 18 for Clinton.
At this stage of the race, while Sanders needs those wins over Clinton, he actually needs to do even better in Oregon than he did in Washington and better in Kentucky than he did in West Virginia and Indiana. With thirty-six delegates from Oregon and Kentucky (assuming no major surprises this weekend at the Alaska and Nevada state conventions), Clinton would be within 130 delegates of clinching the nomination with 170 unpledged delegates still available. These delegates will probably stay on the fence a little bit longer unless Clinton gets a clear win early in Kentucky. If Clinton does get a clear win in Kentucky, these delegates may decide that it is time to end the race.
As noted above, there are also further stages of caucuses. In Nebraska, the Democrats will have county conventions — the second stage of the process. Actual delegates are not allocated until the state convention. Sanders has a tentative lead of 15-10 based on the results of the precinct caucuses. None of the delegate splits is particularly close, and the closest split is for a Sanders delegate in the first congressional district.
In Washington, the Democrats will have the congressional district conventions. As best as I can figure out, these conventions will allocate all of the delegates. (The state-wide delegates are based on the percentage of congressional district delegates that each of the candidate gets.) Washington apparently has released the percentage of delegates that each candidate won to these conventions, but I have not seen the exact numbers on-line. Those estimates give Sanders a 49-18 split at the congressional district levels. Those estimates also give Sanders a 25-9 split of the state-wide delegates. (Without the exact breakdown, it is difficult to see whether Sanders has any shot at picking up additional delegates. Based on the Green Papers estimate, it looks like Sanders has a better chance at losing a delegate than picking additional delegates.)
Finally, there is the Wyoming state convention. While the district-level delegates are allocated based on the vote at the county mass meetings, the state-wide level delegates (four at-large and two pledged party leader delegates) are allocated based on the vote at the state convention. Sanders only received 55% of the support at the county conventions. To gain one more delegate at the state convention, he needs to increase his support to 62.5%. That would require a swing of 19 out of 280 delegates.
In short, these next two weeks will feature some nominally good results for Sanders. However, Sanders supporters are slowly learning the lesson (but even more so) that Clinton supporters learned eight years ago when Clinton was picking up wins in the late contests — namely that the proportional nature of the delegate allocation gives a big advantage to the candidate who can win by substantial margins in the early states making it next to impossible to come from behind in the last two months of the race. At this stage of the race, Sanders has to be able to do the political equivalent of pulling a hat out of a rabbit to close a 740 delegate gap. At this point, even without any major movement by the remaining unpledged delegates, Clinton is likely to clinch the nomination shortly after the polls close in New Jersey on June 7.