Attempts at Olympic Averaging the Future
Here's the article on the Republican side that I have been waiting for since last week's primaries ended, courtesy of the invaluable 538 site: "Will Trump Clinch?" The answer, unsurprisingly, is close. What is most helpful about the article is how it identifies the base requirements Trump will need in the upcoming contests.
I am assuming Trump wins Arizona and Cruz wins over 50% in Utah tomorrow, which would put him very slightly under the trajectory estimated here. Tough spot for Kasich from a game theory perspective - eating into Cruz's vote in either state hurts him in the long term, but there is nowhere else to campaign. The next stop on the tour is not for another two weeks in Wisconsin, and he might claim a moral victory in moving a few delegates to his column in Utah. But the latest projections show clearly just how fine a margin it may take to stop Trump. If that's the plan at all costs, then it is time for a serious non-agression pact between the remaining two pretenders.
Then again, it is not clear why Kasich should necessarily prefer the odious Cruz to the volatile and impudent Trump. So maybe he is just prolonging his time in the limelight, hoping against the odds that whatever delegates he scrambles together manage to mean something come July? You can see how Trump is succeeding in eating these career politicians up though, with the strained logic and blinkered perspective on display in interviews such as this. Or he is hinting at the type of three-dimensional chess strategy that Douthat was outlining rather hilariously recently in the NYT? If so, man, that kool-aid is strong.
The real story for now is that regardless of the upcoming outcomes, the world is in for an extended three month "will he or won't he?" saga. That narrative alone suits Trump fine, and barring some serious incident or unexpected drop in support, he's the nominee. Although is there ever anything certain under the sun, when Texas A&M can come back from 12 down with 44 seconds left to make the Sweet Sixteen? Spare a thought for the kids at Northern Iowa today. Such is the crazy randomness of this world. Just when you think you have seen it all...