How Donald Trump Could Clinch the Nomination

Trump still has hurdles to clear, marking a narrow but viable path to victory.

March 16, 2016, 6:07 PM

— -- With a major victory in Florida last night, Donald Trump now has more than half of the delegates he needs to clinch the GOP presidential nomination.

But the real estate mogul still has several major hurdles to clear, marking a narrow but viable path to the magic number of 1,237 delegates.

If Trump can’t win a majority of available delegates, the three remaining Republican contenders could face off at a contested convention, where most delegates will be free to vote for whomever they want after the first ballot.

Here are five things you need to know about how Trump’s could clinch the nomination:

1. Donald Trump Realistically Can’t Clinch The Nomination Until The Last Day Of Voting

If you’re anxious for Donald to wrap up the GOP nomination, you’ve got some waiting to do.

The real estate mogul would need to win a whopping 78 percent of the remaining delegates before June 7 in order to clinch the nomination -– virtually impossible given the number of states that dole out their delegates proportionally.

On that final day of voting just six weeks before the convention, Trump will need a win in the crucial winner-take-all contest in New Jersey, as well as a broad victory in delegate-rich California, where congressional districts award nearly all of the state's 172 delegates.

2. Arizona Marks A Must-Win Just One Week Away

Arizona marks the biggest upcoming winner-take-all delegate prize, with all 58 delegates available to the winner. This allocation gives Trump ample opportunity to beef up his delegate haul and simultaneously set Ted Cruz and John Kasich back even further.

The brash front-runner has already held several rallies in Arizona, where his oft-touted phrase about building a wall on the Mexican border is likely have strong appeal. Not to mention, he has the endorsement of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is widely known for his hawkish immigration stance.

If Trump wins in Arizona, he’ll need 52 percent of the remaining delegates, compared to 58 percent if he loses.

3. Run Up The Score In Big Blue States Like New York and California

While Arizona is the biggest delegate prize of the winner take all states, New York and California, which cast votes April 19 and June 7 respectively, have the biggest delegate prizes overall. And Trump has a chance to pick up a majority of the delegates there, if he plays his cards right.

Both have potential to become winner-take-all if a candidate racks up over 50 percent of the vote, both statewide and in congressional districts.

If Trump manages to rack up huge margins across all regions of the states, the way he did in South Carolina, he has potential to amass all of the two states’ combined 267 delegates.

4. Yes, Donald Trump Can Even Afford To Lose A Few States

If Trump is able to win big in major states like California and New York, he can afford to cede a couple of states to Ted Cruz and John Kasich.

He can afford to drop states like Nebraska, Montana and South Dakota, where Cruz is more likely to win. He’ll also be watching his back in Midwestern states like Wisconsin and Indiana, where John Kasich will hope to chip away at Trump’s delegate advantage.

5. The Wild Cards: Unbound Delegates Could Put Trump Over The Top

State Republican parties have allocated 143 of their delegates as “unbound,” which means they can support whoever they want and change their mind until the convention.

The number of unbound delegates is likely to rise now that Rubio has dropped out and some previously pledged to the Florida senator now fall in the uncommitted category.

After June 7 comes and goes, if Trump hasn’t hit 1,237 delegates and some delegates remain uncommitted, their eleventh-hour decision to back the real estate mogul could edge Trump across the finish line on the first ballot and set a contested convention into motion in Cleveland.

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