- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 14, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

As much of the media speculates on the outcome of the New York primary Tuesday and what it will mean for the Republican race, in reality, the outcome is predictable: Donald Trump will win.

And what will it mean for the Republican race? Most likely nothing. We won’t know until California.

Mr. Trump’s durability in the polls in the Northeast states, including New York, have remained stable despite of weeks of bad news for the Republican front-runner. According to the Real Clear Politics average of polls in the Empire State, Mr. Trump is leading with 54 percent the vote, compared with Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 22 percent and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s 18 percent.

In all likelihood, Mr. Trump will win New York – the question will be whether he wins all of its 95 delegates by surpassing the 50 percent threshold within the state and its districts. Pollster Nate Silver, believes Mr. Trump will win anywhere between 71 and 95 delegates, giving him a shot at reaching the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the Republican nomination before the July convention.

So where is the unpredictability? Where could Mr. Trump go off course? It lies in California, where there’s a diverse electorate, 172 delegates up for grabs, and no good polling yet available.



“I suspect the political commentariat hasn’t fully woken up to how monumental a finish California will be,” wrote Mr. Silver, in analyzing the state of the race in his SevenThirtyEight blog. “Even if Trump is going gangbusters and meeting or exceeding his path-to-1,237 projections, a poor performance in California could leave him well short of 1,237 delegates. Or if he has a disappointing May, he could salvage a chance at clinching the nomination with a strong finish there.”

Californians don’t go to the voting booth until June 7th, and a lot could happen between now and then, making the average of polls (which are favoring Mr. Trump right now) much less reliable.

In addition, the California is geographically large and politically diverse – with Latino strongholds in Southern California and wealthy Silicon Valley pockets in the north. Mr. Trump’s hard stance on immigration may play well with one audience, but repeal another.

The state also has a batch of socially conservative evangelicals (remember prop 8 anyone?) who could find Mr. Cruz’s message more appealing than Mr. Trump‘s.

The ground game is also going to be important – and that’s where Mr. Cruz excels.

So far this election cycle, Mr. Cruz hasn’t been outmatched when it comes to his getting out the vote efforts and the ability to taylor his message to specific audiences.

Whether it be in Iowa, Colorado, Kentucky or Maine (a state no one thought Mr. Cruz could win) he’s been able to identify what conservative messages resonate with different Republicans and bring them onto his campaign. He’s shown he’s able to build a broad coalition of conservative support.

This sort of micro-targeting message is going to be important in California, where the demographics are so diverse and each district – no matter if it’s located in a Democratic or Republican haven - all have three delegates up for grabs.

Mr. Trump’s campaign – which so far has been reliant on network television appearances and massive rallies – to both to get out the vote and communicate his message – may not be capable of a more nuanced, specific approach.

So we really don’t know what’s going to happen in the Golden State – meaning Republicans will just have to hold on to their hats until this rocky ride of a primary season ends June 7.

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