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Texas, Florida, Ohio … What If, What If, What If

What If
Texas, Florida, Ohio ... What If, What If, What If

What happens if Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich win or lose their home states?

It’s crunch time in the bid for the GOP nomination and if Donald Trump is to be denied the victory there has to be an abrupt shift in the current direction of the race.

There is, as of this writing, no compelling reason why Cruz, Rubio or Kasich should even consider dropping out now but that is going to change between March 1 and March 15. While one could ponder for days the permutations of delegate math with 1,375 delegates up for grabs in the next three weeks, let’s focus on three states and the “what ifs” they create.

More specifically let’s look at what could happen under the premise that if Cruz, Rubio or Kasich lose their home state then there is a compelling argument they should drop out of the race immediately, whether they endorse another candidate or not.

Public polling is spotty in all three states, though there is a bit more in Texas since it is the first of the three “home states” of Cruz, Rubio and Kasich to vote, so we’ll start there.

Texas GOP Primary Polling Average

Texas Primary PollingImage created with HuffPost Pollster

Cruz currently enjoys a 7 point lead over Trump in Texas and he certainly has the ground game in place to drive his supporters to vote. That’s the good news for the senator but the flip side is it sets him up for the most devastating of body blows should he not win next Tuesday. If late deciding voters swing to Trump and he defeats Cruz with a notably lesser ground game and little to no purchased airtime it is a clear indicator that Cruz’ run is over.

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Florida GOP Primary Polling Average

Florida Primary PollingImage created with HuffPost Pollster

In Florida, Rubio has the exact opposite working both for and against him as Cruz has in Texas. Currently polling third, notably 26 points behind Trump, there is only upside for the senator. If Rubio cannot close the gap and win Florida he has little argument in favor of his viability going forward. But if he can overcome the current deficit and manage a win in his home state, he would have a considerable case to make as the “establishment” candidate going forward.

Ohio GOP Primary Polling Average

Ohio Primary PollingImage created with HuffPost Pollster

The lack of public polling in Ohio makes the analysis harder on one hand but it really doesn’t matter. The bottom line is Kasich must win Ohio outright or his candidacy is finished, something the governor has already made quite clear. What little the numbers reveal is it’s a close race as of now between the governor and Trump, but expect to see far more polling in The Buckeye State after next Tuesday’s primaries.

So what if …

What if all three win their home states? Then it’s hard to see a path forward, unless one of them were to still drop out, that doesn’t maintain the current fractured field and that begets a Trump victory.

What if Cruz wins Texas, Rubio loses Florida and Kasich wins Ohio? Assuming, as he should, Rubio packs it in, Kasich becomes the candidate with the greatest appeal to the national party and the more temperate voters in the remaining states. The question would then be if any of the three candidates – Cruz, Kasich or Trump – could actually garner sufficient delegates to get the nod before the convention.

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What if Cruz wins, Rubio wins and Kasich loses? It’s effectively the same scenario as above and the distinct possibility of a brokered convention.

What if Cruz loses Texas, Rubio loses Florida and Kasich wins Ohio, or Rubio wins Florida and Kasich loses Ohio? This would be the best scenario for the anti-Trump movement. If come the morning of March 16 it was a two-man battle between Trump and Rubio or Kasich, then the classic horse race is on for the remaining 964 delegates plus the reallocation of the released delegates. While Trump may pad his delegate count between March 1 and March 15, the reallocation of delegates from those candidates who drop out would likely cut his lead to a beatable level.

Finally, what if all three lose their home states? Simple, Donald Trump gets the nomination.

To those who are calling for any candidate to drop out now, I will say in closing, you’re wrong to even suggest such an act is appropriate, and you are not living in reality. The “what ifs” are simply too great and too unpredictable before March 15, but come March 16 two things should absolutely be true – we should have fewer candidates left standing and the picture leading up to the convention should be much clearer.


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Tom Dougherty
About Tom Dougherty 23 Articles
Political data expert who detests apathy and respects accountability. President & CEO of Practical Politicking. Headed back to sea soon aboard DANGER ZONE, my Melges 24 racing sailboat.

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