Given the results in last night’s New York Republican primary (Trump 60.5%/Kasich 25.1%/Cruz 14.5%), and assuming a degree of similarity between the New York Republican electorate and the Rhode Island Republican electorate, the most important question relevant to the Rhode Island Republican primary has become this: Is Ted Cruz a lock to get 10% of the vote or not?
Projecting the New York numbers ahead and applying Rhode Island’s (reasonably clear, by the way) delegate selection rules provides a great illustration of this. Suppose Rhode Island’s numbers in next Tuesday’s primary are similar to New York’s, and both Congressional districts roughly parallel the statewide totals. If that were to be the case, of the 16 delegates to be selected in next Tuesday’s RI GOP primary…
- 8 would likely go to Donald Trump (6 statewide + 2 Congressional),
- 5 would likely go to John Kasich (3 statewide + 2 Congressional), and
- 3 would likely go to Ted Cruz (1 statewide + 2 Congressional)
However, if Cruz misses the 10% threshold, even if Kasich gets all of the votes that Cruz would have, Trump will still do better than he would if Cruz gets to 10%. With only two candidates receiving delegates, i) Trump gets 2 of 3 delegates from each Congressional district (unless Kasich outright beats Trump in one or both districts, which seems unlikely), and ii) the statewide delegate that Cruz would have won goes to either Trump or Kasich, depending on the exact apportionment formula that’s used.
When the votes are finally counted, the difference between Ted Cruz getting slightly more than 10% of the vote and slightly less than 10% of the vote will be either 2 or 3 fewer delegates for Donald Trump.
In other words, contrary to some of the conventional wisdom out there, for Rhode Island voters whose primary goal is to “stop Trump” ahead of anything else, voting for Ted Cruz at this point, to make sure he gets over 10% regardless of whether you want him to be the nominee or not, makes more sense in Rhode Island than voting for John Kasich.