New York was generous Tuesday to its native son Donald Trump. He grabbed 89 of the 95 delegates up for grabs and for the first time in any state received more than 50% of the vote.
Mr. Trump’s sweeping victory was impressive. But, as Henry Olsen of the Ethics and Public Policy Center pointed out at National Review, it was also expected. New York Republicans tend to be self-described moderates, and either unchurched or Catholic—all groups that Mr. Trump has dominated in other states. Those demographic factors, combined with a home-field advantage, meant no one was going to deny The Donald.
While Team Trump rejoices, their candidate’s total delegate haul is pegged at 845 by the Associated Press. With 950 delegates in someone else’s column, the New York real estate tycoon is 105 behind his competitors and must win 58% of the remaining delegates for a first-ballot victory. He’s won 47% of those chosen so far.
The importance of a first-ballot victory is crucial: Mr. Trump has been walloped in the state and district party conventions where the actual delegates are selected. He will find himself in Cleveland with many men and women who are bound to him for only one or two ballots—but then are eager to vote for someone else.
One iron convention rule is that once a front-runner begins to slide, it is virtually impossible to reverse the decline. To shame delegates into sticking with him and rally support for the coming contests, Mr. Trump will continue attacking the GOP selection process, as he did Sunday on Staten Island, where he called it “rigged” and “corrupt and crooked.”
He has also intimated that violence will result if he is denied the nomination, suggesting last month there would be riots. His allies have threatened to post the hotel-room numbers where defectors—“double-agent” delegates, Mr. Trump calls them—are staying. Naturally, if violence resulted they say it would be beyond their control.
The New York businessman is also leaving the door open to an independent bid for the White House if he is denied the nomination at the national convention. “I have been treated very unfairly,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper late last month.
Republicans should be concerned about the suggestions of violence, but they can stop worrying about Mr. Trump’s threats to run as an independent. The reason is simple: According to the National Association of Secretaries of State, by the time Republicans gather in Cleveland on July 18, the deadline for Mr. Trump to be listed on the ballot as an independent will already have passed in 12 states with a combined 166 Electoral College votes.
First up is Texas. To be on the ballot as an independent, Mr. Trump must file, by May 9, a declaration of candidacy, slate of electors and signatures from roughly 80,000 registered voters—1% of state turnout during the 2012 presidential contest.
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