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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Math called. Said Trump wins in a three-way race

The talking heads on cable news this morning at last realized that voters from defeated candidates will not necessarily all go to the latest candidate favored by the Republican Establishment. They fear Trump may pick up enough voters from the fallen candidates to beat Rubio in a three-way race.

I was there 10 days ago and posted this, which I bumped up today to share with those who may have missed this from February 15, 2016.

The Donald.

The Republican Establishment and the Conservative Commentariat assume that if all these lesser candidates dropped out, they could defeat Trump in a three-way race.

Well, we all know about assumptions. Let us do the math.

Using the Real Clear Politics Average Of Polls, we find The Donald at 29.5%, Cruz at 21%, and Rubio at 17.8. Sounds simple. Splitting the votes from the dropouts between Cruz and Rubio means Trump will finish third as such a split would put Cruz at 36.85%, Rubio at 33.65%, and Trump at 29.5%.

Sounds good, except what do you do with Kasich's 4%? Would all of those voters go to Rubio or would some of that 4% bleed to The Donald? Because Trump has done far better than even Kasich among liberals and moderates.

And what about Carson's 7.8%? Would they pick Trump over Cruz? Because after Iowa, many Carson supporters despise Cruz.

Christie's 2.5% are likely not going to the other two because his supporters seem more Donald-like.

So you have more than a third of the voters that Cruz and Rubio need actually leaning to The Donald. Oh dear.

If Trump gets the votes of Christie and Kasich and half of Carson's, and adds them to what he already has, Trump wins a three-way with 39.9%.

But there is another factor not considered. Some of that 31.7% left behind by those dropping out simply won't vote. And a non-vote goes to the leader. If they all sit home, The Donald wins by 8.5%. And any vote for Trump widens his lead.

So instead of two ways, the vote would be split four ways. In order for Cruz and Rubio to split the vote and win, they would need no more than 20% of the outstanding votes (6.34%) to stay home or no more than 10% of the outstanding votes (3.17%) to go to Trump.

This scenario also requires Trump not to bring in any more new voters to the party.

So a split of the vote between Cruz and Rubio most likely favors Trump.

OK, the theory of a three-way also goes that either Cruz or Rubio would win the 31.7% the losers leave behind. That would win for either one.

But Cruz relies very heavily on the evangelical Christian support, particularly in his Get Out The Vote effort. Both Huckabee and Santorum followed that path to a dead end. And Rubio has a longer way to go to catch up.

Also, most of the dropout vote going to one guy is unlikely to stop Trump because it would require Trump's share to remain static or to rise very little.

And keeping his votes from rising is also iffy because polls show that Trump is the second choice for many Republicans. And while Cruz is slightly ahead of Trump when first and second choices are combined, the numbers are occluded by how many of Trump's second choices are among Cruz and Rubio voters, how many seconds for Cruz are Trump and Rubio voters, and how many seconds for Rubio are Trump and Cruz voters.

Rubio's hope is that most of Trump's seconds are from Cruz voters and most of Cruz's are from Trump voters, which would render them meaningless.

But wait, there is more. How many Bush seconds are for Carson, Christie or Fiorina? Et cetera. This works to Trump's favor because another question is will a voters go with their third, fourth or fifth choice?

In order for Rubio to win, he has to make up an 11.7% deficit among 31.7% of the vote (again, assuming that 31.7% is static. Therefore, in order to win Rubio needs more than half of that 31.7% (or 15.85) and hope that Trump and Rubio split the remainder in such a way that neither man gets more than 33.6%. Unlikely because that would mean Cruz getting no more than 12.6 of the 31.7 and Trump no more than 4.1 of the 31.7. And even then it is a very narrow win.

Cruz appears to have a better chance because his gap is smaller. However, because so many in the establishment hate him, it is unlikely that he would get enough votes to topple Trump.

Here is what we do know. The Republican Establishment and the Conservative Commentariat have been against The Donald even before Day One. He is now the only candidate to both win and finish second in a primary/caucus. He has the most votes. He has the most delegates.

Trump is likely to continue dominating the field not because the field is too crowded but because his numbers follow the Bush/Dole.Bush/McCain/Romney line more closely than any other candidate. Cruz follows Huckabee/Santorum. I have no idea who the vote the others follow -- and neither do they.

What is the likeliest outcome if 31.7% of the voters are suddenly unleashed to the three remaining candidates? The possibilities are numerous, but likely favor Trump because the median outcome is that they will be split the other votes the same way they split the votes they already have, making the outcome:
Trump 43.2%
Cruz 30.7%
Rubio 26.1%
Those are not the odds of winning, but rather the midpoint of the various outcomes.

Those median figures mean in 50% of the scenarios, Trump has an even wider lead -- and he also wins in a large percentage of the below-median scenarios. Far from damaging Trump, he would do even better in a three-way. Instead of being up 8.5 points, he has a 50% chance of being up 12.5 points or more in a three-way.

At any rate, the math shows he is the most likely to win in a three-way battle.

Using the Reuters tracking poll, the numbers are better for The Donald. The median for that poll when extrapolated to a three-way race are:
Trump 55.6%
Cruz 26.1%
Rubio 18.3%
Forget the polls for a minute. Follow the pols. Who is drawing the biggest crowds in the most places?

Trump drew a capacity crowd in Vermont. Vermont! Bernie's state.

Cruz draws big crowds too, but we are not seeking a pastor-in-chief.

The rest of the pack are Sominex candidates, including Rubio.

And that is what the polls seem to reflect.


  1. "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." - H.L. Mencken

  2. This post was real physics of political theory Don.RF is watching you know...

  3. I'm for Cruz, but leaning toward Trump. The rest of these dudes. I'm not sure I could even bother to get out of bed on election day for them. And the down ticket stuff doesn't matter. I live in a university liberal fever swamp in a Republican state. It hardly matters if I go to the polls, and I'm tired of holding my nose while I vote. Rubio should stick his head in a dirty toilet and keep flushing until he passes out with his head under water.

  4. Rubio is the Harvey Dent of Republican immigration politics. (But with a more innocent mien than the fabled Gotham D.A.). -Dooley

  5. Nobody told me there'd be math.

  6. Surber finally agrees with me!
    All I have heard for eight years now is that putting Republicans in office are the answer to everything Obama has screwed up. So what happens when it comes time to pick the Republican messiah, voters are choosing the least-Republican/least conservative of the bunch.
    So what I hear you saying Surber is that the answer to that evil Obama and evil Democrats is not to elect a conservative Republican but an angry billionaire running on the Republican ticket. Genius!!
    Congratulations, you finally agree with what I have been saying for 20-plus years. It's not the Democratic or Republican party that is the problem. It is the Wall Street party that has run this country for years is the problem. Too bad the two potential anti-establishment candidates to finally unseat both the Rs and Ds at once (Trump or Sanders) are crackpots.

  7. I, for one, welcome our new Trump overlord. - Elric

  8. How long before the conservative commentariat launches their Banzai charge?

    - Mikey NTH

    1. How long before the don their ceremonial robes and commit sepukku?
      Silly me; they won't.

  9. Trump will win, I saw a poll that has determined the president for the last 104 yrs accurately...

    the poll says Trump has a 97-99% chance to win. it has only been wrong once in history. (when there was massive voter fraud which explains why it was wrong that single time)

    If the GOP wants to win, they need to Trump as the nominee. ...Rubio can't draw in people because of his support for amnesty, and Cruz is proven not to accomplish anything on immigration/wall building do I know that?

    ....Ted Cruz ran for the Senate on Building the wall/against illegals - but when he won... he balked on said idea.
    ....hence, why it came up again in this presidential election - and why it resonates/resounds with voters so much it has put Trump in the lead.

    ...hillary/bernie will do the opposite on immigration.... they won't build any wall or enforce the borders and the voters know the dems won't because they love the illegal vote.

  10. I just got an RNC request for money. I filed it under Waste Paper.

    1. I always send such requests back with an explanation about why I'm not donating. Maybe if they receive enough of them they'll take a hint. I especially like the ones that say "Using your stamp will save us money." I get to mail them for free! - Elric

  11. It's not often one sees a journalist attempt math.

    1. It is like seeing a dog walking on his hind legs, it is not remarkable in that it is done well, rather in that it was done at all. - Samuel Johnson

      _ Mikey NTH

    2. I do that when possible, which is infrequently to dang-near-never.

  12. If you compare February numbers to January numbers (which shows you the net effect of six candidates withdrawing, some erosion in Bush's and Carson's support, and confounding factors), it actually does appears as if all the benefit from the reshuffling repaired to Rubio and Kasich. It would be reasonable to assume that the Rubio, Kasich, and Bush partisans will coalesce if the opportunity presents itself. The Carson voters are a tougher call.

  13. Cruz draws big crowds too, but we are not seeking a pastor-in-chief.

    Cruz is a lawyer. His father is the minister (and it's a second career for his father).