Can Trump still win on the first ballot?
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Over the past month, I've outlined the number of delegates Donald TrumpDonald TrumpHouse votes to condemn Chinese government over Hong Kong Former Vice President Walter Mondale dies at age 93 White House readies for Chauvin verdict MORE needs to win state-by-state to reach the 1,237 votes required to clinch the Republican nomination on the first ballot. Since the original analysis, Trump has met all of his state targets, except for Wisconsin and Colorado. To compensate for that shortfall, we've raised his targets in other states.

Trump now has 844 delegates. He needs 393 more. Here are revised state-by-state targets for Trump to win a first-ballot nomination:

  • April 26: Connecticut, 20 of 28; Delaware, 16 of 16; Maryland, 28 of 38; Pennsylvania, 40 of 71; Rhode Island, 11 of 19
  • May 3: Indiana, 22 of 57
  • May 10: Nebraska, 36 of 36; West Virginia, 25 of 34
  • May 17: Oregon, 13 of 28
  • May 24: Washington state, 20 of 44
  • June 7: California, 102 of 172; Montana, zero of 27; New Jersey, 51 of 51; New Mexico, nine of 24; and South Dakota, zero of 29

To meet these targets, Trump needs to win 115 delegates out of 172 at stake on April 26. Based on recent polling, that appears highly possible. The one wrinkle is the way Pennsylvania elects its delegates, which not only requires Trump to win 40 delegates on primary night, but to hold them until the convention and then through multiple ballots.


Trump also needs to win 116 delegates out of 199 at stake in May. Nebraska is critical because it's winner-take-all. Should Trump lose Nebraska, he'd then need to make up that 36-delegate shortfall — which he technically could do out of South Dakota, Montana and/or California, but that wouldn't be easy to accomplish. If Trump loses Nebraska and can't pick up compensating delegates from anywhere else, he'd have a total of 1,201, 36 short of what he needs for a first-ballot nomination. As you can see, Nebraska is an important state.

From the June 7 primaries, Trump needs to capture 162 of the 303 delegates on the block. This will require winning all 51 of New Jersey's delegates, a winner-take-all state that he is likely to carry. He also needs to get a hefty share (102) of California's 172 delegates. In California, 13 at-large delegates go to the candidate receiving the most votes in the statewide primary. Also, 159 district delegates are determined by the primary results in each of the state's 53 congressional districts. Each district's three delegates are winner-take-all; they go to the top primary vote-getter in that district.

Our current targets assume Trump wins no delegates from two winner-take-all states that vote on June 7, South Dakota and Montana. These two states should be viewed as possible safety valves for Trump, should he fall short in other states.

The bottom line is this: Trump is highly likely to go to the convention with the most delegates and it's still possible he can win a majority on the first ballot. But he doesn't have a lot of room for error. Taking unnecessary chances would be a mistake for his campaign. He now needs to consolidate, reassure and unify.

Faucheux is president of Clarus Research Group, a nonpartisan polling firm based in Washington, D.C. An author and political analyst, he also publishes, a daily newsletter on polls.