Two recent stories in the news highlight the Cruz campaign and the next primary battle on April 19th in New York. At the invitation of the principal, Ted Cruz was to appear at the Bronx Lighthouse College Preparatory Academy- a charter school. However, students petitioned the principal with a threatened walk-out if Cruz appeared noting that the candidate was anti-immigration and the Bronx and this school is heavily Hispanic. Some believe this act of civil disobedience should be applauded. Obviously, they are preparing themselves well for colleges like Oberlin and Brandeis where they can practice civil disobedience by stifling dissenting opinion. Never mind the fact that they attend a charter school- a key cog in the school choice movement- and that Cruz is a strong supporter of school choice. Yes- the misplaced recklessness of youth. And that recklessness won the day because the invitation was rescinded.
But, Cruz did make an appearance in the Bronx anyway at a Hispanic/Asian fusion restaurant at the request of a Democratic, somewhat conservative (for the Bronx) pastor. Even then, by most accounts, more media types showed up than Ted Cruz supporters. In fact, he was met by some demonstrators.
A lot of the animosity stems from two facts: (1) his stance on immigration and (2) the “New York values” statement earlier in the campaign. With respect to the latter, the phrase is a reference to the elitist liberal attitudes that pervade strongholds like the Acela corridor, Hollywood, and the Socialist Republic of Seattle. Plus, Cruz had previously and jokingly made what many felt was a derogatory comment about the Bronx specifically.
These incidents beg the question as to why Cruz is even in New York in the first place. The answer is in the way the state awards delegates. At first glance, one’s eyes bulge at the delegates available in the state- 95 total. But, only 14 of those 95 delegates go the overall winner in the state. This is Trump’s home turf and he will likely get the majority of the state’s delegates. Unless there is a Trump implosion of the highest order, Trump starts with a 14 point advantage. In the Realclearpolitics average of polls out of New York, Trump is consistently over the 50% mark with Cruz in third behind Kasich.
The remaining 81 delegates are awarded on a Congressional district basis. Each district gets 3 delegates. The winner of that district gets 2 of the 3 delegates with second place getting 1 delegate IF that person gets 20% of the vote. However, if first place gets 50% of the vote in any district, then they get all three delegates and second place gets none.
Consider the Bronx which in 2012 gave Romney only 29,967 votes of almost 371,000 cast. Clearly, the Bronx is not a conservative or even moderately Republican stronghold. But, it is spread over five New York Congressional districts to varying degrees. In 2012, a little over 1,200 people participated in the Republican primary in the Bronx.
If we assume that there will be similar turnout this year of about 1,400 spread over 5 districts, the bar is rather low for picking up at least one delegate from these districts. For example, if only 300 people vote in one district, then all a candidate needs is to finish second with 60 votes and keep the winner under 50% which with Kasich running is possible. If the anti-Trump vote for Cruz and Kasich equals 51%, then that is half the battle. And in these liberal districts if the people dislike Cruz, they loathe Trump over immigration. The compounding problem is Kasich- the fall back candidate.
In fact, even with the allegedly more conservative upstate districts a more accurate reading is that they are moderate. That would likely favor Kasich. Hence, it is very likely that all three candidates will emerge from New York with delegates. I would even go so far as to suggest that Kasich will do fairly well in the delegate haul. But, that is a good thing since it is not a delegate for Trump. Except in a few selected districts Kasich serves a purpose- keeping Trump below 50% in the majority of the districts.
Some may argue that a vote for Kasich denies Cruz a vote, but that makes the assumption a Kasich supporter would automatically go to Cruz. With only two candidates in the race, one obviously would reach greater than 50% and that is a risky proposition if it were just Cruz and Trump.
So, what is the most likely outcome? Trump should get about 43 delegates with Cruz and Kasich basically splitting the other 52 with 26 a piece. What would be a good night for Cruz in New York? Getting anywhere above 30 delegates. And surprisingly, a good night for Cruz would be Kasich getting anywhere above 30 delegates. Because at this point, every instance of denying Trump a delegate is a victory. And although Trump will trumpet his “yuuuge’ victory, the Not Trump contingent will still be in the lead.
New York is followed by Delaware (16 winner take all), Rhode Island (19 straight proportional), Maryland (38 winner take all by congressional district), Connecticut (28 winner take all by congressional district) and Pennsylvania. Although most eyes will be on Pennsylvania, remember that there are only 14 bound delegates awarded winner take all based on the statewide vote. The remainder (54) go to Cleveland unbound when the real fun begins.