Last night, Cruz gave Trump a run for his money, with wins in Kansas and Maine, a push (by delegate count, though Trump won it by vote count) in Louisiana, and a loss in a tight race in Kentucky. If you look at the delegate count, Trump has 382 to Cruz’ 300, and if you assume that Rubio and Kasich delegates would vote Cruz at the convention, Cruz is ahead.
Since 3 of the 4 races yesterday were caucuses, Cruz’ performance could be due to his hard core supporters packing those contests. To take that into account, I modified my dirt simple model to give Cruz a better shot at caucus wins. Cruz fares slightly better, but it makes little difference overall, since I’m still assuming that Trump wins all the winner-take-all primaries except Ohio, which will net him a little under 800 delegates, pushing him over the top.
So far, Trump has won most of the states with primaries. Cruz won Texas and neighboring state Oklahoma, and almost won his other neighbor, Louisiana. But second place is first loser in winner-take-alls. The only path to the Republican nomination that does not involve a floor fight is Cruz winning most of the remaining states with primaries, and that seems pretty unlikely, given the current polling. Cruz seems to do well in the South, but Missouri and Florida are the only winner-take-all primaries left in the South, and Trump has a pretty big lead in Florida. Little Marco could add Wisconsin to his win in Minnesota, if he has a heretofore invisible upper Midwest pocket of strength.
That all said, when the dust settles, the best case anti-Trump scenario for Republicans is Lying Ted as a nominee. The Republican base just isn’t in a mood to nominate a non-hater, so all they’re arguing about is whether they like orange-flavored or evangelical-flavored haterade. I don’t know about you, but I think Cruz is a worse general election candidate than Trump.