Ted Cruz has been having a bad week. Not only did he lose the New York primary, he lost so badly that Ben Carson, who’s not even running for president anymore, beat him in part of Westchester. The loss completely shut him out of receiving any delegates from New York, leading to a very important development: It is now mathematically impossible for Ted Cruz to win the Republican nomination prior to the convention.
According to the Associated Press, there are not enough delegates in the remaining primary states for Cruz to win the 1,237 needed to clinch the Republican nomination on the first ballot. Ted Cruz needs 678 more delegates, but only 674 remain.
Turns out, when you insult “New York values,” New Yorkers will respond in kind. And this time, they responded by making Ted Cruz’s loser status official, at least for now.
Unfortunately, Cruz still has a path toward the nomination, though it is now a lot more convoluted. Ted Cruz is now pushing for a contested convention, which could occur if Donald Trump doesn’t win enough delegates to get to 1,237 before the convention. (In typical Ted Cruz fashion, he is lying in his stump speeches and saying that nobody has a chance to get 1,237 even though Donald Trump is well within reach.)
If Trump doesn’t win on the first ballot, a certain number of delegates become unbound, and could switch their votes to Cruz. That’s what Ted Cruz is hoping will happen. (Josh Voorhees at Slate wrote a great explainer for how a contested convention could work, if you want to learn more.)
Of course, as we Texans know, Ted Cruz is used to sneaking in from second place to first. Remember, he received fewer votes than David Dewhurst in the Republican primary race for his senate seat. He got just enough votes to keep Dewhurst from an outright majority, forcing a runoff. Then, he made the low turnout in the runoff work to his advantage, firing up just enough right wing voters that he edged Dewhurst out. Ted Cruz effectively won his senate seat with just 631,316 votes — or only 4.8% of the total number of registered voters in Texas.
It seems like Cruz is gunning for a similar strategy in this race, getting just enough primary delegates to stop Trump from an outright majority in the first round, then convincing just enough right wing extremists to vote for him in the second round that he narrowly wins his desired seat. Only time will tell if he can get away with it — he’s far more disliked in 2016 than he was in 2012 — but let’s hope the Republican party learns from Texas, and lets Ted Cruz keep his “loser” status, no matter how many rounds of voting occur.