Math: Donald Trump has 90-percent chance of winning GOP nomination

February 24, 2016
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks to the ceiling referencing the height of a promised immigration wall during a rally at the The Myrtle Beach Sports Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, February 19, 2016.  REUTERS/Randall Hill

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks to the ceiling referencing the height of a promised immigration wall during a rally at the The Myrtle Beach Sports Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, February 19, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill

New Hampshire, South Carolina and now Nevada: the evidence is mounting that Donald Trump will be the Republican presidential nominee. Those who doubt a Trump victory believe that Republican voters will at some point come to their senses, while others see a narrowing field as one that favors Trump’s competition. We have always been bullish on a Trump nomination. Indeed, in September, we gave Trump a 45 percent chance of being nominated. Today, less than a week before Super Tuesday, we give Trump a 90 percent chance of winning the Republican Party nomination based on the available evidence.

Here’s why.

First, Trump leads in almost all polls — both at the national and state levels. Of the 19 national polls conducted since the Feb. 2 Iowa caucuses, 18 show Trump in the lead. This is very telling; indeed, if we take each of these polls as a proxy for the primary, Trump has a 95 percent chance of winning the nomination.

This simple count holds up when looking at the limited state level polling as well. Take Marco Rubio’s home state of Florida, for instance: to date, all the polls have shown Trump in the lead, with Rubio only a distant second. Of all the state polls conducted since the South Carolina primary (14 by our count), Trump wins in 11 of them, or about an 80 percent chance of winning

This is all very strong evidence of the eventuality of a Trump nomination. Second, contrary to pundit belief, Trump has not lost ground since Jeb Bush bowed out. A recurring argument is that Trump won’t be able to get more than 35 percent of Republican party votes, and that once the weaker candidates exit, stronger names like Rubio and Ted Cruz will only gain ground relative to Trump.

However, our data does not bear this out. The polling actually shows the reverse trend — the majority of voters citing Trump as their choice when the list is narrowed down to Trump, Cruz and Rubio.

  1. If the Republican primary came down to these three candidates, for whom would you vote?
Supporters of Republicans Who’ve Dropped out Supporters of Kasich and Carson All Republicans and Independents
Donald Trump 21% 20% 37%
Ted Cruz 29% 35% 21%
Marco Rubio 28% 30% 17%

Source: Reuters/Ipsos Poll, February 2016

And if somehow the race narrows to a two-way contest, Reuters/Ipsos polling shows that Trump still comes out on top. In fact, Rubio’s antidisestablishmentarian faction should be worried about Cruz leaving the race, as Cruz voters are just as likely to go to Trump as they are to support Rubio.

  1. If the Republican primary came down to these three candidates, for whom would you vote?
Repubs & Indeps     Repubs & Indeps
Donald Trump 43% Donald Trump 45%
Ted Cruz 33% Marco Rubio 31%

Source: Reuters/Ipsos Poll, February 2016

Third, Trump is the right person at the right time with the right message. He speaks to the Republican base, and they in turn give him the benefit of the doubt. The counter-argument goes something like: Trump can only commit so many gaffes and be irreverent so many times before he will crash and burn. Well, to date, he has been the Teflon candidate — few would have survived a fight with the pope and a series of overt policy reversals. Trump has not only survived, but flourished. On this point, more importantly, the fundamental question is why?

Here the evidence might be less direct, but equally compelling. What Trump says and does strongly resonates with the Republican base. First, Americans in general and the Republican base in particular are frustrated and fearful of the future. They believe that the middle class is dying; that the system is rigged against them; and that traditional parties and politicians have no solution to their problems.


Moreover, they believe only a strong leader willing to break the rules will be able to fix a broken America: Trump’s persona par excellence! Seventy-one percent of Trump supporters agree with this statement, compared to 49 percent of all Americans.

This general angst, coupled with a strong America First tendency in the Republican base, make Trump’s brand of populism especially appealing. This is fertile ground for Trump. He speaks the language of the people; he understands their fears. And they in turn give him the benefit of the doubt.

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Taken as a whole, the body of evidence is very compelling. All things point to a Trump nomination. Of course, the critics might say that “anything and everything can change.” To this, we say that no one has a crystal ball. But our money is on Trump.



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Oliver Cromwell’s 1653 speech to the Rump Parliament comes to mind. Would that he address the GOP-E in that manner after he wins the Presidency. The third and seventh paragraphs are especially fitting.

“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice.

Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government.

Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess?

Ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices?

Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. You were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance.

Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do.

I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place.

Go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

In the name of God, go!”

Posted by oatka01 | Report as abusive

Awesome article! This is the first time in my 50 yr old life that I’ve actually seen ‘antidisestablishmentarian’ used in a sentence. You made me day.

Posted by kbtbc | Report as abusive

So in other words…. Democrats have a 90% chance of filling Obama’s seat with who ever they want.

Well done, republicans. hahaha.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

Go Trump Go, finally a nonploitical person, maybe the middle class will get some life back in them.

Posted by cheeze | Report as abusive

Yes! Go, trump, go! Your nomination secures the White House for 8 more years to a Democrat. Which is good, because I think Obama did a good job repairing the Bush mess.

Go, trump, go!

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

Love the charts and the analysis, but let’s go for the golden ring! What the professor and pollster lack is creativity. Assume the voters decide to challenge the media coverage and the leading candidate. If everyone else decided to and was able to stay in the race (i.e. Kasich, Cruz, Rubio, Carson) until the convention, then Trump could be kept under the 50% required delegates. That would result in a brokered convention where all five candidates would have to pick a winner among themselves who would carry forward the favorite policies of each platform (i.e. Trump – leadership and trade agreements; Cruz – Constitution and Growth and Sovereign Borders; Kasich – Debt Management and Growth and Administration; Rubio – National Security and Growth and Education; Carson – Ethics, Security, and Administrative Know-how.

Posted by hometown | Report as abusive

Trump is averaging conservatively 65% in the major polls 2/26/2016 post debate.

“Prediction model” with historical accuracy rating of 96.1% predicts that Donald Trump will CRUSH Hillary Clinton.

Donald J. Trump 2016

*No establishment donors, no “political correctness”, no rapefugee’s.

Posted by gabrielalanking | Report as abusive

Why so much analysis? Trump says what dumb people want to hear. The end.

Posted by Calvin2k | Report as abusive

Enough of the corrupt system. Trump/Kasich 2016.

Posted by cpk-me | Report as abusive

“Donald Trump has 90-percent chance of winning GOP nomination”

And zero chance of winning the White House.

Posted by Whipsplash | Report as abusive

= GOP has 90% chance of losing White House for 8 more years.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive