Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Donald Trump's Odds for First-Ballot Victory Improve After New York Primary (VIDEO)

At the Los Angeles Times, "Trump celebrates Republican primary victory in New York, still railing against system":

Donald Trump roared to a huge victory Tuesday in New York's Republican primary, delivering a much-needed chance to reset his presidential campaign and retake the upper hand in the fight for the GOP nomination.

There had been little doubt Trump would carry his home state, where the real estate mogul is literally a household name: In giant letters and various forms, “Trump” adorns some of Manhattan's most exclusive properties.

The outcome was clear the instant that polls closed, with the front-runner leaping to an enormous lead that never wavered. With nearly all of the votes counted, Trump had 60% support, followed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 25% and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with 15.

The key question was the size of Trump's victory and whether he would capture all of the delegates by winning 50% of the statewide vote and a majority in each of New York's 27 congressional districts. It appeared he would claim at least the overwhelmingly majority of the state's 95 delegates, with Kasich taking a handful.

The allocation was more than a matter of vanity or political perceptions. The GOP contest has become a hand-to-hand battle for delegates to the party's July convention in Cleveland, where they alone will choose the nominee to carry the party standard into the fall campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

It takes a majority, 1,237 delegates, to be assured of the nomination before the GOP gathering, which appears to be Trump's best hope as opponents work to stop him short and throw the convention open to one or another of his rivals.

Trump entered the day with 756 delegates, followed by Cruz with 559 and Kasich with 144. Trump's substantial gain eases his quest for the nomination but still leaves the outcome far from certain.

“The path forward is a high wire,” said Bill Whalen, a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and speechwriter for former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson of California. “It is manageable, but there is no room for error on either side.”

Trump was blown out by Cruz in the last GOP contest, the April 5 primary in Wisconsin, and has been steadily losing ground to the senator's better-organized campaign ever since, as Republicans seat their national delegates at state- and district-level conventions across the country.

Still, of the three candidates remaining, Trump is the only one with a realistic chance of winning the nomination on the first ballot in Cleveland.

In an effort to steady his campaign, Trump recently shook up its staff, bringing in some of the very Washington establishment figures he once criticized. Amid the upheaval, his campaign field director, a political neophyte, resigned as Trump sought to professionalize his delegate wrangling under Paul J. Manafort, a former lobbyist and longtime Beltway insider, who quickly moved to consolidate and extend his power.

In one sign of Manafort's apparent influence, Trump has grown uncharacteristically restrained in his public comments, in a seeming effort to project a more presidential image. His victory speech Tuesday night was notably brief and absent the insults and braggadocio that characterized previous celebrations...