Others are beginning to come around to my viewpoint that Trump does not need to secure 1,237 delegates heading into the convention.

My math has Trump securing the nomination with 1,224 but the real number is far less than that.

Although I agree with the widespread analysis that Trump needs to win on the first ballot or he does not win at all, I strongly disagree with the assumption Trump needs to go to the convention with 1,237 in hand to win.

Tonight Politico reports the “GOP elite whisper about a lower threshold for the front-runner to clinch the nomination.”

Please consider Trump’s real magic number is less than 1,237.

Even before Donald Trump’s big win in New York on Tuesday, the conversations among party officials and high-level operatives about a contested Republican convention were already shifting dramatically.

The magic number of delegates for Trump to clinch the nomination on the first ballot, likely to be his best and perhaps only chance to do so, remains 1,237. But there are now whispers that the real number of delegates Trump must win by June 7, when the final contests take place, might be lower.

“The closer he gets to 1,237, even if he doesn’t get all the way there by the final primaries, the more likely he cobbles it together,” said one Republican National Committee member attending the quarterly party meetings in Florida, where sideline conversations are focused on this subject. “There are plenty of delegates that are unbound on first ballot, you’ve just got to go find them.”

When the convention opens in Cleveland in mid-July, roughly 200 delegates will arrive as free agents, unbound by the results of primaries or caucuses in their states. Trump’s campaign is confident they can win as many of them as they must in order to get to 1,237 on the first ballot.

“I think a lot of people think if he gets within 50 to 100 [of 1,237], he’ll be able to carry it,” said Steve House, Colorado’s GOP chairman and an unbound delegate already being courted by the Trump and Cruz campaigns.

“If he’s close after June 7, there’ll be a compelling reason for folks to say he’s won the most delegates by a lot and he’s won the most voters by a ton,” said Ron Kaufman, an RNC member from Massachusetts who is close to Mitt Romney and supported Jeb Bush earlier this year.

Kaufman believes this is the likeliest resolution to the GOP’s dramatic primary — and a perfectly acceptable one at that. “In the end, we want to make sure all those millions of people who voted in a Republican primary understand their votes were worthwhile. You just can’t kick all those voters — more than have ever voted in our primary before — to the curb. We want to make sure they’re with us in November.”

Mish Path

silver vs. Mish4

Notice that I have Trump 13 short. However, let’s review my April l4 analysis Trump’s Odds of Winning Way Better than Nate Silver Believes.

“Pennsylvania has 71 delegates but only 17 of them are bound. That leaves a whopping 54 unbound. That does not change my state total assignment of 17. But it does highlight the overall pessimism in my award of a mere 15 out of 125 uncommitted delegates to Trump. If Trump wins Pennsylvania, especially by a large margin, he can easily pick up 27 uncommitteds in that state alone.”

Note that  slightly more than half of Pennsylvania’s unbound delegates said they’d support the candidate who wins the popular vote statewide or in their districts, according to a survey conducted by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Trump is going to win Pennsylvania easily. Thus, my Trump roadmap was extremely conservative.

If Trump wins Indiana, this race is over barring a rules change at the convention.

Real Magic Number

What’s the “real” magic number?

I don’t know, nor does anyone else. Here’s what I do know: The more presidential Trump sounds between now and the convention, the lower the magic number.

The number isn’t fixed, but let’s place some markers.

  • 100 short? Doubtful
  • 50 short? Maybe
  • 30 short? Very likely
  • 15 short ? Near certainty

I suspect the “real” magic number at the moment is somewhere around 40 less than most think. Let’s call it 37 to make things a nice round number.

If Trump heads into the convention with 1,200 delegates or more, he is the odds on favorite to win on the first ballot.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock