Trump was good last night, not great, but good enough to win the debate. To win the Republican nomination he needs 1,237 delegates. Trump will have a total of around 85 with the Nevada allocation. The Golden Four states of California, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey hold 389 delegates. Since 1980, the Republican front-runner has swept the Golden Four to win the nomination. Voting takes place later in the season for the Golden Four (CA-June 6/NY-April 19/PA-April 26/NJ-June 7). If history holds true, then Trump’s magic number to hit, prior to the Golden Four contests, is 848 delegates. The Hill explains how he can do it here:
If he maintains this momentum throughout the first two weeks of March, he will have more delegates than any candidate could feasibly match going into the golden four states, guaranteeing him that frontrunner status that turns out late primary voters and transforms candidates into nominees.
The first two weeks of March present the ultimate test for any campaign, with 27 nominating contests and 1,309 possible delegates. An evaluation of recent polls, state demographics, and regional indicators, reveals that Trump is positioned to take 672 of those delegates with wins in 13 of the 27 states (Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Massachusetts, Vermont, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina). In six further states (Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, Kansas, Kentucky, and Ohio) Trump retains slimmer polling advantages, marking these as “likely Trump” states, and providing him with a prospective 302 additional delegates. In five further states and territories (Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Idaho, Washington DC, and the Northern Mariana Islands) lack of up-to-date information makes accurately predicting the outcomes impossible, leaving those 102 delegates effectively up for grabs. The remaining three states (Arkansas, Texas, and Minnesota) are divided between the rest of the pack, with Cruz polling in front in Texas and Arkansas, and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) narrowly edging Trump out in Minnesota.
However, as evidenced by the Iowa caucus, minor Trump leads in polls can still result in election night victories for his opponents, as the organizational capabilities of Trump’s campaign are some of the weakest in the field. Yet of the six “likely Trump” states and five states without sufficient information, Trump only needs a combined 81 delegates of the 405 in play. In this scenario, Trump only needs to win two states between Virginia, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, all of which he holds comfortable polling leads in.
When prognosticating any number of scenarios, it seems that every possible outcome points to Trump. All indicators suggest that Trump will likely well surpass the 850 delegate benchmark within the next three weeks, setting up a straightforward conclusion to the race. With this comfortable of a lead, Trump is poised for victories in the golden four states, giving him enough delegates to clinch the nomination. At some point we have to accept that no other candidate can reach the number of delegates that Trump has obtained. Gov. John Kasich (Ohio) and Rubio can celebrate second place finishes in New Hampshire and South Carolina respectively, while Trump takes his delegates and runs- all the way to the Republican nomination.
David Wasserman of the acclaimed Cook Political Report explains the power of Blue State Republicans here: