The unpredictability of the Texas Republican Primary

Super Tuesday is mere days away. Although it’s becoming increasingly clear that the nomination is Donald Trump’s, there’s always that remote possibility he won’t pull it off. Until the nomination is officially locked up, a number of storylines will still exist.

Super Tuesday itself appears to be a lock for Trump. In my recent article about the endorsements of Governors Chris Christie and Paul LePage, I noted the list of states Trump is currently leading.

They are, as of yesterday, as follows:

Super Tuesday is coming up in a few days. Trump is leading for Alabama’s 50 delegates, Georgia’s 76 delegates, Massachusetts’ 42 delegates, Oklahoma’s 43 delegates, Vermont’s 16 delegates, and Virginia’s 49 delegates.

New polls out Sunday have added to this. Trump is now leading for Tennessee’s 58 delegates, while continuing to lead Georgia and Virginia.

What remains is Texas, which has 155 delegates up for grabs. The polling is inconsistent and all over the place here.

Monmouth polls a 15 point lead for Senator Ted Cruz over Trump, who only has second place secured over Senator Marco Rubio by two points. Similarly, the University of Houston polls a 15 point lead for Senator Cruz over Trump, who is in this poll comfortably in second.

Emerson polls a very different picture, giving Senator Cruz only a one point lead over Trump, with Senator Rubio three points behind. Similarly, TEGNA/SurveyUSA polls a tie between Senator Cruz and Trump, while Senator Rubio is far back in third.

What’s interesting is what Politico noted regarding how these polls were conducted:

There’s a key methodological difference: A number of the polls showing Cruz leading, like the Monmouth and Houston surveys, were conducted by calling voters who have participated in previous primaries (or voters who have registered since the last primary).

That’s a tighter screen than other polls, like ones from the student-run group at Emerson College or SurveyUSA, which dial random phone numbers to reach self-identified voters and showed Trump roughly tied with Cruz.

That’s a fairly big difference. The reason this is significant is because this race has seen a great deal of turnout from new voters.

Iowa exit polls conducted by CBSNews showed that 45% of those who turned out had never attended a caucus before. The majority of these voters went to Trump.

As far as the 54% of returning Iowa voters go, they overwhelmingly went to Senator Cruz.

Senator Cruz won the existing turnout, whereas Trump is drawing in new voters. It is correct to point out Senator Cruz won Iowa, but a lot has changed since this point.

Senator Cruz won Iowa with 27.6% in a crowded race, but has failed to secure that much of the vote since. He has placed in third in every contest since, with 11.7% in New Hampshire, 22.3% in South Carolina, and 21.4% in Nevada.

With 24.3%, Trump came in second in Iowa with a crowded race, but has only grown his numbers since the race diminished. He jumped significantly to win New Hampshire with 35.3% and won South Carolina with a slightly lower 32.5%. Nevada was huge though, as he won it with an enormous jump to 45.9%.

Statistically, the numbers are on Trump’s side. Senator Cruz might have held his home state had the primary been held the day after Iowa with a full blown party of candidates on the stage. But the race isn’t like that anymore and as the evidence shows, Trump has benefited more from the smaller field than Senator Cruz.

Going into Super Tuesday, it’s clear Trump is going to win huge. But Texas could be massive for him, if he pulls it off. If Trump does win Texas on top of most of the day, the nomination is his. The paths for everyone else lead back home.

Chris Dixon

About Chris Dixon

Chris Dixon is a libertarian-leaning writer and managing editor for The Liberty Conservative. In addition to his political writing, he also covers baseball for Cleat Geeks and enjoys writing on a number of other topics ranging on Medium.