Theoretically, the vicious, comedic, and often embarrassing Republican presidential nomination contest could come to an end on March 15 if Donald Trump wins the Ohio and Florida winner-take-all primaries. (At this writing, RCP poll averages have him ahead in both.)
A Trump victory in these two mega-swing states means that he will be virtually unstoppable in his quest to win the nomination. That is when the tongues of the chattering class will be wagging with non-spot speculation about the key question of the 2016 race: Can Donald Trump win 270 Electoral College votes? And, if not Trump, then which of the remaining candidates can reach that magic number?
However, before we discuss the answers to those questions, a history lesson is instructive.
In November, 2014, shortly after the triumphant midterm election when Republicans were giddy after winning control of Capitol Hill, I wrote a “reality check” piece headlined, “Breaking the Blue Barrier.” The “barrier” is the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House as illustrated by my simple equation:
“1992 + 1988 + Florida = 270 and a Democrat in the White House.”
Briefly, here is the equation decoded. The first number, 1992, represents ten states with a total of 152 electoral votes won by every Democratic presidential nominee since 1992.
The second number, 1988 represents nine states with a total of 90 electoral votes won by every Democratic presidential nominee since 1988.
Together the 1992 and 1988 states total 242 electoral votes, only 28 votes shy of the 270 needed to win the presidency. The “+ Florida” part of the equation, are the Sunshine State’s 29 electoral votes, adding up to one vote over 270. (Obviously, the correct addition is 1992 + 1988 + Florida = 271, but reaching 270 is all that matters.)