HUFFPOLLSTER: The GOP Race For Delegates Is A Hot Mess

If Donald Trump doesn’t get a majority of the delegates by June, it’s not likely that anyone else will either.

The delegate math is starting to stack up in Trump’s favor, but he likely wouldn’t get a majority of the delegates until June. Five states and Puerto Rico are voting this weekend, but there’s no polling to indicate what the outcomes might be. And we have empirical evidence that this election is indeed weirder than most. This is HuffPollster for Friday, March 4, 2016.

ODDS FAVOR TRUMP GOING FORWARD - Nate Cohn: "Donald Trump did not amass a majority of delegates on Super Tuesday. But he could soon. If the people in the rest of the nation vote as the Super Tuesday results suggest they would, Mr. Trump would easily amass a majority of delegates and avoid the contested convention that his opponents hope to force and win. He could even do so without wins in Ohio and Florida, the two largest winner-take-all states, where he faces opponents in their home states. Mr. Trump would amass so many delegates because the rules become more biased toward candidates who win….At the same time, the primary calendar doesn’t become less favorable and may even become more advantageous to him, depending on which candidates stay in the race. But the results so far also indicate he could still be defeated, suggesting Mr. Trump is far from winning a majority of the popular vote." [NYT]

Trump's remaining rivals could split the vote - Matthew Yglesias: “To secure a majority of delegates, Rubio would need to win two-thirds of the remaining delegates left, which is totally unrealistic. Kasich is even further behind. Cruz is a bit closer, but he's already won his best state (Texas) and doesn't have a lot of growth opportunity. The only hope the establishment has now is for anti-Trump voters to follow Mitt Romney's suggestion and vote tactically in hopes of denying Trump the nomination. The last best hope, in short, is that the candidates will stop running for president and start running to stop Trump from becoming president.” [Vox]

The Republican race will likely stretch all the way to June - Philip Bump: “As of this moment, the odds are pretty good that June 7 will be the most important day of 2016. On that day, there are 303 delegates at stake in the Republican nomination contest -- nearly one out of every eight delegates that will be allocated overall. More than 100 -- 107, to be exact -- of those delegates will be awarded to the winners of the Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota contests. Another 24 will be given to candidates depending on how they do in voting in New Mexico. And 172 delegates -- itself nearly 7 percent of the total delegates overall -- will be given out in the state of California….It may come down to how, say, Humboldt County, Calif., feels on the morning of June 7.” [WashPost]

OVER 150 DELEGATES AT STAKE THIS WEEKEND FOR EACH PARTY - Five states, plus Puerto Rico, hold primaries or caucuses this weekend. There have been just four polls across all of those states in the past month: three in Louisiana and one in Kentucky. But the limited polling shows the same general patterns we’ve seen in other states. On the Republican side, Donald Trump leads in both Kentucky and Louisiana, while Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) battle it out for second.Among Democrats, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton leads Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. There aren’t enough delegates at stake for either party to dramatically change the outcome of the race, but Democrats will award 156 delegates and Republicans will divvy up 178.

AMERICANS AGREE THAT THIS IS A STRANGE ELECTION - HuffPollster: "Americans may not agree on much about politics right now, but at least we're all equally confused. In a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, 76 percent of Americans, including the overwhelming majority of both parties, said that this election is weirder than past elections. Just 4 percent view 2016 as a paragon of normalcy. Older Americans, with the added benefit of hindsight and historical context, are even more likely to see 2016 as exceptionally strange. Eighty-four percent of those age 65 and older consider this year's election especially weird, while just 71 percent of millennials say the same….In one aspect, though, this election falls short: Just 19 percent of Americans think it's been more focused on the issues than past contests." [HuffPost]

It’s strange how unpopular Trump is, despite being the frontrunner - Nate Silver: "If we woke up one day and found that the daytime sky had permanently turned from blue to orange, we’d eventually get used to it. That wouldn’t make it any less strange, however. So even though the battle between Donald Trump and the Republican 'establishment' has been a story since the summer, we should still pause now and again to gawk at the spectacle….But as spectacular as the clash between Trump and Republican 'party elites' has become, the coverage of it tends to obscure another, perhaps equally important part of the story. Trump does not just divide rank-and-file voters from Republican poo-bahs. He’s also extremely divisive among Republican voters, much more so than a typical front-runner. In exit polls so far, only 49 percent of Republican voters say they would be satisfied with Trump as their nominee — remarkable considering Trump’s lead in votes and delegates." [538]

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FRIDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

Philip Bump thinks Trump could appeal to some Democrats in a general election. [WashPost]

-Harry Enten sees a clear path for Hillary Clinton to win the nomination unless something unexpected happens. [538]

-Republicans could lose the Senate if Donald Trump wins the general election. [Center For Politics]

Marco Rubio's data and targeting operations were no match for Donald Trump's personality. [Bloomberg]

-Democratic turnout is much worse in primary states with new voter ID laws. [HuffPost]

-Thin Mints are, by a thin margin, America's favorite Girl Scout cookie. [SSRS]