As a follow-up to this question, Ted Cruz keeps claiming that it is "mathematically impossible" for John Kasich to earn an uncontested nomination. Steven Colbert claimed that he would need 116% of the remaining delegates.

Since some votes and locked and some are not, if Rubio and Bush endorsed Kasich and the 6 uncommitted delegates from Wyoming and Louisiana went to Kasich, would it really be mathematically impossible to win the nomination uncontested?

What percentage of the remaining delegates would be needed in that scenario? And what if Cruz also dropped out or became the VP running-mate for Kasich and he and Fiorina endorsed Kasich?

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    Mathematically impossible uncontested nomination, after the first vote Kasich could get the nomination.
    – user1873
    Commented Mar 17, 2016 at 21:53

2 Answers 2


Rubio and Bush cannot generally donate their delegates to Kasich. There may be some state that allows that, but the more common way is for the delegates to become unbound. There are currently 330 unbound delegates according to Politico (the 178 then plus 152 more from Rubio dropping out). Kasich has 145 delegates. That would give a combined total of 475 delegates. So Kasich needs 762 more delegates and Colbert's numbers suggest that there are 941 left.

It remains an exaggeration to say that it is mathematically impossible for Kasich to win the nomination on the first ballot. However, it would still be ridiculously difficult. He'd have to win all the unbound delegates and more than 80% of the unallocated delegates from future elections. So he'd have to win all the winner-take-all and winner-take-most states.

Of course, it is also very difficult for Cruz to win enough delegates for a first ballot majority. Even Trump is back to being short of target (he needed to win Ohio). And neither of them have Kasich's advantages with the unbound delegates.

  • The statement that Trump is "short of target" is assuming a certain model. I assume you are using FiveThirthyEight's questionable model in making this claim. Personally I do not find the model convincing. Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 18:47
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    It's also the current position of Cook. Another way of looking at it is that Trump needs to win 54% of the remaining delegates. That of course is not only more than he has been winning, it's more than he needed to win at the beginning (50% plus one). Unless Trump does better in the future than he has in the past, he will fall short.
    – Brythan
    Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 0:06
  • There were previously many more candidates in the race. It's naive to assume that his number will not go up as the field has dwindled to 3 and the pressure to unify increases - recent polling suggests that his numbers have risen. I don't know what will happen, but it's important to qualify your statements with the exact model assumptions. Also, don't forget the delegates going forward are not awarded proportionally. There are mostly WTA and WTM states. Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 20:15
  • @Lepidopterist - The changes in the race don't affect 538's targets, but it does affect the likelihood of reaching them. Tuesday's votes should give us some new data for calibrating those likelihoods for the three-person race.
    – Bobson
    Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 16:15
  • @Bobson, the targets are based on models that incorporate the likeliest/best path to reaching the nomination. He is under target with respect to a particular model, that was the point. Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 19:12

As of today, Mr. Trump has passed the halfway point in needed delegates.

Sen. Cruz has less than 2/3rds of Trump delegates.

Kasich has about 1/3 the delegates of Cruz.

The majority of the delegates (57%) have already been chosen).

Trump needs to win 52% of the remaining delegates to win outright.

Cruz needs to win 79%. Kasich needs to win 103%

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