And then there were three.
With Sen. Marco Rubio out of the race, the battle for the Republican nomination is down to just three candidates. Here’s the latest delegate math, and what each of the each contender would need to win the nomination.
Donald Trump’s path
Front-runner Donald Trump won 194 delegates on Tuesday, and he now has more than half the delegates needed to win the nomination. But it wasn’t a clean sweep. After being denied Ohio’s big pot of winner-take-all delegates by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Trump will need to win 55 percent of all delegates going forward.
It’s doable, but it’s a high bar for the Republican candidate. He declined to answer a single question from reporters on Tuesday night, but told Morning Joe on Wednesday that he’s ready to start making peace with the Republican establishment ahead of securing the party’s nomination.
That’s not to say he’ll be playing nice: He told Fox News on Wednesday morning he’s busy on Monday night and won’t be at the network’s GOP debate, signaling that the candidate may want to compete on his own terms and turf going forward. After another rival said he wouldn’t debate without Trump, the debate was cancelled, the Republican National Convention confirmed to NBC News.
Ted Cruz’s path
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won 32 delegates on Tuesday, but he failed to win any states outright. His total delegate count stands at 408. Cruz must win 80 percent of all remaining delegates to reach the magic number of 1,237 delegates – an extremely high bar for the candidate that would require him to win Arizona and New Jersey, snag generous allocations in nearly every other state and pull a large number of Rubio’s now-unbound delegates, too.
“It’s very difficult for us to get to 1,237. We get that. But we can get that. We plan on getting there,” chief strategist Jason Johnson told NBC News following Cruz’s primary night remarks. “The unbound delegates become incredibly more important.”
The campaign insists he’s got a path, but it’s increasingly a narrow one – particularly with Kasich still in the race pulling votes and delegates that might go to Cruz in his absence.
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Johnson called Kasich a “spoiler in the race” and said he had “no chance of becoming the nominee.”
While the campaign insists they can get the nomination without a contested convention, they’re nonetheless preparing for one. They have “invested the resources that we need to invest in the delegate process making sure that we not only understand the rules but that we have the volunteers and paid staff needed as we’re screening delegates.”
John Kasich’s path
Ohio Gov. John Kasich won 75 delegates on Tuesday, but he would need to win 106 percent of all the remaining delegates to win the nomination before the convention. His candidacy depends on a contested convention that favors an established, well-liked and positive candidate pulling delegates away from other candidates in the final hours.
His win in Ohio will deny any candidate from reaching that key majority of delegates, his campaign said on Tuesday night; as such, chief strategist John Weaver said Tuesday, his win is “resetting the race.”
“With the electoral map shifting significantly in our favor, Gov. Kasich is positioned to accumulate a large share of the almost 1,000 remaining delegates and enter Cleveland in strong position to become the nominee,” the campaign’s chief strategist John Weaver said in a memo, pivoting to the general election. “Of the 3 remaining viable candidates, only Gov. Kasich will defeat Hillary Clinton in an Electoral College landslide, sweeping in Republicans from the courthouse to the Senate. The other candidates would lose to Hillary Clinton in dramatic fashion and cost us seats in down-ballot races from California to Maine.”
Additional reporting by Kailani Koenig and Vaughn Hillyard.