If you are interested in making the 2016 GOP presidential nomination competitive then some of the remaining candidates need to decide if continuing in the race is causing damage to other campaigns instead of helping their own.
Donald Trump is the leading candidate after Super Tuesday following his wins in seven of the eleven states. Ted Cruz won 3 states including the biggest prize, Texas. Trump is winning in most categories of voters. However, he is not winning a majority. His main advantage is that the other candidates are splitting the majority of the votes – especially Cruz and Rubio.
The goal of the campaign is to not to collect the most amount of votes, but to collect the most amount of delegates. This is where Kasich, Carson, and either Cruz or Rubio need to engage in some soul searching. The only way to beat Trump is to narrow the field from 4 to 1. John Kasich and Ben Carson have failed to reach the required threshold of 10-20% of the votes in many states, which siphons delegates from Cruz and Rubio. For example, In Texas Cruz received 43% of the vote and received 91 of the 155 delegates. If he had 50% of the vote then he would have received all 155.
The accumulation of delegates favors candidates with momentum in order to avoid a brokered convention. Here is the current tracking for Trump, Cruz, and Rubio to secure the nomination before the convention. This data is from fivethirtyeight.com.
Trump is ahead schedule while Cruz and Rubio are far behind. Trump will get a big boost from the upcoming elections in California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Without a consolidation of candidates down to one then Trump will be the Republican candidate, after garnering the majority of the delegates before the convention. There is only one option to possibly (not definitely, but to have a hope) stop Trump.
Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, and Carson need to have a private meeting. They need to discuss if everybody is committed to defeating Trump. If they are, then everybody needs to consider their impact on this race. If Kasich wins Michigan and Ohio then he will be energized. Since he will not win the nomination then his delegates will be reallocated. Carson has not and probably will not win a state. His continuation of splitting the votes is ultimately supporting Trump. (Update – Dr. Carson announced the end of his campaign while I was crafting this article. On 15 March after losing his home state, Florida, Rubio suspended his campaign with 166 delegates. Rubio encouraged his voters to support Cruz in future elections)
Once Carson and Kasich suspend their campaigns, then we are left with Cruz and Rubio. Both are strong-willed and determined but need to decide on who will step down. They could pick a date and decide the one with the fewer delegates will be the vice presidential running mate. They are diluting the votes which facilitate Trump victories. The voters need to narrow their choices to Trump or the conservative/establishment candidate. Trump or no Trump. This would be a tough conversation, but the alternative is to concede the election to Trump.
The candidates need to take the delegate math seriously and consider the consequences of their decision. To continue on will result in GOP nominee, Donald Trump.
Note- A brokered convention does not bode well. Whoever is leading going into the convention, but does not get the nomination, could decide to launch a third party candidacy (Trump?). I wrote about this scenario before.