This is the seventh Republican primary in the modern era (beginning in 1972) without an incumbent president in the race; here’s the cumulative vote percentage that each eventual nominee received over the course of the primary season in those seven campaigns:
McCain and Romney, though, were far ahead of Trump at this point in the delegate race. All the eventual nominees studied here won a majority of the delegates allotted1 by this date. Trump remains short of a majority.
Trump isn’t so lucky. Ted Cruz is almost certainly going to fight hard all the way to the last primaries on June 7 and beyond. (John Kasich might, too.) Unlike Santorum, who ran out of money after losing Wisconsin in 2012, Cruz is flush with cash. That doesn’t necessarily mean Trump won’t end up with a higher share of support overall than he has won in primaries so far. He should add to his total in the New York primary later this month, for example. But after New York, the calendar becomes considerably tougher for him.
Unless something radically changes, Trump will finish the primary season with the lowest percentage of the primary vote and the lowest share of delegates of any Republican presidential primary vote leader since caucuses and primaries became the main method for selecting nominees.
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