Why The New York Primary Is Make Or Break For Donald Trump

New York will hold its primary on Tuesday, and thanks to the excruciating closeness of the Republican race, it could play a determinative role in the nomination for the first time in decades. It was always going to be an important state for Donald Trump to win, but thanks to some developments that unfolded over the weekend, it's looking like New York will be make or break for Donald Trump. If he falls short of a commanding victory, he can probably kiss the Republican nomination goodbye.

On Saturday, state Republican parties in Wyoming, Georgia, Kansas, and elsewhere decided which individuals will serve as delegates to the national convention in July. If the national convention is contested, it'll be these delegates — not voters — who ultimately decide the Republican presidential nominee. Needless to say, all of the campaigns are fighting to get their own loyalists elected to delegate slots, a process that is colloquially referred to as the "shadow primary."

According to POLITICO, Trump was handily defeated in Saturday's shadow primary. In Georgia, there were 42 delegate slots available, and Ted Cruz supporters won 32 of them. Wyoming, which has a unique two-stage delegate selection process, elected 14 people to delegate slots on Saturday, and every single one was a Cruz sympathizer. In Miami-Dade County in Florida, Trump failed to get a single one of his loyalists elected to any of the 15 delegate slots filled on Saturday.

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Trump has been getting obliterated in the shadow primary for quite some time now, and as a result, a whole lot of delegates at the national convention will likely abandon Trump if the convention moves to a second ballot of voting. In other words, it's exceedingly unlikely that Trump will win the nomination if the convention is contested.

That means he really, really, really needs to win 1,237 delegates in the primaries if he wants to be the nominee, and that in turn makes the New York primary even more important than it otherwise would have been. It's worth more delegates than any upcoming primary other than California's, and Trump's delegate math is so close that he absolutely can't afford anything short of a dominating performance in New York on Tuesday.

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That won't necessarily get him out of the woods: Trump could win big in New York and still fall short of the magic number. But if he loses New York — or even fails to win a big enough majority of delegates — he almost certainly won't clinch the nomination before the convention, and as such, won't become the Republican nominee.

The polls show the Donald with a 10-point lead in New York, so he'll probably be just fine. But thanks to his astonishingly terrible performance in the shadow primary, he now can't even afford to take his home state for granted.