Is The Indiana Primary Winner Take All? The Delegate Allocation Could Make Or Break Donald Trump

People cast their ballots in a polling station during the presidential primary election on April 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Five US states began voting Tuesday at a critical juncture in the presidential race, with Hillary Clinton seeking a knockout against Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump confident of extending his lead despite rivals joining forces against him. / AFP / EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ (Photo credit should read EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images

This is the final stretch of the primary season, but in the GOP race, any outcome is still possible. The nominee could be Donald Trump, or the votes could just as likely lead to a contested convention. One state is pivotal for Trump's path to the nomination. It can pave his way — all because of the way it allocates its delegates. That state is Indiana, where Democratic and Republican primaries will be held this Tuesday. If Trump comes out ahead, he would get all the state's 57 delegates. That's because the Indiana primary is winner-take-all, both the at-large delegates and at the congressional district level.

To be clear, this rule just applies to Republicans. The Democrats, like always, award their delegates proportionally. For that party, here are 83 pledged delegates up for grabs in Indiana. Like many states, they award some of their delegates by congressional district; 56 will be allocated this way. The remaining 27 are split based on the statewide vote. There's a 15 percent threshold at both the district and statewide level — something that shouldn't affect either Clinton or Sanders. They're only four percentage points away from each other. Clinton is slightly ahead.

In the Republican race, though, the winner-take-all rule will have a big impact. It's not as simple as Delaware or other states with one congressional district. The 57 GOP delegates are split up by congressional district. That means Trump — or Cruz — will have to perform well across the state for a clean sweep. In total 27 delegates are split by congressional district — each gets three. Then there are 27 that go to the winner of the state-wide vote, with the remaining three counted as "RNC delegates." Trump is currently ahead by about six points in the polls, but John Kasich supporters may end up voting for Cruz as a part of their alliance to thwart Trump.

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According to Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, this is now "Trump's nomination to lose." If he does well in Indiana, it will be looking good for Trump's camp heading into June. He'll need to continue to win delegates, but not by crazy margins. If he loses, there's a lot more uncertainty around the whole matter, and the race will play out week-to-week until the final GOP primaries, including delegate-rich California, on June 7.

These rules were all put in place to make a Trump-like candidacy difficult and to solidify the nomination earlier in the race. The GOP can't be happy about how that's working out. Cruz's last ditch effort in nominating Carly Fiorina doesn't seem like the answer. You'll just have to wait and see, though. Come Tuesday night, get your delegate tallies out; you'll have quite a bit to mark down.

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