Is Washington A Winner-Take-All State For The GOP?

by Chris Tognotti

There are only a scant few state contests left on the 2016 presidential primary calendar, and doesn't that make you feel just a little sad? After all, after June 14, no more primaries or caucuses for four years! OK, so maybe not — maybe you've had just about enough of the nominating races, and you're ready to set aside the intra-party battles and move on to the real show. Whatever your preference, though, it's not quite over yet, so maybe you're still wondering: is the Washington primary winner-take-all?

That's the Republican Washington primary, to be clear. The Democrats held their contest in Washington back on March 26 (with caucuses, not a primary), and the delegates were awarded proportionally. That's true for every contest on the Democratic side — proportional allocation is the way it's done everywhere, which is just one of the reasons that Vermont senator Bernie Sanders' underdog campaign has stalled out, unable to make up hundreds of delegates worth of lost ground.

Winner-take-all contests are the exclusive domain of the GOP, in other words. And even so, there aren't very many. Only eight states — Florida, Ohio, Arizona, Delaware, Nebraska, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota — use a winner-take-all system, and the Evergreen State is not among them. Tuesday night's primary will use a proportional system, meaning the bigger the win, the higher the yield.


But in the end, that really won't matter. See that smiling Trumpface? That doesn't look like a man who's particularly stressed, does it? The Republican Party botched the early stages of the Trump candidacy, tried to cobble together a fractured opposition far too late, and in early May, they finally caved in, as his last remaining primary rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich dropped out of the running. In other words, the grinning man pictured above is now running unopposed for the GOP nomination, so there's really no scenario in which he won't net the vast majority of Washington's votes, and thus, the vast majority of its delegates.

And he doesn't have too much further to go, either. Heading into Tuesday, Trump is sitting at 1,103 total pledged delegates, just 134 shy of the 1,237 majority he needs to secure the nomination. As recently as this time last month there was still some drama, however remote, about whether he'd reach that number, but now it's basically a settled matter. Even if he did win all of Washington's delegates through an overwhelming victory, that won't put him over the top — the state only has 44 delegates up for grabs.


But just weeks later, on June 7, five primaries (including California, the biggest state in terms of total delegate count) will be going down, three of them winner-take-all, for a combined 303 delegates. That's the day when Trump will have truly clinched the nomination, even though it's essentially a formality now. It'll still be interesting to see how many Republicans cast protest votes against their own presumptive nominee, however — while polls suggest most GOP voters want the party to rally behind Trump, he's nothing if not a divisive figure.