At this point, Republican primaries seem more ceremonial than anything else. With only one candidate still actively campaigning for the nomination, the race is all but over. Although he still hasn't officially won enough delegates to secure the GOP's nomination, Donald Trump won at least 27 delegates in Washington on Tuesday, propelling him even closer to the magic number and the top spot on his party's ticket.
Trump has held a comfortable lead for much of this year's primary season, but the race remained competitive until Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich suspended their campaigns at the beginning of May. By the time the May 24 GOP primary in Washington rolled around, Trump had more than 1,100 pledged delegates in his court, but he was still more than 100 delegates short of the nomination. With 44 delegates to add to the mix, Washington had the potential to move the needle significantly in Trump's favor. With less than 70 percent of the vote in, Trump had clearly won the state by a wide margin, as the contest was called in Trump's favor just 10 minutes after polls closed.
As the only candidate still in the race, it's no surprise that Trump won Washington and took this sizable number of delegates with him.
Still, it was entirely possible for Cruz or Kasich to win delegates there, thanks to the state's complex allocation process. With 44 pledged delegates to offer, Washington allocated 14 at-large delegates based on the statewide vote; candidates who receive at least 20 percent of the state's vote overall divide those 14 delegates up proportionally among them. The remaining 30 delegates are allocated on a more local level, based on candidates' performances in each of Washington's 10 congressional districts.
As the vote rolled in on Tuesday night, Trump had clearly won over Washington's Republicans. However, he may have a much more difficult time winning over the state as a whole come the general election this fall. The state of Washington leans Democratic, even at a time when more states seem to lean the opposite way, according to 2015 research from Gallup.
In fact, Washington is one of the least conservative states in the country, which makes sense when you consider that Washington was among the first to allow recreational use of marijuana. Given the economy, ISIS, and other newsworthy issues, a stance on marijuana probably won't make or break any candidate's campaign, but an entire platform built on a conservative ideology could hurt Trump in the general election.
Then again, maybe that's looking too far ahead. Trump added to his delegate count in Washington, but he won't be (officially) campaigning for the general election vote until after the GOP's nominating convention in Cleveland in July. For now, he'll hope to, and undoubtedly will, pick up the remaining delegates he needs in the next Republican primaries on June 7 in California, New Jersey, and elsewhere.