Donald Trump dominated another night of primary contests in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, cementing his status as the party’s frontrunner.
Shortly after the polls closed on Tuesday evening, several networks projected that the real-estate mogul was on track to sweep the day’s five primary contests, winning in Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.
Nate Silver of data journalism website FiveThirtyEight noted that Trump’s delegate margins are now large enough that he could “sweep nearly every delegate” awarded Tuesday night.
“Suppose that Trump finishes with 100 of 109 delegates tonight, for instance, not counting any uncommitted delegates in Pennsylvania,” Silver wrote. “That would put him on pace for 1,209 delegates, based on the state-by-state projections that our expert panel issued last month, close enough that he could probably get over the top to 1,237 with uncommitted delegates from Pennsylvania or elsewhere.”
A Republican candidate needs 1,237 delegates to lock down the nomination outright.
Pennsylvania’s delegate-allocation system dictates that 17 of its 71 delegates are bound to the statewide winner. The remaining 54 delegates are elected by voters as “unbound” delegates, free to vote for whomever they want on the first ballot at the July convention.
Considering Trump’s sweep on Tuesday night, these unbound delegates could help push Trump over the edge in the delegate count.
Trump’s big wins Tuesday helped him make up for losses in Wisconsin and Colorado, and put him “in the strongest position he’s been in since March 15,” Silver wrote.
And he blew expectations out of the water:
Trump polling average vs actual results tonight
PA: 47% -> 58%
RI: 56% -> 64%
CT: 53% -> 59%
MD: 50% -> 54%
This after NY went 53% -> 60%.
— Nathaniel Rakich (@baseballot) April 27, 2016
Those margins are notable considering there are still three candidates left in the Republican race.
Trump himself acknowledged the significance of the night, telling a crowd during his victory speech and press conference that he now considers himself the presumptive nominee.
“I think this one is maybe the biggest of them all,” he said, referring to Tuesday’s wins.
It will be very difficult for Trump’s rivals, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, to stop Trump from getting the nomination at this point. It’s impossible for either to reach the 1,237 delegates through state contests, so both Kasich and Cruz are hoping for a contested convention.
If Trump doesn’t win 1,237 delegates, many convention delegates would become “unbound” to Trump in later rounds of convention voting, giving Cruz or Kasich a likely boost in support.