Much to the dismay of some Republicans, the party’s primary process is working just as intended. Designed to choose a nominee quickly, this year’s rules have advanced that air of inevitability forming around Donald Trump, who has won 15 of the first 24 contests.

[Trump wins Mississippi, Michigan primaries]

More votes means even more delegates

Top-performing candidates get more delegates than their vote totals might suggest. Trump won about 35 percent of all the votes cast through March 8 but earned 43 percent of the delegates available in those contests. Ted Cruz, who won six states in that time period, also benefited a bit from rules that help the leading candidates.

PORTION OF ALL VOTES

Trump

Cruz

Rubio

Kasich

34.4%

28.6%

21.2%

6.8%

43.3%

33.9%

16.9%

4.1

PORTION OF ALL DELEGATES

Note: Percentages may not add to 100 percent

because of rounding.

PORTION OF ALL VOTES

Trump

Cruz

Rubio

Kasich

OTHERS

34.4%

28.6%

21.2%

6.8%

9.0%

43.3%

33.9%

16.9%

4.1

1.7%

PORTION OF ALL DELEGATES

Note: Percentages may not add to 100 percent because of rounding.

This delegate boost will grow come March 15, when most states have rules that favor the front-runner.

[As Trump rolls again, opposition has one week to stop him]

Leaving it up to the states

The Republican National Committee gives states and their parties leeway to decide their process within some boundaries, resulting in a patchwork of rules.

Winner-take-all

Winner-take-more

Proportional with winner-take-all chance

Proportional

Convention

ME

WI

VT

NH

WA

ID

MT

ND

MN

IL

MI

NY

MA

OR

NV

WY

SD

IA

IN

OH

PA

NJ

CT

RI

CA

UT

CO

NE

MO

KY

WV

VA

MD

DE

AZ

NM

KS

AR

TN

NC

SC

DC

OK

LA

MS

AL

GA

HI

AK

TX

FL

Convention

Winner-

take-all

Winner-

take-more

Proportional

with winner-

take-all chance

Proportional

ME

WI

VT

NH

WA

ID

MT

ND

MN

IL

MI

NY

MA

OR

NV

WY

SD

IA

IN

OH

PA

NJ

CT

RI

CA

UT

CO

NE

MO

KY

WV

VA

MD

DE

AZ

NM

KS

AR

TN

NC

SC

DC

OK

LA

MS

AL

GA

HI

AK

TX

FL

MT

SD

OH

NJ

NE

DE

AZ

FL

WINNER-TAKE-ALL

The quickest way to earn a lot of delegates. A winning candidate in the statewide vote gets all of the state’s delegates, even if he has earned less than 50 percent of the vote.

WI

IL

IN

PA

CT

CA

MO

WV

MD

SC

WINNER-TAKE-MORE

These states reward winners heavily.

In some, the winner in each congressional district earns all three

of that district’s delegates. In South Carolina, Trump won statewide delegates and every district, turning

it into a winner-take-all state.

ME

VT

ID

MI

NY

UT

AR

TN

OK

AL

GA

TX

PROPORTIONAL WITH A WINNER-TAKE-ALL TRIGGER

These states distribute delegates more proportionally, but candidates can walk away with many delegates if they earn over a set threshold.

NH

WA

MN

MA

OR

NV

IA

RI

KY

VA

NM

KS

NC

DC

LA

MS

HI

AK

PROPORTIONAL

Proportional states give out their

delegates roughly based on the percentage of the vote. Often at district level, two delegates are awarded to the winner and one to the second-place finisher, shutting out someone in a close third.

ND

WY

CO

CONVENTION

State party conventions will decide

who to support in a few states.

WINNER-TAKE-ALL

MT

The quickest way to earn a lot of delegates. A winning candidate in the statewide vote gets all of the state’s delegates, even if he has earned less than 50 percent of the vote.

SD

OH

NJ

NE

DE

AZ

FL

WINNER-TAKE-MORE

WI

These states reward winners heavily.

In some, the winner in each congressional district earns all three

of that district’s delegates. In South Carolina, Trump won statewide delegates and every district, turning

it into a winner-take-all state.

IL

IN

PA

CT

CA

MO

WV

MD

SC

ME

VT

PROPORTIONAL WITH A WINNER-TAKE-ALL TRIGGER

ID

MI

NY

These states distribute delegates more proportionally, but candidates can walk away with many delegates if they earn over a set threshold.

UT

AR

TN

OK

AL

GA

TX

PROPORTIONAL

NH

Proportional states give out their

delegates roughly based on the percentage of the vote. Often at district level, two delegates are awarded to the winner and one to the second-place finisher, shutting out someone in a close third.

WA

MN

MA

OR

IA

RI

NV

KY

VA

NM

KS

NC

DC

LA

MS

HI

AK

CONVENTION

ND

State party conventions will decide

who to support in a few states.

WY

CO

How many delegates are available in each type

Only one-quarter of the delegates are given out in strictly proportional states. Another quarter come from proportional states that become winner-take-all if a candidate crosses a certain threshold, which varies by state.

391

Winner-take-all

Winner-take-more

613

Proportional, with a chance

to be winner-take-all

710

Proportional

637

Other

121

Proportional,

with a chance to be

winner-take-all

Winner-

take-all

Winner-

take-more

Proportional

Other

637

391

613

710

121

How the schedule has changed

In the last several cycles, many states had moved their contests earlier, forcing the primary calendar into January as they jockeyed for influential first-state status. This made for a long primary season. Trying to reverse this trend, the RNC established penalties in 2012, but some states, including Florida, moved their contests up anyway.

Circles are sized based on the number of contests per day. TapHover for a state-by-state breakdown.
MS
OK
DE
MN
IL
AR
NM
IN
MD
LA
ID
WY
TN
AZ
IA
MI
KS
UT
VA
OR
CT
MT
CA
MA
WV
SC
NH
WI
VT
GA
ND
PA
FL
AK
KY
HI
NE
MO
OH
AL
NY
SD
CO
NJ
NC
DC
TX
NV
ME
RI

This year’s delegate penalties are much more strict. The party banned January contests and allowed only four states to vote in February. It also moved the last primary earlier, shortening the cycle so a nominee would more quickly emerge from the field and be better positioned for the general election.

The party also halved the time frame in which states are required to distribute delegates proportionally, which spans March 1 to 14 this year, compared with all of March in 2012.

For this reason, contests from March 15 on become far more consequential, and far more favorable to the front-runner. Trump can lock up the nomination by winning these.

Winner-take-all

Winner-take-more

Proportional with winner-take-all chance

Proportional

FEB.

Super

Tuesday

Proportionality

period

MARCH

March 15

APRIL

MAY

JUNE

Note: States holding conventions and the

District of Columbia are omitted from this chart.

Winner-take-all

Winner-take-more

Proportional with winner-take-all chance

Proportional

BEFORE MARCH 14

AFTER MARCH 14

600 delegates

Super

Tuesday

400

March 15

OH

200

FL

0

FEB.

MARCH

APRIL

MAY

JUNE

Proportionality

period

Note: States holding conventions and the District of Columbia are omitted from this chart.

Winner-take-all

Winner-take-more

Proportional with winner-take-all chance

Proportional

BEFORE MARCH 14

AFTER MARCH 14

600 delegates

VA

VT

Super

Tuesday

TX

400

TN

OH

March 15

OK

SD

NM

IL

MN

NJ

MA

200

MO

MT

GA

ME

NC

HI

LA

CT

AR

RI

CA

ID

UT

AK

PA

KY

WV

FL

NY

DE

MI

AZ

IN

AL

SC

WI

WA

KS

NE

MD

OR

IA

NH

NV

MS

0

FEB.

MARCH

APRIL

MAY

JUNE

Proportionality

period

Note: States holding conventions and the District of Columbia are omitted from this chart.

While Trump stands to benefit from these state rules, they could end up being his undoing. His opponents are looking to the delegate-rich winner-take-all states such as Florida and Ohio to quickly close Trump’s lead. While unlikely, if someone can seize the front-runner status from Trump, the rules would work in their favor instead.

[Tracking the race to the Republican nomination]