Trump win big but likely not enough

Donald Trump's New York primary speech
Donald Trump's New York primary speech


    Donald Trump's New York primary speech


Donald Trump's New York primary speech 06:47

Story highlights

  • Donald Trump won the Republican primary contest in New York on Tuesday
  • But despite a clear margin of victory, it probably won't be enough to avoid convention fight, Buck Sexton says

Buck Sexton is a political commentator for CNN and host of "The Buck Sexton Show" on TheBlaze. He was previously a CIA counterterrorism analyst. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN)Donald Trump trounced his Republican competitors in New York's primary on Tuesday night as all major polls, pundits and common sense said he would. As a hometown product with almost universal name recognition in New York City -- the state's real political center of gravity (it helps to have buildings emblazoned with "Trump" across town) -- Trump was going to take New York, and everyone knew it.

He has now solidified his most important victory since Florida, when he single-handedly annihilated Sen. Marco Rubio's presidential campaign and added a robust 99 delegates to his tally. His staff, and the voters who turned out on his behalf, are no doubt celebrating a critical victory in the Empire State.
But despite a clear margin of victory and impressive delegate haul, here's what Trump supporters don't want to hear right now: it probably won't be enough. If the ultimate goal is getting to 1,237 before the Republican convention in July, Trump is still likely to come up short of the number he will need to avoid a floor fight in Cleveland.
Buck Sexton
    The delegate math tells the tale. Before the New York primary, Trump needed just shy of 60% of the remaining delegates left on the table. Winning New York State with well over 50% of the vote on its own is impressive, and the final delegate count for Trump on Tuesday will be sizable. But he's still a long way from the finish line.
    Even with his New York blowout, to get to 1,237, Trump will need to run the table in Pennsylvania and winner-take-all states such as New Jersey and Delaware, crush the competition in winner-take-most states such as Indiana and California, and manage some better-than-expected showings in states likely to be Cruz wins, such as Washington and New Mexico.
    This means everything for Trump has to go almost exactly right from here on out, or else he will be fighting it out with Ted Cruz and John Kasich in Cleveland.
    No doubt those in the Trump camp, and his legions of supporters across the country, would cry foul at this assessment.
    Pundits and pollsters alike will say anything to stand in Trump's way, or so the story goes, and this is just another case of downplaying his candidacy. Trump's wins are never good enough for the media, his defenders say. And there are also the other constant pro-Trump themes that get trotted out: the establishment is out to get Trump, Cruz is cheating with his "voter-less" elections and Kasich is just playing spoiler to box out "The Donald."
    Yet whether these allegations are fair or not doesn't change the reality that despite Tuesday's Trump win, a contested GOP convention is still all but inevitable, because to get to the magic delegate number, Trump will not only have to rack up resounding victories, including by improving his ground game, but he will need to learn to maneuver within the Republican National Committee rules of the road.
    This is possible, though seems highly improbable.
    All this said, of course, any political prognostication has to contend with the fact that Trump has consistently made a mockery of the conventional wisdom.
    His New York numbers are strong enough that his supporters are likely to argue he would shatter an otherwise ossified political map between red and blue states in the general election. Such a narrative could add to his reinvigorated momentum in the remaining primary contests. But for Trump to avoid an all-out political dogfight at the convention in July, he's going to have to pile up wins that defy all expectations in the weeks ahead.
    But given the GOP primary so far, it's fair to say crazier things have happened.