Donald Trump at a town hall in Derry, NH 0n 8/19/15. Photo credit: Michael Vadon (CC-By-SA 4.0)
Donald Trump at a town hall in Derry, NH 0n 8/19/15.
Photo credit: Michael Vadon (CC-By-SA 4.0)

Five states will hold presidential primaries on Tuesday. Four of the five states will have some form of winner-take-all voting, the first states to do so since South Carolina.

Many in winner-take-all states will vote for who they think can win overall. However, some voters aim to use their vote to ensure Donald Trump ends next Tuesday as far away from being the Republican nominee as possible, regardless of their preference

We’ll take a look at each of the five states ahead and how to best vote strategically to stop Trump.

1.) Florida

This is the big prize with 99 delegates.  Donald Trump leads polls in this state, although some have shown it tightening to within single digits. A win in Florida would be huge for Trump and Rubio is the only one who can stop him there. Numerous arguments have been made that Marco Rubio should drop out before Florida but too many early ballots have been cast to do anything other than hand Donald Trump 99 delegates.

Rubio is right when he warns that in Florida, a vote for either Cruz or Kasich is a vote for Donald Trump.

2.) Illinois

Illinois has a unique primary system. A total of fifteen delegates are pledged to the winner of the Illinois primary and the other fifty-four delegates are elected on a separate ballot.

Illinois has had limited polling.  A Chicago Tribune Poll showed Trump leading Cruz 32-22% with Rubio at 21% and Kasich at 18% and a We Ask America Poll showed Trump up 33-20% with 18% for Kasich and 11% for Rubio. With Rubio not campaigning in the state, the danger becomes that his support will be diffused between Cruz and Kasich as it was in Michigan where the two combined to get nearly 50% of the vote only for Trump to win the state by double digits. At this point, the strategic vote is to vote for Cruz for the at-large delegates.

Some supporters of Kasich and Rubio could be pragmatic with their at-large vote but then proceed to vote for their favored candidate’s district delegates, particularly if they feel they have a chance to win in that district. In Southern Illinois or more conservative areas of the state, that’s not going to make much sense, but as Nate Silver has noted, Rubio has performed well in strongly Democratic districts and there are plenty of those in Illinois in which few Republicans typically vote and where Rubio could win delegates that would otherwise go to Trump. Indeed, I’d suggest it’d make sense for strategic Cruz voters living in such districts to vote for their local Rubio delegates. Winning or not winning nine or ten delegates in Illinois won’t affect whether Rubio continues in this race, as Florida will determine that, but nine or ten delegates not held by Donald Trump lessens his lead.

3) Missouri

Missouri has 52 winner take-all delegates. It has similar demographics to Oklahoma (where Cruz won) and Arkansas (where he narrowly lost.) The only recent poll in Missouri is a Fort Hayes State University poll which showed Trump leading Cruz 36-29% with Rubio at 9% and Kasich at 8%.  The best strategic vote in Missouri is for Ted Cruz.

4) North Carolina

North Carolina is the only proportional state voting, and there’s no threshold, so every candidate will walk away with some of the state’s 72 delegates. Thus shifting a vote from a non-Trump candidate to another won’t impact the number of delegates he wins. So vote for whatever not-Trump you believe will be the best president and do best against the democratic candidate in the Fall.

5) Ohio

Governor John Kasich (R-OH) is in a tight race with at least one recent poll showing him pulling ahead of Donald Trump and the others showing him very close. Whatever the case, like Rubio in Florida, he’s the only candidate who can beat Trump in Ohio, with neither Rubio nor Cruz campaigning in the state.  Rubio Communications Director Alex Courant has affirmed the obvious on Friday, “If you are a Republican primary voter in Ohio and you want to defeat Donald Trump, your best chance in Ohio is John Kasich.”

While Trump has an edge in most states scheduled to vote strategic voters could turn the tide on this critical primary day.

Disclosure: Adam Graham has endorsed Marco Rubio for President.

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