It doesn’t matter how many Republicans get into the presidential race. What matters is how many get out.
A year from today, depending on the final jockeying of state nominating contests, it will be five days after the delegate bonanza on Super Tuesday when 13 states including the two biggest, California (169 delegates) and Texas (162 delegates), cast their ballots.
It will be two days before the March 12 primaries, when Republicans will go past the halfway mark on delegates allocated—1,354 awarded, 1,113 remaining. There will still be eight contests left in the month of March, including the big prizes Florida (125 delegates), Ohio (78 delegates), and Illinois (64 delegates).
But in most scenarios, by March 10, 2024, the race will be, as they say, all over but the shouting. In the 44 years of the modern primary system, no Republican who was ahead after Super Tuesday has ever been denied the nomination. By the time a majority of the delegates have been allocated, the race has always been effectively over. Donald Trump may have had a raggedy run to the finish line in 2016, but he was the frontrunner going into March and came out of it the presumptive nominee.