First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Cruz and allies have five days to stop Trump
When Ted Cruz unveiled Carly Fiorina as his running mate on Wednesday, and when he struck that alliance/truce with John Kasich on Sunday night, they were from a position of weakness -- not strength. The reason: If Cruz and the "Stop Trump" movement don't win in Indiana on May 3, they're done. It's that simple. After Trump ran the table in Tuesday's primaries, including getting at least 35 of the 54 Pennsylvania unbound delegates (and that number could go above 40), a win in Indiana -- even by a single point -- would put him on a glide path to 1,237 delegates. So those are the big stakes for next week's primary in the Hoosier State. But you have to give the Cruz campaign credit: Given that must-win situation, they're trying every trick in the book (early VP pick, alliance) to win. But when you throw that "Hail Mary" and the pass falls incomplete, the game is usually over.
How Trump can get shut out of Indiana but still get to 1,237
But here's the thing: Even if Trump gets shut out in Indiana, he still has a viable path to 1,237. Trump is currently sitting at 991 delegates after Tuesday. Now consider the following contests:
- Indiana: 0/57
- Nebraska: 0/36
- West Virginia: 34/34
- Oregon: 14/28
- Washington: 22/44
- California: 120/172
- Montana: 0/27
- New Jersey: 51/51
- New Mexico: 10/24
- South Dakota: 0/29
So if you add up those numbers with Trump's current delegate haul, you get 1,242 -- five more delegates than the 1,237 he needs for a majority on the first ballot. Here's the current delegate math:
Trump holds a 427-delegate lead over Cruz
Trump needs to win 47% of remaining delegates to reach 1,237 magic number
Cruz needs to win 128% of remaining delegates to reach 1,237 magic number
Kasich needs to win 207% of remaining delegates to reach 1,237 magic number
Trump scores big with the Pennsylvania unbound delegates
Maybe the biggest reason why Trump's path to 1,237 is so viable -- even if he doesn't win Indiana -- is because he dominated the fight for Pennsylvania's 54 unbound delegates after his 35-point win in the Keystone State. "NBC News reached out to all 54 delegate winners after the polls closed Tuesday night. Interviews reveal that as of Wednesday afternoon 35 said they intend to support Trump on the first ballot at the convention -- a number that could rise north of 40 when the final ten delegates are reached. Trump's delegate haul is an impressive feat for the candidate who has largely ignored the convoluted and intricate delegate process."
Sanders campaign lays off hundreds of workers
Turning to the Democratic race, NBC's Danny Freeman confirmed the New York Times report that the Sanders campaign is laying off hundreds of workers. Sanders communications director Michael Briggs told Freeman that they are "right-sizing" after a 50-state strategy -- but now there are only 10 states left. "It's a posture of reality" looking at campaigns in 10 states rather than 50, Briggs said. Here's the Democratic delegate math:
In pledged delegates, Clinton currently holds a lead of 331 delegates with Washington delegates to still be allocated (was 270 before last night)
- Clinton 1,641 (55%)
- Sanders 1,320 (45%)
Clinton must win 35% of remaining pledged delegates to get a majority in pledged delegates
Sanders must win 65% of remaining pledged delegates to get a majority in pledged delegates
In overall delegates (pledged + super), Clinton holds an overall lead of 787 delegates
Clinton must win 19% of remaining delegates to reach 2,383 magic number
Sanders must win 81% of remaining delegates to reach 2,383 magic number
Latino voter registration spikes
Finally, here's one of the biggest storylines we'll be tracking if we're headed for a Clinton-vs.-Trump general election. "Registration among Hispanic voters is skyrocketing in a presidential election cycle dominated by Donald Trump and loud GOP cries to close the border," The Hill writes. "Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Elected and Appointed Officials, projects 13.1 million Hispanics will vote nationwide in 2016, compared to 11.2 million in 2012 and 9.7 million in 2008."
On the trail
Donald Trump holds rallies in Evansville, IN at 1:00 pm ET and Costa Mesa, CA at 10:00 pm ET… Ted Cruz stumps in Indiana, hitting Fort Wayne, Elkhart, and South Bend… And John Kasich spends his day in Oregon.