That means: if the candidate is polling well leading up to the actual primary in that state, that candidate is going to get those results where it matters (actual delegates). Polling does include actual voters as well as likely voters, dontcha know.
In that regards, considering how Trump is leading in nearly every state, we ought to be f-cking sh-tting the beds and rioting in the streets. This is not a good thing to consider, is it?
This is where and how the delegation counts come into play. A lot of Republican primaries and caucuses tend to be proportional, so that if Trump only gets about 23 percent of a primary result, he'll get the plurality of delegates but not a solid majority. Hence the thinking we can see a brokered convention in Cleveland this 2016 since Trump may not garner enough delegates to cross the finish line.
Except for one fact: some states are Winner-Take-All, where the top vote-getter gets ALL (or most) of the state's delegates. There are certain rules that allow other candidates to get a few delegates from a WTA state, but the key word there is "few".
One other thing about that fact: some of the largest delegation states - Florida, Ohio, California - are WTA. Granted, some states' rules do break down to allow candidates to win selected districts if they can - California in particular - but the odds are whoever wins the whole state is winning a lot of districts as well.
If we look at my home state - Florida - the delegate count is 81 District, 15 At-Large, 3 RNC for a total of 99. The rules are "Winner-take-all: At-large and district delegates are both allocated based on the statewide vote," which I think means whoever wins the statewide polling gets both District and At-Large (RNC gets delegated another way). Meaning whoever is leading in the polls by March 15 2016 can well win Florida, and that's a guaranteed 96 delegates. If you're Second Place, you don't even get a set of steak knives.
Look at who's leading in Florida right now in the polls. Donald Trump, with no sign of major drop in support over the last two-three months. Ted Cruz may be polling now in Second, but he's on average about 10-14 points behind, not enough margin for statistical error to consider he's even got a chance. (If there is any satisfaction from this polling, it's that Jeb is so far behind in Fourth Place that there's no way he can cheat his way to win his "home" state)
It'd be helpful to look at each state's polling for candidates, to get a clearer picture of who's winning by how much, but there doesn't look to be - unless I'm looking in the wrong spots - a lot of polling going on outside of battleground states. I'm currently looking at Real Clear Politics for tracking the numbers, which only gives me a lot of Iowa and New Hampshire, some South Carolina and Florida results. The last poll for Ohio they've got is from Quinnipiac for October, which doesn't help. That shows Trump in a bare lead (+5) over Carson, and we know Carson has slipped nationally since then.
All we have for certain are the nationwide polling results, with Trump garnering on average 36 percent of primary voters: he's leading double-digits over everyone else, which may mean he's leading - at least polling in the Top Three - in every state, meaning he's leading in the delegate counts as well.
March 1 may be when a lot of states poll their caucuses and primaries, but they're mostly Proportional wins with threshold requirements: They may give the candidates grinding out Second through Sixth Places hopes of snagging enough delegates to matter in July. But March 15 is A Day of Reckoning: that's when Florida and Ohio both chime in with their WTA results, and with large enough delegate counts to put one candidate - Trump, OH GOD NO - well ahead of the others.
And like it or not, momentum from February and March carries a lot of weight even into June during primaries regardless of what the party's leadership - and deep-pocket backers - wants.
Florida and Ohio are key. He who controls
Which is why I'm begging the residents of Florida to drop out of the Republican Party and switch to NPA. I don't want my state to screw over the nation AGAIN if it ends up being Trump. I'd like to think there's...
Wait a minute. I'm being told if I talk people out of the GOP, I'm likely getting the sane voters whereas the insane voters will stick with Trump. Okay. Okay, gotta go the other way then. Gotta convince 4 million registered Florida Republicans to put their support in a sane candidate for the GOP. Okay, sane candidate... (looks at Kasich as the only sane one left) Oh, c'mon John, you gotta AT LEAST be winning YOUR own home state...!