The Indiana primary has been described as Ted Cruz’s very last firewall. (Click the previous link for Indiana primary results tomorrow night as the returns come in.) If Cruz loses the Hoosier state, the conventional wisdom goes, say hello to Donald Trump, Republican nominee. I believe that thinking doesn’t accurately depict the real situation in the race. It may be an attempt to prolong the heightened interest in the primary season that we’ve seen to this point. As I wrote last Wednesday, Donald Trump nailed down the GOP nod with his overwhelming rout in last week’s Northeast Super Tuesday.
He was expected to run the tables in the region of the country he calls home, but the measure to which he accomplished that feat was striking. He gained two important advantages from his better-than-anticipated performance. First, he earned more delegates than expected. And given the small margin of error Ted Cruz has to keep him from getting to 1,237, that is no small matter. Second, he burst through the 50% ceiling and claimed a good amount of momentum in the process.
That momentum is carrying over to this week’s primary election in Indiana. In three polls taken before last Tuesday, Trump had a 6.3-point lead on average. In two polls taken since, that lead has almost doubled to 12 points. (I’m leaving out a weird outlier giving Cruz an impossible 16-point lead. What’s that about?) It’s clear Donald Trump has achieved an air of invincibility everyone outside of Cruz’s campaign and Kasich’s mind can see. Still, some would like to say Cruz has a chance if he can pull out a victory in Indiana. Frankly, I don’t believe he will, and even if he does, Trump still looks invincible to me.
I’ll say Trump does win tomorrow and takes away 45-51 of Indiana’s 57 delegates and any last storyline that Cruz has a chance to win the nomination. I should add here that this is not a pleasant prediction for me to make. It disappoints me greatly to see Trump become the GOP nominee, but I call it like I see it here at Election Projection. You can always count on that.