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Eye On Candidates
April 11, 2016

Is Indiana Cruz’s next big test?

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has been enjoying a good couple of weeks, winning Wisconsin and sweeping the delegate races in Colorado. Over at National Journal, Josh Kraushaar suggests the next big test for Cruz may be in Indiana, which holds its primary on May 3:

Indiana: An Unlikely Bellwether in the GOP Race

As im­press­ive as Ted Cruz’s double-di­git Wis­con­sin vic­tory was, there’s no sign that the Re­pub­lic­an race will de­vi­ate from its long-stand­ing tem­plate. Don­ald Trump should hold onto about one-third of the GOP vote, with his geo­graph­ic strength con­cen­trated among Re­pub­lic­ans in the Deep South and the North­east. He fig­ures to do well in the re­main­ing North­east­ern states, while Cruz should com­fort­ably pre­vail in the Plains states. That leaves In­di­ana as the most use­ful bell­weth­er to where this race is headed.

...[I]f the anti-Trump elect­or­ate con­sol­id­ates, as it did for Cruz in Wis­con­sin, it’s hard to see him do­ing well. Trump’s re­cord in the Mid­w­est has been re­mark­ably con­sist­ent. He took 39 per­cent of the vote in Illinois, 36 per­cent in Michigan, 36 per­cent in Ohio, and 35 per­cent in Wis­con­sin. When the field was lar­ger, that was good enough to win. But now that the race is down three can­did­ates, those per­cent­ages are un­likely to net him many del­eg­ates.

But Trump should be­ne­fit be­cause In­di­ana lacks a fig­ure with the clout and pop­ular­ity of Wis­con­sin Gov. Scott Walk­er, who helped con­sol­id­ate the anti-Trump vote squarely be­hind Cruz, even though many of Cruz’s voters were more ideo­lo­gic­ally aligned with Ohio Gov. John Kasich....

Cruz will likely be com­ing off a los­ing streak en­ter­ing In­di­ana’s primary, with six North­east­ern states cast­ing bal­lots in April. Cruz trails Trump in all of them, and badly lags in third place in New York. If any­thing, In­di­ana provides Kasich one last op­por­tun­ity to make a show­ing be­fore the con­ven­tion—by fin­ish­ing ahead of Cruz in the North­east and then trans­lat­ing his Mid­west­ern ap­peal to In­di­ana, which is next door to his home state.  

New York is technically the next big prize, but most expect Trump to do well, with possibly Kasich picking off some votes, not Cruz. Which makes the Indiana contest in early May a pivotal one, where Cruz will probably be in a position of needing to re-establish himself as the clear alternative to Trump.