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.