The GOP Indiana primary is looming and it seems to me that it could be the tipping point in this nomination battle.
On the one hand it does seem a little strange to be talking about a tipping point when there is a runaway leader in the race. Donald Trump has more than half of all of the already allocated delegates and needs less than half of those remaining to secure the nomination on the first ballot. He started his primary campaign with more than a dozen rivals and has – one by one – dispatched all of them to the curb. His closest rival, Ted Cruz, is hundreds of delegates and millions of votes behind and the only other candidate in the race – John Kasich – is so far behind as to barely matter right now. Indiana, then, is just the next primary in a nomination race where the frontrunner is expected to either win or come in a close second. A tipping point? If it is then it is an unlikely looking one.
But, on the other hand, a Trump win in Indiana will go a long way to securing the nomination for him. His opponents have thrown everything at him in the last week including taking the presumptuous step of naming a running mate when the nomination is nowhere close to being secured. The Cruz-Fiorina partnership might not survive much more than the primary vote on Tuesday if Trump takes the win – and polls suggest he is in with a shot of doing just that.
Leaving aside the possibility of Kasich winning which is so unlikely as to be near impossible, Indiana will go to either Cruz or Trump. If it’s Cruz then it’ll give him some momentum heading into the final states and towards California. If it’s Trump then he will have overcome everything that every campaign can toss at him and come out with another big win and another mess of delegates. And at that point Cruz will struggle to stay relevant in the last few weeks of the primary fight.
While the polls bounce around a little and while Cruz has the (very soft) endorsement of the Indiana governor, my gut is telling me that Trump has this one. I don’t know if he’ll get over 50% of the vote but I think he will win at least the plurality of the vote and all of the winner-take-all delegates on offer.
And Cruz? He’ll be left without much more to offer an electorate that will have unfortunately rejected him almost everywhere the more they got to know him.