Indiana May Be the Definitive Victory for Trump

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Donald Trump Holds Rally With Former Basketball Coach Bobby Knight
Inevitability seems close.Photo: John Sommers II/2016 Getty Images

A new NBC News/WSJ/Marist poll shows Donald Trump beating Ted Cruz by 15 points in Indiana, where the vote on Tuesday is seen by many as the actual last opportunity to halt Trump’s first-ballot nomination in Cleveland. FiveThirtyEight’s forecast now gives Trump a 69 percent probability of winning on Tuesday, and Politico is reporting that top staff inside Cruz’s campaign are beginning to see Indiana’s writing on the wall as well, though Indiana’s GOP elite have seemed less savvy about the situation. In addition, Cruz’s “Hail Carly” — as USA Today deftly characterized the candidate’s sudden choice of Carly Fiorina as a running mate last week — has apparently had only a modest impact on Cruz’s poll numbers. In the meantime, Cruz himself continues to profess his belief in an outcome which, so far, projections do not support, telling reporters in California on Saturday that, “At this point no one is getting to [the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination outright]. I’m not getting to 1,237 before the convention, but neither is Donald Trump.” Appearing on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Cruz again insisted that “it is going to be a contested convention” — though he and his staff seem to have also acknowledged that if Trump wins Indiana, his nomination will be impossible to block. (If you need a good primer on the convention process, head here.)

In the meantime, Cruz’s campaign did manage to poach a bunch more delegate slots for its supporters in a few states over the weekend. At a contentious and confusing state GOP convention on Saturday in Arizona, even former governor Jan Brewer, a Trump supporter, lost her bid to become a delegate. In all, CNN reports that only about a dozen of the state’s 58 national delegate slots went to Trump supporters, despite the GOP front-runner winning the state’s March primary by more than 20 points. Brewer and other Trump campaign supporters and staff in the state are thus accusing the GOP establishment of rigging the vote against Trump and are threatening to sue. And on Saturday in Virginia, Cruz supporters also won another 10 of 13 delegate slots that were up for grabs, according to ABC News. Trump also won that primary.

But leaving alone the now-probability that Trump will win the nomination outright, it also seems that Cruz’s delegate poaching might be for naught regardless, considering how the views of those delegates may not be as ironclad as the Cruz campaign hopes. The New York Times reports that “as the gravitational pull of Mr. Trump’s recent primary landslides draws more Republicans toward him, Mr. Cruz’s support among the party’s 2,472 convention delegates is softening.” They note that supposedly Cruz-supporting delegates are now beginning to waver on their commitment to the Texas senator in multiple states, favoring party unity instead.

There do still seem to be plenty of Republicans who want little to do with Trump, however, as the Times also reports that “a remarkable range of leading Republicans, including Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, have been emphatic publicly or with their advisers and allies that they do not want to be considered as Mr. Trump’s running mate.” When some of Trump’s defeated rivals or their associates were asked if they would join a Trump ticket, they scoffed or even laughed. The central concern of those bowing out is a familiar one: that Trump is so toxic and will lose so badly in November that being associated with him will damage one’s political future, thought the Times also notes that “elected officials do have a way of coming around to the vice presidency, and Mr. Trump said in an interview on Saturday that he was in the early stages of mending fences and building deeper relationships with leading Republicans.”