It is time to deal with the inevitable. Donald Trump will win Indiana so decisively tonight that the Republican race will be effectively over.
With one glaring exception, all the polls show Trump leading Cruz by enough to win the lion’s share of Indiana’s 57 delegates. Moreover, the last three polls show Trump’s share of the vote rising and Cruz’s stagnating or falling. I noticed a similar pattern in the Eastern Seaboard state polls, and in each case these movements presaged a unexpectedly large Trump victory.
The data on this point are incontrovertible. Trump outperformed the RealClearPolitics final poll average in each of the last six states by between five (CT) and 12 (RI) points. He also outperformed his highest percentage in any single poll in that average in all states except Connecticut by between three and seven points. Meanwhile, Cruz under performed his final RCP average in every state but Delaware by between two and four and a half points. Since the RCP average as of this morning is Trump 43, Cruz 32, and Trump’s highest mark in a single Indiana poll is 49 percent, applying the same pattern to tonight’s race means Trump will likely break 50 percent and Cruz will get in the low-thirties.
Accordingly, my range tonight is Trump 48-53, Cruz 29-34, Kasich 13-18. My best guess is Trump 51, Cruz 30, Kasich 15. Trump will win at least 54 of the 57 delegates up for grabs, and will likely win all 57 (IN 5, the high-income Indianapolis suburban CD based in Hamilton County might go for Kasich or Cruz).
A loss this large will presage another massive victory for Trump in next week’s winner-take-all Nebraska primary. Since all delegate counting models had assumed Cruz would win both Indiana and Nebraska, throwing those delegates into the Trump camp means that it is nearly certain that he will reach 1,237 pledged delegates on June 7, the final day of the primaries.
Why Cruz has failed to build on his massive Wisconsin victory will be the subject of another column. But one should note that as the media spotlight glared, Cruz’s share of the vote in national and in state polls dropped. For whatever reason, Republicans whose votes were potentially up for grabs have looked at both men and decisively chosen Trump. Movement conservatives and Republican activists will digest this lesson for months and years to come.