Ted Cruz and the anti-Donald Trump movement have gone to great lengths to stop Trump from winning Indiana’s primary on Tuesday, in what would be his seventh-consecutive victory.
So far, it doesn’t appear to be working.
Polls show the Manhattan billionaire up in the Hoosier state, where a Trump win would all but secure the Republican nomination.
A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that Trump held a gigantic 15-point lead over the Texas senator. FiveThirtyEight gave Trump an 83% chance of winning the state based on its polls-plus model, and a 97% chance of winning based on its polls-only projection.
Trump assured supporters during a Monday rally that his campaign is “way ahead of projection” and that he would secure the Republican presidential nomination on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention in July.
“But if we win Indiana,” he added, “it’s over.”
Knowing that the state, which votes Tuesday, could be the last stand of the “Never Trump” movement, Cruz and anti-Trump forces have gone all out to stop him. Cruz began last week by cutting an unprecedented deal with John Kasich, the Ohio governor.
The deal called for Kasich’s campaign to pull out of Indiana, in hopes that his absence would give Cruz the boost he needed to pick up the crucial win. In exchange, Cruz would recede from both Oregon and New Mexico, which both hold contests later in the nominating process.
But less than a week after the deal was announced by both campaigns, the agreement was already on the verge of collapse.
Trump himself has called the deal “collusion” between the two campaigns and has lambasted both for making it. But on Friday, signifying the diminishing nature of the agreement, Trump mocked both candidates in a scathing tweet.
“Wow, the ridiculous deal made between Lyin’ Ted Cruz and 1 for 42 John Kasich has just blown up,” he posted. “What a dumb deal – dead on arrival!”
The deal wasn’t Cruz’s only attempt at shifting Hoosier State polls, which have shown that Trump holds a more than 9-point average lead.
On Wednesday, the Texas senator made another rare announcement. He named ex-presidential hopeful and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his running mate, should he win the GOP nomination. (Both Cruz and Kasich are mathematically eliminated from securing the nomination ahead of the convention, so their potential nominations would have to come from subsequent ballots.)
Trump chastised Cruz for that move as well, calling it a “waste of time.”
Cruz has benefited from millions in negative-ad spending from anti-Trump operatives. But his week of mixed news was summed up Friday when Indiana Gov. Mike Pence decided to announce his support for the Texas senator. Pence did so, however, while lavishing extensive praise on Trump.
“I particularly want to commend Donald Trump, who I think has given voice to the frustration of millions of working Americans with a lack of progress in Washington, DC,” Pence said.
Either way, Trump appears to be sitting pretty in his race to lock up the Republican nomination, after six consecutive primary victories. Trump, who has been touring the state alongside legendary former Indiana University men’s basketball coach Bobby Knight in recent days, may not even need to win Indiana to do so.
MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki projected ahead of this month’s New York primary that Trump might need only nine delegates from the Hoosier State to lock up the nomination.
That was before Trump exceeded Kornacki’s delegate projections in New York, in the five Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states that voted Tuesday, and with “unbound” — essentially free agent — delegates from Pennsylvania that have pledged to support Trump on the convention’s first ballot.
Kornacki wrote of Indiana: “It’s hard to overstate the importance of this state.”
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