The Associated Press just called the Indiana Primary for Donald Trump. I wanted to make five observations about tonight’s win for Trump:
1. Donald Trump can’t win the nomination until at least June 7th.
That isn’t me being bitter, that’s just me stating a mathematical fact. Ohio Governor John Kasich has made a commitment to stay in, and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has said he will stay in until the last primary. Donald Trump’s chances to get to 1237 have obviously gone up dramatically with his win in Indiana, but there are other states that he will need to win or exceed expectations in, and tonight’s win in Indiana will help him do that. It’s possible that Trump can still be stopped, but it is far less likely which brings me to my next point.
Update: Ted Cruz suspended his campaign saying his path is no longer viable. I will post on this later. Unless John Kasich can pull off a miracle, Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee.
2. It is hard to combat the media narrative.
A narrative built after New York and the Northeastern primaries that Trump couldn’t be stopped. When the media treats a candidate as the presumptive nominee it is really hard to overcome that (especially when you have the former Speaker of the House calling Cruz “Lucifer”). A majority of Indiana Republican primary voters went for the candidates the media pushed, and in so doing voted for a misogynistic, womanizing, tyrannical bully. Good work Indiana. I understand the narrative of inevitability. It pushed me to vote for Bob Dole in 1996 the one time I voted in the Indiana Primary even though that wasn’t my preference. I still regret that vote, and I would suspect there will be a number of Hoosiers who will regret their vote today down the road as well. At least Dole acted presidential (mind you this was before he did erectile dysfunction commercials).
The win in Indiana tonight reinforces this narrative for low information voters.
3. The deal between Kasich and Cruz was a mistake.
Trump’s messaging was asinine, but effective. The deal between Kasich and Cruz was not some shady, backroom deal, but a strategic decision to invest resources where they both though it would do the most good. Both candidates are banking on a contested convention and the only way they can get there is by blocking Donald Trump from getting to 1237. It doesn’t help either of them if they are canceling each other out. Kasich isn’t helped if Trump wins Indiana, and Cruz isn’t helped if Trump wins Oregon and New Mexico. It was a sound strategy, but it doesn’t matter because… narrative.
“They’re cheating… They’re being unfair.” Hear that often enough that is what people will believe. Trump is a master at propaganda.
4. Indiana is not like Wisconsin. It’s more like Michigan and Kentucky
The Cruz campaign was banking on Indiana being like Wisconsin, but in reality it’s not. Southern Indiana has similar demographics to Kentucky. There are a lot of blue collar workers in Northwest Indiana, and is very similar to Southern Michigan as well. This makes Indiana is a hard state to predict. This state has had Republican and Democrat Governors and U.S. Senators. With a Trump – Clinton match-up it could even be in play in the general election. On paper Indiana should have been a friendlier state for Cruz, but he didn’t have the momentum and the narrative on his side.
5. Being against Trump is not enough.
Out of necessity Ted Cruz has mainly been focused on why Donald Trump shouldn’t be the nominee. I admit I have as well. What he hasn’t done as well is make a case as to why he should. Cruz needed to focus on an economic message that would have resonated with Hoosiers. He needed to drop talk of people coalescing around his campaign and simply tell the voters why they should be for him. That isn’t to say he shouldn’t point out Donald Trump’s record, but there needed to be balance.