Indiana Could Be The Last Stand For The ‘Stop Trump’ Movement

Donald Trump seems poised for another solid victory in Indiana tomorrow, while the effort to stop him from winning a majority of delegates looks to be running out of options.

Donald Trump Speaking

With under twenty-four hours left until polls open, it looks like Donald Trump is headed for a solid victory in the Hoosier State, and that the effort of establishment and mainline conservative Republicans to stop him will suffer yet another defeat:

Donald J. Trump is leading Senator Ted Cruz of Texas by double digits in Indiana, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll, an ominous sign for Mr. Cruz going into the crucial primary there on Tuesday.

A loss in Indiana would represent a near-fatal blow to Mr. Cruz’s campaign and would significantly increase pressure on him to withdraw from the race.

The new poll, released Sunday, shows Mr. Trump taking 49 percent of the vote to 34 percent for Mr. Cruz. Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who has not been campaigning in the state by agreement with Mr. Cruz, receives 13 percent.

If Mr. Trump carries Indiana, which awards its 57 delegates to the statewide winner and to the winner of each congressional district, he will be far better positioned to clinch the Republican nomination on June 7, the last day of primary contests.

Mr. Cruz has mounted an all-out fight in Indiana — convincing Mr. Kasich to withdraw from competing there, naming Carly Fiorina as his would-be running mate at a rally in Indianapolis and criss-crossing the state.

But on Saturday he gave up a full day of Indiana politicking to appear at California’s state Republican convention with Ms. Fiorina. There, he declared that “California is going to decide this Republican primary.”

Candidates wooing local party activists often make such pronouncements, but Mr. Cruz’s trouble in Indiana — which is also reflected in private polls conducted by his campaign, according to Republicans briefed on those surveys — suggests that the remark may represent something more significant: a new rationale to remain in the race after Indiana.

Mr. Cruz’s polls show he is not trailing Mr. Trump in Indiana as badly as he was right after dropping five more states late last month, but his supporters are increasingly skeptical about their prospects in Indiana.

Mr. Trump said on “Fox News Sunday” that if he wins in Indiana, the Republican race will be effectively over.

“Cruz cannot win, he’s got no highway, he’s got nothing, he’s way behind,” Mr. Trump said.

This result mirrors a series of polls that have come out over the past ten days or so, all of which with the exception of one have shown Donald Trump in the lead. That one exception, from a previously unknown polling firm, showed Texas Senator Ted Cruz leading by fifteen points, but it now appears that this was an outlier and that Indiana is very much a state where Trump is favored to continue the winning streak that began two weeks ago in New York. Now,as we head into the final month of the primary campaign, RealClearPolitics shows Trump leading in the Hoosier State by an average of 7.8 points. The results at Pollster are roughly the same.  If that number holds up, then Trump will be well situated to win the most sizable chunk of the state’s  57 delegates and, most likely, getting to within 200 delegates of the 1.237 that he needs to get to a first ballot majority. Indeed, David Wassermann speculates that, due to both Trump’s lead in the polls in the Hoosier State, and that Ted Cruz’s support appears to be concentrated in one or two Congressional Districts, means that Trump stands to win as many as 50 of the state’s 57 delegates.

If that happens, then Trump would seem to be all but officially assured of clinching the nomination, although it would take until the final day of the campaign for it happen. Looking ahead after Indiana, Trump will likely do very well in California and New Jersey, both of which he leads in the polls at the current moment. Between them, these two states have more than 220 delegates at stake. While it’s unlikely that Trump will win all of these delegates because of the way delegates are allocated by Congressional District winner, he stands likely to garner a sizable majority from both states and that, along with the delegates he’s likely to pick up in the remaining states, should be enough to put him over the top, or at least get him close enough to 1,237 that convincing a handful of uncommitted voters to support him shouldn’t be very hard at all. The other factor is that a Trump victory tomorrow is likely to be seen as a significant shift in the race by many in the GOP and the calls to unite around the seemingly inevitable nominee will increase. This is likely to take a lot wind out of the sails of the “Stop Trump” movement, which has been floundering since Wisconsin in any case. All of this means, of course, is that the time for Republicans to decide if they will support Trump merely because he won the GOP nomination is fast approaching. Many people have said they will never support the real estate magnate, but the time is coming when they’ll have to follow through on that. How many will actually do so? I have no idea, but it will be an interesting process to watch.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. What happens if Ted “Shutdown” Cruz decides on the Sampson option?

  2. grumpy realist says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Can he really do anything?

  3. @grumpy realist:

    He could run third party.

  4. C. Clavin says:

    Sully makes a tremendous comeback with a piece about how a Trump Presidency is an extinction level event:

  5. grumpy realist says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I think he’s forbidden in a lot of cases by the “sore loser” laws. In addition, haven’t most of the deadlines to get on third ballot already passed?

  6. CSK says:

    I doubt if Cruz would run third party; the loss would finish him forever.

    In a way he’s almost pitiable. He went to Washington with the intent of making himself hated by the “elites” so he could become the champion of “real Americans” and be swept into the White House on a tsunami of populist fervor. But he never considered the possibility that someone even more loathsome would come along and sweep the primaries.

  7. steve s says:

    I’ve been checking in on RedState every day, it’s one of the main pro-cruz RWNJ sites. They tried, weakly, to be excited about Carly, then they kept saying Indiana’s going to turn everything around, and now they’re just whining and praying Cruz somehow wins it.

  8. J-Dub says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Oh, wouldn’t his Senate colleagues love it if he left the GOP to run third party. They’d never let him back in.

  9. Pete S says:


    In a way he’s almost pitiable. He went to Washington with the intent of making himself hated by the “elites” so he could become the champion of “real Americans” and be swept into the White House on a tsunami of populist fervor. But he never considered the possibility that someone even more loathsome would come along and sweep the primaries.

    He should have seen it coming though. Any competent strategist would have seen that an elected official running obnoxiously against elected officials, would be vulnerable to someone who has never been elected to anything before. This is just like the shutdown he helped to broker – he seems incapable of planning through to an end game, to see how his actions today affect his goals tomorrow. He doesn’t need name recognition among idealogical conservatives. He needs to convince voters that he will work towards what matters to them, even if like Trump he is lying through his teeth when he does.

  10. CSK says:

    @Pete S:

    Well, in the case of Trump, though, you have to bear in mind that this is his fourth “run” for the presidency. Granted the first three times (1988, 1999, 2011) he was just vamping around and marketing his brand. But in a way, that’s the point. I think everyone (astute strategists on both sides) assumed that this would be just another Trump exercise in self-aggrandizement, aborted as soon as he got bored or his ego and brand were sufficiently inflated. And there’s evidence from some of Trump’s former campaign workers to support the idea that for Trump himself this latest run for the roses started out as just another marketing ploy.

  11. CSK says:

    @Pete S:

    And as for the shutdown Cruz engineered, that was never intended as anything but a device to gain Cruz a lot of glory as the hero fighting complacent, corrupt D.C. insiders. That was the goal for Cruz–the endgame in and of itself. He didn’t care about any consequences except the ones that accrued to him in terms of press coverage.

    In other words, he thought through the strategy only to the extent it would satisfy his own ends, because anything beyond that was of no significance.

  12. Pete S says:


    You are definitely right about Trump. I still would not be shocked if he finds a way to quit during the general election campaign if he becomes convinced he is headed for a loss.

    My point about Cruz is that he has spent the last few years running against the “Establishment”. He should have known that creating a demand among the voters for an outsider is a huge risk for a sitting Senator, even one who acts like an anti-social jackass. There are literally hundreds of millions of Americans who are further outside the political establishment than he is.

  13. Andre Kenji says:

    Ted Cruz lost when he failed to win South Carolina and the rest of the Deep South. If he can´t beat a serial adulterer among Evangelicals, he can´t beat Trump nowhere else.

  14. Pch101 says:

    @Pete S:

    He should have known that creating a demand among the voters for an outsider is a huge risk for a sitting Senator, even one who acts like an anti-social jackass.

    Cruz went from being a junior senator into a national household name in short order. He has a bright future ahead of him as a right-wing media pundit.

    If Cruz has long-term ambitions in the federal government, then he hasn’t played it so well, as he seems incapable of building sustainable relationships. But if his goals include getting a gig on Fox News and selling books, then he has done a terrific job. And I suspect that he is more oriented toward the latter objective than the former; for Cruz, serving in office is a means to another end.

  15. CSK says:

    @Pete S:

    So Cruz, in effect, unwittingly set the stage for his own downfall. Yep. Good point. Very Shakespearean denouement, in fact. His ego got in the way.

  16. CSK says:


    Some say Cruz really wants to be a Supreme Court justice, and that the senate would confirm him just to get rid of him.

    But…on reflection, yes, a five-year $1 million per annum gig with Fox and a two-book $8 million dollar contract with HarperCollins sounds a lot more lucrative and like a lot less work.

  17. CB says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Ugh. Is there a more pretentious contrarian out there than Andrew Sullivan? I submit that there is not.

  18. C. Clavin says:

    Jon Huntsman is getting behind Trump.
    So there is a guy that care more about the Republican Party than the Republic.

  19. CSK says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Bucking for the vp slot?

  20. Mr. Prosser says:

    As Daniel Larison said this morning, “The evidence from the NBC News/WSJ poll tells us that Kasich, not Cruz, was the most popular second choice for voters in Indiana.” So the No-Trump effort doesn’t seem to be working and Cruz is not the fallback candidate in Indiana. Wednesday morning breakfast will be toast, burnt, for Ted.

  21. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Cruz creating the spot for an outsider that he hoped (and is failing) to fill reminds a lot of Issa shelling out his own cash to recall Gov. Davis, not realizing that Arnold, an actual outsider would be better-positioned to head to Sacramento.

    The more things change…

  22. stonetools says:

    What Cruz’s failure shows is that ideological conservatism is a spent force even in the Republican Party. Ideological conservatism was supposed to be commitment to above all, the conservative economic gospel-free markets, international free trade, no business regulation, cutting entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, tax cuts for the rich. Ted Cruz preached this gospel, and allied it with the strictest social conservatism -and got slaughtered everywhere, even in the Deep South. Apparently, people don’t believe the voodoo economics anymore, and are also are caring less for the old social conservative standbys.
    When you don’t believe in the old-time religion or the voodoo economics, what’s left of conservatism? Pretty much the dark underbelly of conservatism-white nationalism and bigotry in general. That’s what Trump has been serving up in its pure form, and that’s what Republican base voters are flocking to.
    I expect that the voters in Indiana, California, and New Jersey are going to continue to reject Cruz’s ideological conservatism for Trump’s white national;ism, and that Trump will win out right.

  23. Mikey says:

    @CB: Skip the first half–he starts out really windy and stuffy, but about halfway through he calms down and starts making some good points.

  24. grumpy realist says:

    @stonetools: I wonder how much support Trump would be getting in the blue states if the alternative isn’t Cruz. Cruz is pretty loathsome, and he showed up as the only other viable alternative.

    Of course there’s Kasich, but he comes off as Yet Another Generic Establishment Republican (as did the rest of the crowd that couldn’t shoot straight). What we seem to be seeing is a turn-the-tables-over none-of-the-above election. Voting for Trump is a big finger-in-the-eye to the Elite, and Cruz comes off as a weaselly egoist that will gladly feed people to the fires of the Inquisition in order to get a smidgen of more power.

    Trump comes off as being someone who might actually have ideas on how to help people (even if the ideas are crazy), whereas Cruz is even more egotistical than Donald, if such is possible. Everything out of his mouth is “me” or “I”. He makes it far too obvious that he doesn’t even care about any other American than himself.

  25. C. Clavin says:
  26. @CSK:

    I doubt if Cruz would run third party; the loss would finish him forever.

    You make it sound like Cruz doesn’t have a long history of making futile and ultimately counterproductive political moves purely out of spite.

  27. grumpy realist says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I think there’s a difference between “I’m going to go have a temper tantrum and whine for 4 hours” and “I’m jumping off the cliff.”

    It’s interesting–for someone who thinks he’s really really smart (remember the study group thing) Cruz has the strategic ability of a chicken on LSD.

  28. grumpy realist says:

    Another area where Trump is convinced he’s better than anyone else.

    Having sex with foreign supermodels isn’t what we’re talking about, Donny Boy.

  29. Andre Kenji says:

    @grumpy realist: Trump has plenty of experiences with failed projects bearing his name all over the World, from Mexico to Brazil and Scotland. Heck, he was supposed to build a golf course in city where I live in Brazil. 😛

  30. grumpy realist says:

    @Andre Kenji: Huh. I was thinking that I’ve probably had more experience negotiating with the Japanese than Donny Boy has ever had.

    I’m sure both the Chinese and “my dear friend” Putin are smiling in delight at the possibility of leading Donny Boy up the garden path.

  31. Neil Hudelson says:

    So while my money is on Trump winning it, a few things are going in Cruz’s favor:

    1. As always, much of Trump’s support comes from first time voters. If they didn’t register before the deadline–which I believe was in early April–they can’t vote. This could knock off a percentage or two of Trump’s lead.

    2. Believe it or not, the average GOP voter here leans more towards the low-taxes, business wing of the party than the pro-God wing or ban-brown-people wing of the party. It wouldn’t appear that way a non-Hoosier, but the state’s theocratic bills over the last two years are more a result of Indiana’s last-in-the-nation voter participation than the actual politics of the average citizen. There’s a reason Kasich is actually the preferred choice of most of the state party’s delegates. I can’t establish whether this helps Cruz or Trump more, but my gut feeling is that many 1/4 and 2/4 (those who voted in 1 out of 4 or 2 out of 4 elections)GOP primary voters would break for the person closest to the establishment.

    Also, that lowest voter participation rate in the nation? Do you think that’s going to hurt Trump or Cruz worst?

    3. Cruz’s ground game here is genuinely impressive, reminiscent of Obama’s in 2008. 2/4 – 4/4 voters are getting at least 3 GOTV calls from the Cruz campaign, and many have been getting incredibly well timed super pac calls (no coordination at all, I’m sure).

    4. Trump is going for quantity, Cruz quality: Trump has one rally planned for today, hoping to fill a stadium. Cruz has 10 stops today, meeting just as many people but doing it in a much more personal matter. In short, retail politics that plays well in the state.

    5. Fiorina. Yes, her pick was widely mocked. Did you know Indiana legislator recently passed on of the most restrictive abortion bills in the nation? Did you know that reproductive rights is THE issue to most of the GOP base here? Did you know Fiorina was (at one point, can’t find the poll now) considered the best candidate to speak on this issue to Hoosier voters? Her placement as VP MIGHT do the trick.

    If the polls showing Trump’s lead at 15% are correct, I dont’ think anything Cruz does can close the gap. However, if Trump’s lead is closer to his average–around 7%–Cruz is better situated than many people think in putting himself over the top. That said, I’m glad I’m not having to put money down on this race.

  32. CB says:


    Hm, I’ll try to power through again. I mean, he always had talent as an aggregator. I liked the Dish for the wide variety of interesting things he would post, and it was essential daily reading for me for a while. But his preening got to be too much and I gave up on his editorial stuff. Eventually I saw him as nothing but a glorified RSS feed.