Indiana now represents the best chance for the “Stop Trump” forces to do just that.
“If they lose in Indiana, it’s all over,” Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist who has long studied presidential politics and campaigns, predicted yesterday, a day after Donald Trump won five more Republican primaries.
The Hoosier State, which votes Tuesday, could make the difference in whether Trump can sew up the Republican nomination before the party’s convention this summer. Win there and Trump will be on a much easier path to garner the 1,237 delegates necessary to avoid a contested convention.
Lose Indiana to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Trump probably would have to score a huge win in California to meet the delegate requirement. The delegate math that Trump, Cruz and even Ohio Gov. John Kasich now face will force a furious fight over the next week for a state that doesn’t often play a role in the presidential nomination process.
If Trump loses, it “could shift the momentum,” Haley Barbour, former Mississippi governor and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, told the Indianapolis Star. “If Trump wins, then he makes a case that he could win all over the country, even in a two-man race, and that would be very beneficial to him as he prepares for the West Coast primaries. So both sides have a lot to gain.”
Trump swept five states in the “Acela” primary (named for the Amtrak train from Washington to Boston) Tuesday: Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. Trump netted 109 delegates, Kasich five and Cruz three. That leaves Trump with 954 delegates, Cruz 562 and Kasich 171. Only Trump has a chance to reach the 1,237 delegates milestone before the convention.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton moved closer to cementing the nomination after winning four of the “Acela” states. Rhode Island went to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Clinton now has 2,151 delegates; Sanders has 1,338. Sanders would have to win about 80 percent of the delegates in the remaining states to snatch the nomination from Clinton, a very difficult feat, although Sanders has said he’s staying in the race. He said he still has a narrow path to victory, though many analysts have said the Democratic chase is all but over.
Rory Cooper, a consultant to the “Stop Trump” campaign, told MSNBC yesterday it will all come down to California, no matter what happens in Indiana. “That’s where we’re going to have to be successful,” Cooper said. But Sabato said if Trump gets most of Indiana’s delegates, or even half, his burden in California becomes much, much easier.
“They have to defeat him and preferably by a wide margin,” Sabato said, referring to anti-Trump forces in Indiana. “They have to get people’s attention. A one-point defeat? Nah. A five-point defeat? That’s probably not going to do it either.”