Tomorrow’s primary race in Indiana is proving to be the key race on the road to the GOP nomination. After California, it is the state richest in delegates and the process for awarding those delegates is pretty straight forward. Indiana has nine congressional districts. Whoever wins those districts gets all three delegates from that district. The remainder are awarded to whoever wins the state vote overall. Thus, whoever wins the state vote gets 30 delegates.
Ted Cruz has as much acknowledged that Indiana will essentially determine the outcome of the nomination. This is why he forged a “deal” with John Kasich. It is why he largely abandoned the April 26th Northeast primaries to concentrate on Indiana. It is why he chose a Vice-Presidential running mate months before the convention. One can say a certain level of desperation is setting in, or at least worry that Trump may be able to do the unthinkable- get enough delegates to win on the first ballot.
Forget Kasich who will clearly serve the role of Ted Cruz spoiler in Indiana despite their agreement. Every vote that goes to Kasich is one less for Cruz. True, it is also not a vote for Trump, but the idea in Indiana is not to defeat Trump, but to soundly defeat him and win all the delegates. If so, the chances of a first ballot victory for Trump decrease exponentially.
Indiana is difficult to get a grasp on as far as predicting a winner here. An article by Criag Fehrman at Fivethirtyeight describes the demographics of the state as more accurately mirroring those of Kentucky and Tennessee rather than its Midwestern neighbors. If true, then demographics would indicate a better-than-expected showing by Trump in Indiana.
Polling out of Indiana is sparse since most were concentrating on states like Pennsylvania and New York. Some Cruz supporters were excited over a recent poll by IPFW/Down’s Center showing Cruz up by 16 points. But just as we should not get dismayed over an outlying poll showing Trump up by several points, neither should we get excited about an outlying poll showing Cruz up by several points. In fact, throw out the best poll for either candidate and average the remainder and you may get a more accurate indication. That would give Trump a 5-point advantage. Averaging the MOE in those polls, we get 5 points. Hence, this race is really a dead heat.
Two of Indiana’s districts are Democratic- the 1st and 7th. The remainder, except perhaps the 2nd, are strong Republican districts according to the Cook PVI. They tend to be urban areas which should favor Trump. In past GOP presidential primaries, both these districts overwhelmingly voted for the front running candidate at the time. One would suspect them to do the same this time out.
My fearless prediction for Indiana based on demography, previous voting records in districts, etc. is as follows: Trump to win the state 47% of the vote to Cruz’s 43% although Cruz will win five of the nine districts. This would give Trump 42 of the state’s 57 delegates and Cruz the other 15. And I seriously hope I am wrong!!!