By Jim Ellis
April 29, 2016 — The 2016 presidential campaign has taken a dramatic turn in a very short amount of time. Is the race reaching its end, or will we see yet another twist?
Before last week’s New York primary, Donald Trump was reeling, clearly experiencing the most significant momentum downturn since his campaign began. Then came the primary, and he exceeded his pre-determined delegate goal, thus righting the ship. In this week’s eastern regional primary, the real estate mogul performed in similar fashion and even topped his New York finish. Now, it is Sen. Ted Cruz who is suddenly facing elimination as the Indiana primary quickly approaches next Tuesday. For Trump to remain on his first-ballot victory track, he must take at least 39 votes from the 57 Indiana Republican delegates.
According to The Green Papers.com website that compiles political statistics, Trump has a first-ballot delegate count of 956, which tells us he is 281 away from winning the nomination. This means that the GOP front-runner must obtain 56 percent of the remaining 502 delegates from the 10 states yet to vote. Trump is the only candidate who can qualify for a first-ballot victory and do so without the aid of unbound delegates. Sen. Cruz and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) can now only band together in hopes of denying Trump the outright majority in order to force a contested convention.
Now it is Sen. Cruz who desperately needs a win. Since his new goal is to deny Trump as many delegates as possible, any sizeable Indiana victory will blunt his opponent’s momentum and stop the march toward a first ballot nomination. Gov. Kasich’s decision to not campaign there will help, but there will have to be a sizable push from the Ohio governor to encourage his Indiana supporters to vote for Cruz. With a series of recent polls finding Cruz trailing Trump from five to eight points, the Kasich push is a critical component for the Texas senator to move into first place. Failure to win Indiana may prove fatal to Sen. Cruz’s 2016 presidential aspirations.