Can Cruz Pull Off the Upset in Indiana?

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

The conventional wisdom is that Tuesday’s contest in Indiana is Ted Cruz’s last chance at stopping Donald Trump.

The conventional wisdom is probably right.

RealClearPolitics has an updated delegate count:

  • Trump: 996
  • Cruz: 565
  • Rubio (dropped out): 171
  • Kasich: 153

Trump is now just 241 delegates away from clinching the nomination with 502 delegates remaining. How will Indiana impact the delegate count?

Here’s what I wrote last week:

Trump has an opportunity to slam the door on this race next week in Indiana, where 57 delegates will be up for grabs. 30 of those delegates will be determined on a winner-take-all basis, while the other 27 will be allocated by congressional district winner — three delegates for each of Indiana’s nine congressional districts.

Right now, polling in Indiana is pretty close. A poll taken a week ago by CBS News/YouGov gave Trump a 40-35 lead over Cruz. Another poll by Fox News gave Trump a 41-33 lead.

A week later, polling is all over the place. It’s important to note — Indiana is a difficult state to poll. State law makes it illegal to do automated polling, and Indiana is very diverse demographically — cities like Gary and Kokomo look very different from each other.

So we have to take polling with a grain of salt. Here are the five most recently released polls:

  • April 28-29: Gravis, Trump 44, Cruz 27
  • April 27-28: ARG, Trump 41, Cruz 32
  • April 27: Clout Research, Trump 37, Cruz 35
  • April 26-28: NBC/WSJ poll, Trump 49, Cruz 34
  • April 13-27: IPFW, Cruz 45, Trump 29

It’s hard to get an accurate sense for the race when polling is so inconsistent. However, there is a clear “consensus” that Trump leads. Betting markets are listing Ted Cruz as a huge underdog, and FiveThirtyEight projects Trump has an 83 percent chance of winning in their “polls-plus” forecast.

To be fair, polling has been wrong at times this cycle. Don’t forget that Bernie Sanders won Michigan despite the fact that nearly every poll leading up to the election showed him trailing by double digits.

My guess? Trump probably wins Indiana and goes on to win the nomination at a surprisingly mundane convention. But what if Cruz manages to pull off an upset in the Hoosier State?

If that happens, as basketball great Kevin Garnett said, “Anything is possible!

Jon Schweppe is the Communications Director for American Principles Project. Follow him on Twitter @JonSchweppe.