Today’s Indiana primary is Ted Cruz’s last chance of disrupting Donald Trump in his bid to wrap up the Republican nomination. Cruz knows that if Trump wins, barring what will be seen as a Republican coup, his rival will be facing off against Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House. Whilst the results from Indiana aren’t in yet, the early signs do not look good for Ted. The polls show that Trump is the favourite to win the contest in Indiana. Real Clear Politics, which provides an average of various polls, puts the Donald on 42 points, with Cruz trailing on 32.7.
Cruz has spent his time in Indiana being heckled by Trump supporters. One exchange, in which Cruz was asked where his ‘Goldman Sachs jacket’ was, proved particularly interesting for giving an insight into just how Cruz’s campaign has faltered. Cruz told a Trump voter on TV:
‘Sir, with all respect, Donald Trump is deceiving you. He is playing you for a chump’
The man’s reply?
‘I don’t believe in anybody. But I believe in Trump’
Trump looks set to wrap up the Republican nomination for exactly the reason that he is the candidate for those who ‘don’t believe in anybody’. What Trump offers is an ‘anti’ narrative which is attractive for its nihilism and its disdain for the Republican establishment. But how did Cruz fail to win support from that same pool of discontented voters who he was well placed to get the backing of? His time in the Senate has been defined by his track record of kicking up trouble for the Republican leadership. If Cruz had maintained that image during the GOP race, then he may have been more successful in disrupting Trump’s success. But as it is, it just hasn’t worked out that way for the Texas senator. So where did it all go wrong for Cruz? Phillip N. Diehl writes in The Hill that the moment Cruz accepted the Republican party’s support in Wisconsin was his ‘fatal mistake’. He says:
‘By co-operating with the party in Wisconsin, Cruz crucially altered the narrative of the campaign. Once he tacitly accepted the party’s embrace, he began to morph from a conservative stalwart to an opportunist’
Ted Cruz said after his success in Wisconsin that the state’s voters had ‘lit a candle’. But in a Republican contest which was always going to favour the candidate able to paint themselves as the least ‘Establishment’, it looks as though his success there and closeness to the Republican party leadership merely alerted voters to the fact that Cruz was not so different from the rest of them.