Texas Senator Ted Cruz suspended his Republican presidential campaign on Tuesday after suffering a crippling defeat in Indiana, where he had hoped to blunt frontrunner Donald J. Trump’s momentum in advance of the critical June 7th primary in California.
With 65 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Trump took nearly 53 percent of the vote in Indiana, a state which many (including myself) suspected would play to many of Mr. Cruz’s strengths. Indiana has a high concentration of evangelical voters, which make up over half of the Republican electorate in the state and were the backbone of the young Texas senator’s base of support in many of the early primaries and caucuses. But as the race moved beyond the Iowa caucus, which Mr. Cruz won unexpectedly at the beginning of February, evangelicals abandoned him in favor of Mr. Trump. In Mississippi, the real estate mogul took nearly half of the state’s vast contingent of evangelical voters, while Mr. Cruz took only about two-fifths. And according to exit polling from CNN, the Texas senator lost white evangelical Christians in Indiana by six percent, sealing his fate in a contest where nearly three-fifths of non-evangelicals sided with his opponent.
The withdrawal of Mr. Cruz, a well-funded grassroots conservative candidate with a formidable campaign apparatus, leaves a massive vacuum in the GOP nomination race which Donald Trump looks set to fill. Only Ohio Governor John Kasich, who has not won a single contest since taking his home state on March 15th, stands in the way of Mr. Trump’s path to the nomination. At this point, however, it does not appear that Mr. Kasich will pose much of a threat to the frontrunner. His campaign is poorly funded, with barely more than $1 million cash on hand and $42 million total raised thus far. Without the funds to mount a significant advertising blitz against Mr. Trump in the remaining primaries, the affable, inoffensive Kasich will have great difficulty breaking through his opponent’s utter dominance of national media coverage to reach potential supporters and drive turnout. In California, where statewide advertising is incredibly expensive, the Ohio governor will face the greatest challenge.
The next Republican presidential contests will take place on Tuesday, May 10th, in Nebraska and West Virginia.