James Burt (TheWhiteRabbit) looks at the battle
Following Trump’s crushing victory in five north-eastern states on Tuesday, attention has now turned to next week’s GOP primary in Indiana.
Indiana could prove a critical state on the route to Trump securing the nomination.
There are ten states left to go to the polls, but four are ‘winner take all’ states where the result is foregone. Another three allocate their delegates proportionally, which means the difference between good and bad performances is no more than twenty delegates between them. And in West Virginia Trump will be battling some arcane delegate allocation rules, rather than Kasich or Cruz.
That leaves just Indiana and California as critical states – and the latter will be among the last to elect, with plenty of hostile terrain for Trump between the two.
Hence Indiana will be Trump’s last chance to land a significant victory for some time, with a fairly hefty 57 delegates up for grabs.
Indiana will allocate 27 to the state winner and a further three to the winner of the state’s ten congressional districts. That means a relatively small lead for Trump over Cruz could mean 45 delegates or more; a small lead for Cruz could easily see Trump reduced to twelve or fewer.
Pre-Tuesday polls show Trump between 5 and 8 points ahead of Cruz. Trump has, if anything, created more momentum this week and is now regularly exceeding the polls. Trump should now be (and indeed is) firm favourite to secure Indiana and take a major step to the nomination. To put it another way: Cruz needs a big upset.
If Trump does win in Indiana, then all he will need to do to get to 1,237 delegates is convert his current polling leads in California. Even if Trump fails to make it across the line prior to the convention, he can now rely on 20 to 30 Pennsylvania delegates who are officially uncommitted but have expressed a preference to vote for him.
This gives Trump a big target to aim at – he deserves skinny odds of 1.28 with PaddyPower to win on the first ballot.
James Burt (TheWhiteRabbit)