Right now (Click that for full effect), in a state not too far away. . . .
It is a period of Republican civil war. Rebel forces, striking from a conservative base, have won few victories against the evil Trumpactic Empire.
During the battles, Rebel forces struggle to win enough delegates to stop the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the TRUMP STAR, an evil billionaire looking for enough power to destroy an entire planet.
Consistently defeated by the Empire’s relentless forces, Senator Cruz races to Indiana aboard his Cruzship, an improbable custodian of the anti-Trump faction that can save the GOP and restore traditionalism to the party. . . .
Okay, I might have exaggerated; I don’t actually think Cruz owns a ship. That being said, Cruz’s success in Indiana, or lack thereof, could well determine the fate of the galaxy. I mean, um, the party.
The Force, however, has clearly been with that stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf-herder, Donald Trump. I was on the record, several times over, saying Trump was about to run away with the primary after Wisconsin. I expect Indiana will make that abundantly clear.
But. BUT! If Indiana manages to land Cruz a convincing victory, I also outlined a potential series of events that could keep things dramatic into June. And I must admit, in the last 24 hours, two minor developments have made me somewhere between a tad and smidge less confident in an easy Trump win in the Hoosier State.
The first is that Indiana’s Republican governor, Mike Pence, endorsed Cruz. The most recent survey I could find on Pence’s approval rating, from late 2015, had him at just 47 percent state-wide, but 64 percent among Republicans. He took a major hit from liberals last year with his Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which you might recall caused a political firestorm, pitting “Religious liberty” vs. “LGBT rights”), but evangelicals, including those in Indiana, have mostly supported him. With Trump’s liberal remarks about North Carolina’s recent transgender bathroom law, the Cruz-Pence alliance can rally Indiana’s sizable right wing to Cruz’s cause.
The second development that marginally gives me hope is yesterday’s revelation of three Indiana polls. Strangely, one had Cruz up 16 and one had Trump up 9. The poll that had Cruz up big, from IPFW, was done over two weeks, meaning some of it was done before New York, to say nothing of the other five northeast states. Still, that’s a huge number, and most of the polling was conducted after New York. If this poll started a week later, Cruz’s lead wouldn’t be 16, but he’d still likely lead outside the margin of error.
For the purposes of a simplified analysis, then, I’m tossing the two divergent polls and relying on the one in the middle conducted by Clout Research on April 27. (For the record, if I had to guess which outlier was more accurate, it’s the one with Trump way out in front.) The top-line result:
- Trump 37
- Cruz 35
- Kasich 16
- Undecided 11
Polls can be so much more interesting than just the top line, though. Below are eight interesting results from Clout’s poll:
1. Despite Trump’s big Tuesday, Clout gives us his smallest margin in any Indiana poll taken this cycle (assuming we toss Cruz’s massive IPFW result). The three previous surveys took place earlier this month, and they had Trump up by 6, 8, then 5.
2. Kasich had broken 20 in two of those three polls. Does this 16 signal some slight movement toward Cruz, climbing from 31 to 33 to 35, after their deal?
3. Only 37 percent for the candidate that’s called himself the presumptive Republican nominee?
4. Favorable/Unfavorable splits:
- Cruz 46/37 (+9)
- Kasich 42/37 (+5)
- Trump 42/45 (-3)
5. If you’re daring to have hope in Indiana at this point, you have company.
6. Firmness of their choice:
- “Very Firm”–68%
- “Somewhat Firm”–24%
- “Not at all firm”–8%
That’s a largely locked in electorate. However, is it just me, or is it strange that 11 percent from the top line are “Undecided” but only eight percent here are “not firm” in their choice? Does that mean three percent of Indiana Republicans are at least rather confident that they won’t end up deciding? Or that three percent of Indiana Republicans are undecided how firm they are? Or that 64 percent of the Undecideds are “Very firm” that they’ll stay that way, 24 percent are “somewhat firm” that they’ll stay that way, and 8 percent aren’t sure whether they’re undecided or not? The mind races.
7. If Trump’s the nominee, less than two-thirds of respondents say they’d vote for him in the general election. Six percent said they’d vote for the Democrat (which I assume they know will be Hillary Clinton), and just as many say they’ll vote third party. (Somewhere in a lonely room, Gary Johnson just high-fived his other hand.) That sounds bad for Trump, but another 19 percent weren’t sure what they would do. I’d wager nearly all of them will come around to Trump if they haven’t ruled him out already.
8. Fascinating result to a question asking if the system is “rigged” or “fair”:
- Fair: 50.1% (212 respondents)
- Rigged: 49.9% (211)
Virtually even, eh? Sounds rigged.
Before we get excited, we have to remember it’s just one poll. I’m not reading too much into it, as much as I want to. We’ll have to monitor the state over the weekend. A #NeverTrump optimist likes that Cruz, Fiorina, and Pence can cover three times as much ground as Trump, but I doubt the combined crowds of all three could match the number or decibel level of Trump’s enthusiastic audience. Still, if other polling confirms that momentum is improbably in Cruz’s corner despite the northeast primaries, then perhaps Indiana, our last hope for a contested convention, helps us after all.
Am I beyond obsessed with Trump losing? Without question. Am I crazy for even entertaining Indiana as our only hope? Perhaps. Maybe this primary has caused me to lose my mind, but don’t try to figure me out. You’re not the Freuds I’m looking for.