Yes, Trump has been winning—and winning big—for the last two weeks. But his win in tonight’s Indiana primary was pivotal, for a number of reasons. If Trump lost in Indiana, a contested convention would be all but certain—Trump would have to sweep California’s delegates to get to 1,237 before the Republican Convention. But after winning in Indiana, he is very much on pace to win the Republican nomination outright, and avoid a contested convention.
Just as important, it’s hard to see how Ted Cruz recovers from this. Indiana was, in many ways, a state that Cruz should have won, but his loss tonight is proof that GOP voters increasingly are holding him responsible for their party’s fractious primary and are beginning to coalesce around Donald Trump as their nominee.
Finally, there’s the size of Trump’s victory itself. Less than ten percent of precincts are reporting, but his margin was big enough that CNN, ABC, and NBC have already called the state for him. Based on current results, Trump will win more votes than Cruz and John Kasich, whose famous #NeverTrump alliance never really got off the ground. Once upon a time, Donald Trump was thought to have a ceiling—many people inside the GOP establishment and the media believed that he would struggle to ever attract more than 40 percent of the electorate. In New York, Pennsylvania, and now, Indiana, he’s demolished that supposed ceiling.