Indiana is one of only two toss-up states remaining—California, with its 172 delegates, is another—and if Cruz wants to force a contested convention he has to do well in its primary on Tuesday.
After losing five primaries to Trump in a single day on Tuesday, which came a week after losing New York very badly, Cruz’s numbers in Indiana have fallen precipitously. Trump’s string of victories robbed Cruz of his post-Wisconsin momentum and made it abundantly clear that robbing Trump of the nomination at the convention would be an enormously risky and costly gambit. It has forced Cruz to spend a lot of time explaining why he’s still in the race.
Now, the Cruz camp is desperate and trying anything imaginable to overtake Trump. The absurd selection of Carly Fiorina as Cruz’s vice president was one such move, but Cruz’s messaging has also begun to wander. He’s claimed repeatedly that Clinton and Trump are indistinguishable—a statement so patently false it’s hard to see it working. He’s claimed that Trump is the real Washington insider. He and Fiorina have also talked about basketball, the most popular sport in the state, a lot, despite the fact that Cruz seems to be totally unfamiliar with the sport. In other words, Cruz is throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. Trump’s message is simpler: I’m the presumptive nominee and Cruz has been mathematically eliminated from the nomination.