Trump KOs Cruz in Indiana, Bernie Beats Hillary Again

Yesterday was the final day of competition for the Republican nomination for the presidency of the US while it was another pointless battle on the Democratic side. The Hoosier state gave all 57 of its delegates to Donald Trump; he carried the state as a whole and each congressional district. That was sufficient to cause Ted Cruz to suspend his campaign. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton 53% to 47%, closing the delegate gap between them by six seats. Sadly for those Feeling the Bern, says she remains ahead by about 260 in pledged delegates and by about 767 with the superdelegates added to the mix. Based on the latter count, she is 181 delegates short of the nomination. As predicted here in January, this year’s general election will be a scorched-earth fight between the Trump and Clinton forces.

The Sanders campaign maintains that Mrs. Clinton will not arrive at the convention with enough pledged, elected delegates to claim the nomination. That means that the superdelegates will decide the nomination. Therefore, they can still win the nomination at the convention by peeling away her superdelegates. To convince these party leaders (or hacks depending on one’s point of view), they note that Senator Sanders wins by more in hypothetical general election match-ups than does Mrs. Clinton. They note that their man keeps winning (lately). They argue that Mrs. Clinton is damaged goods and cannot stand up to the Trump bullying machine.

What they fail to acknowledge is political reality. Mrs. Clinton is going to pick up the 181 pledged, elected delegates needed to win the nomination. Given the way the delegates are awarded, this will still take until June 7 when California and New Jersey vote, but barring victory margins of 60% or better (that is Mr. Sanders taking 80% of the vote or more), the Vermont senator cannot stop her.

Now, the idea of taking superdelegates away does make some sense. They are legally free agents who can do as they please. The question is not whether Mr. Sanders would make a better president than Mrs. Clinton or even would he be a better general election candidate against Mr. Trump. The question is why would a superdelegate whose personal career is tied up in the Democratic Party leave a campaign that has a lock on the nomination for one that does not? More prosaically, why get off the winner’s bandwagon? The kind of appeals the Sanders Campaign is making may work on a few, even a few dozen, people. But they need to move hundreds. That just isn’t going to happen.

As for Mr. Trump, he has knocked the Great Right Hope out of the ring. Mr. Cruz had hoped to stop The Donald in Indiana, and he failed to take a single delegate. In his teary-eyed concession speech, he was gracious, but earlier in the day, he told the press exactly what he thought of the now presumptive nominee. Among the terms used were pathological liar, narcissist, serial philanderer and utterly amoral. One expects to see sections of his rant in Democratic commercials this autumn. Clearly, the events of the last month or two have poisoned the relationship between the two men to an incredible degree.

That is seriously bad for Mr. Trump. Ted Cruz, who is exactly wrong about almost every major policy issue the nation faces, represents a sizeable portion of the Republican base. Some of them will, as Republicans usually do, fall in line behind the nominee. Others, though, may well take their cue from Senator Cruz; what will he do? One is almost certain that he will not campaign for Mr. Trump. He may well turn up to Republican events for congressional candidates, but he isn’t going to help a man who has accused his father of being involved in the JFK assassination. The best Mr. Trump can hope for is Mr. Cruz and some of his fans sitting on their hands this November.

The worst outcome, and it is not implausible, would be for Mr. Cruz to endorse the Constitutional Party (a paleo-conservative operation) and its candidates Darrell Castle for President and Scott Bradley for VP. The party is on the ballot in just 18 states with another 6 pending. And those states are mostly Republican territory. Mr. Trump has no path to the White House if the right is split and he loses in swing states like Florida, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa where the conservative can vote for the CP. Worse still, this could put places like Arkansas in play.

Mr. Trump won the GOP nomination with a scorched-earth approach. The trouble with that is that is has comes with a heavy cost in damaged relationships on the right. The GOP’s Humpty-Dumpty may never be put together again.