Five takeaways from Indiana

Five takeaways from Indiana
© Getty Images

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race Scott Atlas resigns as coronavirus adviser to Trump MORE and Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Overnight Defense: Defense bill among Congress's year-end scramble | Iranian scientist's assassination adds hurdles to Biden's plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fire Biden faces new Iran challenges after nuclear scientist killed MORE won the Republican and Democratic presidential primaries, respectively, in Indiana on Tuesday. The results from the Hoosier State resonated deeply across both parties. What were the big takeaways from the night? 

Trump will be the Republican nominee 

Mocked as unserious when he first entered the presidential race 11 months ago, Trump is now the presumptive GOP nominee. It has been an extraordinary journey by any measure.  


Trump’s only real rival, Texas Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration proceeds with rollback of bird protections despite objections | Trump banking proposal on fossil fuels sparks backlash from libertarians | EU 2019 greenhouse gas emissions down 24 percent Trump's NATO ambassador pledges 'seamless' transition to Biden administration Potential 2024 Republicans flock to Georgia amid Senate runoffs MORE, withdrew from the race as results were still coming in from Indiana. Now, the complicated calculations about delegate numbers and a possible contested convention no longer matter.  

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is set to remain in the race, but he is a marginal figure at this point.  

Barring some cataclysmic event, the 2016 presidential election will be between Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Katko fends off Democratic opponent in New York race Harris County GOP chairman who made racist Facebook post resigns MORE

The effort to unify the GOP has begun 

Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, tweeted on Tuesday night that Trump was now the presumptive nominee and that “we all need to unite and focus on defeating @Hillary Clinton.” He then added the hashtag “#NeverClinton,” a clear but implicit rebuke to the Never Trump movement of conservatives who have vowed to oppose Trump under all circumstances.  

Trump, speaking at his election-night event at Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan, insisted, “We are going to bring unity to the Republican Party.” The business mogul was also gracious to Cruz, who had withdrawn from the race only moments before, referring to him as “one hell of a competitor” with “an amazing future.” 

Given the tensions between Trump and Cruz as late as Tuesday — and between Trump and Priebus — those are all hopeful signs for those in the GOP who want to present a unified front for the fall. 

Still, real unity among conservatives will be hard to accomplish. Mark Salter, a close confidant of 2008 GOP nominee Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcCain, Kristol battle over Tanden nomination Biden's favorability rating rises while Trump's slips: Gallup The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Coast-to-coast fears about post-holiday COVID-19 spread MORE (Ariz.) tweeted criticism of Trump earlier on Tuesday and added, “I’m with her,” an apparent reference to his preference for Clinton in a general election. That’s just one example of the depths of the wounds Trump's campaign has inflicted on some in the party. 

Cruz will be back 

Cruz’s decision to drop out came as a surprise to most observers. The Texas senator has never been known for an inclination to concede or compromise. But he said, amid sounds of distress from his supporters, he saw no rationale to continue a quest when “that path has been foreclosed.” 

But Cruz also said, “I am not suspending our fight for liberty.” He added, “I’m not suspending our fight to defend the Constitution, to defend Judeo-Christian values that built America. Our movement will continue.” 

Cruz also invoked the memory of former President Reagan’s loss in his battle for the GOP nomination in 1976. That year, Reagan lost a close battle to oust incumbent President Gerald Ford. But Reagan came back four years later to win the nomination and the presidency. Cruz, who is just 45 years old, evidently has similar designs. 

Sanders isn’t going anywhere 

Sanders pulled off a sizable surprise, defeating Clinton in Indiana by around 5 points. That was unwelcome news for the Clinton campaign, which hoped Sanders was fading away as his chances of winning enough delegates slimmed and his fundraising began to flag. But now Sanders and his supporters have a fresh jolt of momentum. 

The delegate picture remains virtually unchanged. Sanders looks set for a net gain of around six delegates from the Hoosier State, a margin that hardly begins to dent Clinton’s advantage.  

But it now seems clear that the Vermont senator will stay in the race at least until June 7, when California and five other states are set to vote. Indeed, Sanders vowed to pull off "one of the great political upsets in the history of the United States" and defeat Clinton.

That obstinacy will irk the Clinton campaign, which will have to expend some effort fending him off, even as the former secretary of State would much rather turn all her fire on Trump for the general election battle ahead. 

GOP congressional leaders have a tightrope to walk 

What do Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate approves two energy regulators, completing panel On The Money: Biden announces key members of economic team | GOP open to Yellen as Treasury secretary, opposed to budget pick | GAO: Labor Department 'improperly presented' jobless data Senate GOP open to confirming Yellen to be Biden's Treasury secretary MORE (R-Ky.) and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan calls for Trump to accept results: 'The election is over' Bottom line Democratic anger rises over Trump obstacles to Biden transition MORE (R-Wis.) do now?  

At the least, the two men will be expected to make statements in support of their party’s presumptive nominee. Yet their calculations are complicated by the fact that many of their fellow Republicans believe Trump could be toxic to their chances of winning in November. 

The dilemma is especially acute for McConnell, for whom the math is unforgiving. Republicans are defending 24 Senate seats this fall; Democrats are defending just 10. Deepening the peril for the GOP, seven of its contested seats are in states President Obama carried in 2012.

Every move McConnell and Ryan make regarding Trump will be intensely scrutinized — not least by their own colleagues.