Indiana's primary is an important stop along the election path for Donald Trump, as he inches closer to securing enough delegates for the Republican nomination. And it could prove decisive for his biggest opponents: not just Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich, but the larger movement among Republicans to stop The Donald from getting to the White House. "Stop Trump" is an umbrella term for the various efforts Republicans have made to keep Trump from the number of delegates he needs for the nomination. If Sen. Ted Cruz doesn't win the Indiana primary on Tuesday, the "Stop Trump" movement might be on its last leg.
A win in Indiana's winner-take-most contest won't make a Trump nomination inevitable, but it'll sure help him get there. Polling in the days leading up to the primary shows Trump with a 10.8 percent lead over second-place Cruz in the state. Cruz put a ton of effort into Indiana, ranging from TV ads to touring the state by bus, Politico reported. If he can't pull off a win there, many of the donors funding his campaign might start giving up on the candidate, and even the anti-Trump movement in general. Erick Erickson, a Republican activist who assembled an ad hoc anti-Trump team, told Politico, "I think the super donors or the megadonors — they stop spending money. They’re not going to get on board [with] Trump, but they’re not going to continue to invest in what they perceive as a lost cause."
Many of the efforts led by the "Stop Trump" movement have involved the production of anti-Trump and pro-Cruz advertisements. And those take money. Super PACs like Club for Growth and Our Principles have been funding some of these efforts, according to Politico, but if donors lose heart after a loss in Indiana, Cruz might lose that extra support at a time when he needs all he can get.
It's not necessarily the case that the Stop Trump movement wants Cruz to win, or believes he can — mathematically, he can't win enough pledged delegates to at this point. They are looking to Cruz to keep enough delegates away from Trump to prevent him from winning. And if he can't do so in Indiana, donors will have a reason to question their investment in the cause.
NPR reported that Trump had 996 delegates going into Indiana — that's 241 shy of the 1,237 he'll need to win the nomination. With 502 pledged delegates remaining to be won, and many states employing winner-take-all or winner-take-most allocation methods, it is likely that Trump will get what he needs.
Despite the Stop Trump brigade's big-money efforts to take Trump down, he has persevered. Whether the movement will do so, either alongside Cruz or with a different strategy, or whether it fizzles out after Indiana, remains to be seen.