By Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune, texastribune.org
Editor’s note: This story has been updated throughout.
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz lost all five states that held primaries Tuesday, an expected string of defeats that nonetheless put frontrunner Donald Trump closer to the nomination.
As soon as polls closed Tuesday night, the billionaire was projected to win three of the states: Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Similar outcomes were soon projected for Delaware and Rhode Island.
With well over half the vote in in all five states, Cruz was solidly in third place in four of them, trailing Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The lone exception was Pennsylvania, where Cruz was placing second with 21 percent, two points ahead of Kasich.
Cruz has already moved on from the Northeast, going all in on the next primary, which is being held May 3 in Indiana. At a rally in the Hoosier State as Tuesday’s results were coming in, Cruz acknowledged Trump was “expected to have a good night” and dismissed what he said would be a rush by the media to crown Trump the nominee.
“The media has told us the candidates in this race, the Republican and the Democrat, they’re both going to be New York liberals, but I’ve got good news for you: Tonight this campaign moves back to more favorable terrain,” Cruz told supporters inside Knightstown’s Hoosier Gym, best known for its role in the iconic basketball movie of the same name. “Tonight, this campaign moves back to Indiana and Nebraska and North Dakota and Montana and Washington and California.”
Appearing in New York to claim his sweep, Trump declared the race effectively over, calling himself the presumptive nominee. The billionaire also reiterated his criticism of the deal Cruz and Kasich have struck to split three upcoming primaries, calling it a “very weak signal.” Trump also spoke dismissively of Cruz’s increasingly public search for a running mate, saying the senator is “wasting his time.”
Cruz had entered Tuesday expecting a series of defeats, telling audiences as far back as a week ago that it would likely be another successful election day for Trump. In the run-up to the primaries, he had largely written off three of the five states, instead focusing on Maryland and Pennsylvania.
In Maryland, with 64 percent of the vote in, Cruz was coming in third with 19 percent and on track to collect zero delegates. The results were less clear in Pennsylvania, where Cruz’s campaign was hoping to have a significant amount of supporters among the 54 uncommitted delegates the state will send to the GOP’s national convention in Cleveland.
The one place where Cruz stood a chance of winning committed delegates was Rhode Island. By cracking 10 percent statewide and in one out of two congressional districts, he was on track to score three delegates.
By the end of Tuesday night, Trump had a 390-delegate lead over Cruz, 950 to 560, according to the Associated Press. Kasich had 153.
Cruz is scheduled to continue campaigning Wednesday in Indiana, with a retail stop scheduled for the morning and a rally for the evening in Indianapolis. He is expected to spend much of time in the Hoosier State between now and its primary.
The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.