Down in the polls and with zero margin for error heading into Tuesday’s crucial Indiana primary, Ted Cruz could be forgiven for seeing a silver lining in his apparent strength with unbound Republican delegates.
Until Donald Trump’s romp through the Northeast last Tuesday abruptly changed the subject, the political world was captivated — and Trump supporters were infuriated — by the Cruz campaign’s successful effort to elect large blocs of friendly delegates at a series of state-party conventions.
But friendly delegates are as subject to shifts in the race’s momentum as anyone else, and Cruz’s strength with some of these crucial first-ballot convention voters may be overstated — particularly in North Dakota, where his campaign declared victory after filling 18 of 25 unbound delegate slots with its chosen candidates at the April 3 convention. Those delegates are vital to Cruz’s quest to deny his rival the 1,237 delegates he’ll need on the first ballot in Cleveland. But as they’ve watched Cruz struggle to tread water in a primary increasingly dominated by Trump, many of them, wary of a bitter convention battle that could rend the party at its seams, are rethinking their commitment to the Texas senator.