For conservatives hoping to stop Donald Trump from winning the Republican party’s nomination, all eyes are on Indiana.
“If we win Indiana, it’s over!” Trump declared during a rally in Evansville Thursday.
Cruz made a similar case later in the day in South Bend: “It is the common sense and good judgment of the Hoosier state that is the one thing that stands between us and plunging over the cliff.”
It’s do-or-die for those trying to stop Trump: If he wins the state, he’s on a fast track to reaching 1237, the majority of delegates required to lock up the nomination, before July’s party convention. If Cruz wins, his campaign gets a decent-sized pot of delegates and a much-needed injection of momentum, and Trump’s opponents get another shot at forcing a contested convention by keeping Trump under the 1237 threshold.
There are more dollars being spent on advertising in Indiana than there are people living in the state, with a projected $6.7 million exchanging hands in a state of 6.6 million people. During the 2012 general election a total of $300 was spent on three ads in the state won by Governor Mitt Romney.Trump’s campaign is spending nearly a million in the state; while Cruz has spent $1.1 million already and have plans for at least $400,000 more.
Outside money is even more plentiful: The pro-Cruz super PAC Trusted Leadership will spend $1.6 million, mostly in the form of a $1.3 million broadcast buy. Our Principles PAC won’t offer hard numbers, but say they’re putting up a seven-figure broadcast ad buy against Trump, and another anti-Trump group, American Future Fund, is reportedly considering wading back into the fray after sitting out weeks of primaries. Club for Growth Action is spending $1.7 million on broadcast and digital ads, too.
“The mission at this point is to stop Trump from getting to 1237 before the convention, and Indiana is really crucial in that process,” Club for Growth spokesman Doug Sachtleben told MSNBC.
Sachtleben said Indiana’s role is key to sustaining the movement trying to stop Trump.
“The difference Indiana makes is how the stop Trump moves on to California come Wednesday morning. A Cruz victory makes California become a real focal point and the effort I think goes on in a strong way there,” Sachtleben said. If he loses, though, donors may be shy about putting up big dollars to fight the seemingly inevitable nominee.
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“Donors are wont to be careful with their money and they’re looking at it from a very pragmatic point of view,” he said. “It does make it a little bit more challenging.”
Still, Our Principles’ founder Katie Packer denies that Indiana is the last place where Trump can be stopped.
“We have the resources that we need to move forward” after Indiana even if Trump wins, she said, adding that her group “calculated and anticipated for” Trump’s recent sweep of six East Coast states.
“We’re not focused on states, we’re focused on delegates,” she said, insisting that the fight will continue to California no matter what happens in Indiana.
Still, Packer added, “the battle becomes a whole lot tougher if Trump succeeds.”