Talk about diminished expectations.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, once believed to be the candidate to dominate the South, won only in his delegate-rich home state and Oklahoma tonight, a result that would’ve been regarded as a disappointment just a month ago. But in the wake of Donald Trump’s dominance of the GOP field, Mr. Cruz will likely claim enough of a mandate to stay in the race to keep battling the real estate billionaire.
Mr. Cruz has now won three states, which is two more than Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, the establishment favorite. Where Mr. Cruz goes from here is not exactly clear. Unlike Mr. Trump, he has not proven he can win beyond the most conservative and evangelical areas, and he isn’t projected to be a serious competitor for Ohio and Florida, two large critical states that go to the polls in two weeks.
As a hardline conservative, Mr. Cruz invested a great amount of cash and energy in the so-called SEC primary, banking on big wins across the South to put him far ahead of the field. But just as he’s done to every other Republican, Mr. Trump eclipsed him there, storming to victory in Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, Arkansas and Tennessee.
There were some bright spots for Mr. Cruz. While his strongest states probably voted tonight, he scooped up the second-most delegates of any candidate. For this alone, he will be able to tell his supporters it’s worth fighting on.
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.