Washington: Billionaire Donald Trump on Tuesday won the crucial Republican primary held in the mid-western US state of Indiana, while Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz bowed out of the race after his defeat in the GOP’s primary.
Trump’s big win has increased his likelihood of clinching the party’s presidential nomination outright, while Cruz’s defeat delivered a heavy blow to Republicans currently eyeing a contested convention this summer to snatch the party’s nomination from Trump.
If Trump secures the Republican Party’s nomination, he will be the first major-party nominee who has not served in elected office since Dwight Eisenhower in 1952.
Eisenhower was a five-star general and the commander of Allied Forces in Europe during World War II.
By 8.00 p.m. (local time), one hour after the poll closed, partial results showed Trump had won 53 percent of the vote, almost 20 points ahead of Cruz.
The victory in Indiana will make Trump’s total delegate count exceed 1,000 with the likely prospect of reaching the magic number of 1,237 needed to avoid a contested party convention and dashing hopes for the anti-Trump movement to deny the real estate mogul the nomination.
Cruz at a rally in Indiana said: “From the beginning, I’ve said I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory.”
“Tonight, I’m sorry to say it appears that the path has been foreclosed.”
Though Cruz had already been mathematically eliminated from reaching the 1,237 delegates required to win the nomination on the first ballot at July’s GOP convention before Tuesday’s Indiana primary.
Cruz and the anti-Trump movement within the party had for long hoped to prevent the front-runner from getting the 1,237 delegates and create a contested convention where other candidates might get nominated after the first round of voting.
However, after the suspension of Cruz’s candidacy, there left no doubt that Trump would be the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee.
The once crowded Republican field has dwindled. Despite his flagging campaign and winning only one contest, Ohio Governor John Kasich made it clear on Tuesday that he would stay in the race.
However, the Kasich campaign’s hope to force Trump into a contested convention in July became dimmer after the New York billionaire’s sweeping victory.
With his big win in Indiana, Trump is guaranteed at least 30 of the state’s 57 delegates up for grabs.
However, Trump is unlikely to formally clinch the nomination until June 7, when California and five other states vote and a total of 303 delegate will be up for grabs.
In order to win the GOP nomination, a candidate must win 1,237 delegates. Trump entered the contest on Tuesday with 956 pledged delegates and another 41 unpledged ones, while Kasich, his only rival now, had only 153.