So, the Hoosier State held its primary today, and the winners have been declared on both sides: Donald Trump (in yet another double digit victory) and Senator Bernie Sanders. The other big news is that Senator Ted Cruz is suspending his campaign, leaving Trump and Governor John Kasich as the only candidates on the GOP side. Given that Kasich’s performance has been quite lackluster to date, this essentially equates to Cruz conceding the nomination to Trump.
So what’s next for the “Never Trump” movement that had recently rallied around Trump? They can throw everything behind Kasich in a desperate attempt to stop Trump from winning enough delegates before the convention, although this is pretty far-fetched. The Never Trump movement and the party elite (and the considerable overlap) have also had numerous chances to rally around Kasich–back in 2015 when it was clear Jeb Bush’s candidacy wasn’t going anywhere, after Kasich’s second-place finish in New Hampshire, or after Senator Marco Rubio suspended his campaign in March–yet it never happened. I’m honestly not sure why, really–Kasich is electable, fares well in polling matchups against either Democrat, and at minimum would start at an advantage in the key swing state of Ohio. But neither voters nor party leaders really warmed to him–their loss, I suppose.
The other option open to Never Trump will show how genuine their rhetoric is. If, as some say, Trump is in fact uniquely unsuitable for the office of president and would be an unmitigated disaster for the country, then it follows logically that they should endorse the Democratic challenger, or at least publicly state that they will not endorse Trump and will not vote for him, and either abstain or vote Democratic. Will Never Trump do this? I don’t know. My inclination is to not believe that most of them are that genuine in their anti-Trump fervor and that a lot of them will, albeit unenthusiastically, stump and vote for Trump.
On the Democratic side, Sanders surprised with a solid win over Hillary Clinton. He still faces a near-impossible delegate math landscape, but it is a much-needed (for him) win after only taking Rhode Island of the last six primaries in the Northeast (including New York). Some of the states remaining do look favorable to Sanders (West Virginia and Oregon), but California will still be the biggest prize, and nothing from tonight indicates that he could sweep all the delegates there and either win a majority of pledged delegates or force a contested convention (which is a lot harder to do with only 2 candidates). But he’ll undoubtedly remain in the race for the time being.
EDIT: Right after posting this, I found this from the Washington Post. Apparently some of Never Trump are already opting to endorse Clinton…so far. It will be interesting to see if and how this could spread into a schism among conservatives.