Sen. Ted Cruz has won more delegates than GOP front-runner Donald Trump since Sen. Marco Rubio ended his presidential bid, helping to validate his argument that he could beat Trump once the race consolidated.
Rubio dropped out of the race after losing Florida on March 15. Since then, Cruz has won 77 delegates, compared with 65 for Trump. This does not count this past weekend’s results from North Dakota, where most of Cruz’s preferred delegates were elected, because they aren’t formally bound to vote for him.
To be sure, it’s worth adding a number of caveats. There is a small sample size of states, and nearly all of Cruz’s post March 15th delegate haul has come from two states — Utah and Wisconsin — that were already seen as less hospitable to Trump. As the race moves to the Northeast, kicked off by Trump’s home state of New York on April 19th, the numbers could quickly change.
But now it’s become pretty clear how the thinned out field has benefited Cruz. Trump is no longer able to hide from scrutiny under the camouflage of a crowded field, forcing him to flail around. Cruz was humanized by Trump’s attacks on his wife Heidi, and took full advantage of Trump’s stumble on abortion. Since Rubio left, Cruz has demonstrated that he’s been able to consolidate the anti-Trump vote.
All of this will be important toward claiming legitimacy heading into the convention. If Cruz can show that the bulk of Trump’s delegate lead came when the field was fractured, but that he did better once it consolidated, his case for the nomination going into Cleveland will become much stronger.
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