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Ted Cruz Eyes Indiana Upset After Trump's Big Night

Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz has a few strategies left to employ ahead of the Indiana Primary next week, but the Hoosier State is likely his last fire line. (Reuters photo)

As expected, Donald Trump dominated the "Amtrak Primary" in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island on Tuesday.

Now, all eyes are on Indiana, where voters head to the polls next Tuesday. It will be the first test of the new "Divide and Conquer" approach U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich agreed to as a means to stop Trump from winning the GOP nomination.

The Hoosier State primary is also likely to be Cruz's last fire line in his battle for the Republican presidential nomination. If Trump wins there, it becomes increasingly likely he will reach 1,237 delegates ahead of the GOP national convention in July.

Here are three things to expect in the next seven days as Cruz prepares to pull off an Indiana upset:

The Pennsylvania 54

Only 17 of Pennsylvania's 71 delegates were bound to the winner of the presidential preference vote Tuesday. The remaining 54 were directly elected in each of the Keystone State's 18 congressional districts. By rule, they are unbound and appeared on the ballot as "uncommitted," so they can vote for anyone they want at the national convention. The Cruz campaign has swept most of the uncommitted delegates so far, but the Trump camp is expected to fight for the remaining delegates going forward. If Cruz is able to sway a significant number of these delegates, you will be sure to hear about it.

The Running Mate

Traditionally, presidential candidates don't select their running mates until just before the convention and wait to announce their choice at the convention. Cruz is pushing for an open convention, because he is mathematically eliminated from winning a delegate majority ahead of the July gathering in Cleveland. There is considerable rumbling that Cruz may announce his running mate prior to the Indiana primary in order to have one extra voice hammering away at Trump. Among the speculative "front-runners" are former rivals Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina, as well as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. Adding a running mate early may help in attacking Trump, but it nearly doubles the campaign's "burn rate" of campaign finances in what has already been a costly primary fight.

The Kitchen Sink

Every piece of opposition research the Cruz campaign has on Trump, save perhaps the most brutal personal attacks, has likely been thrown at the GOP front-runner. Cruz himself will have to weigh whether or not he's willing to throw in the "kitchen sink" in an effort to thwart a Trump nomination. On one hand, it would probably guarantee Trump doesn't get to 1,237 delegates, but on the other, it could potentially backfire and damage Cruz' own political career, which is still really only just getting started. It will be readily apparent very soon what the senator decides to do.

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