May 3, 2016
Ted Cruz longed for a head-to-head matchup with Donald Trump and got it in Indiana, but the result cracked open the Texas senator’s narrow voter appeal, according to Republican primary exit polls.
Trump swept almost every category of voter, as he has in most other primary states surveyed, showing the limits of Cruz’s conservative and social-issues message, according to exit polls conducted for the television networks and the Associated Press.
Bright spots for Cruz were limited: He won more than half of the “very conservative” voters and almost two-thirds of those who attend religious services more than once a week.
Cruz also won the youngest voters, the 17- to 24-year-olds, and almost half of those with post-graduate degrees.
But those voter categories are slim compared with Trump’s sweep across the other age, education and income levels, leaving Cruz with a narrow swath of backers. Trump even won evangelicals, once a core Cruz constituency.
Perhaps most challenging for the Republican Party now is to shift to a general election message that aligns with Trump supporters. Trump did not win the ideological purists, but rather those who identify as “somewhat conservative” or “moderate.”