Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz signs autographs at a campaign rally in Lafayette, Indiana.
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz signs autographs at a campaign rally in Lafayette, Indiana. AJ Mastap

It’s crunch time for Cruz

BY TED Cruz's own admission, this is make or break.

As the Texas senator campaigns across Indiana ahead of the state's primary tonight (Australian time), he has warned supporters he is fighting for the future of his presidential hopes.

If Republican frontrunner Donald Trump wins the state, the battle for the coveted nomination is effectively over.

"I can't emphasise enough how important the vote in Indiana is going to be and, frankly, it could be the deciding factor," Senator Cruz said last week.

"Make no mistake, Indiana is absolutely pivotal. The bad news is that if Trump wins all the delegates in Indiana, his nomination could be all but determined."

Sen Cruz is desperate to stop the New York tycoon from securing the 1237 delegates he needs to secure the party's nomination ahead of its convention in July.

Mr Trump has 996 delegates, Sen Cruz has 565 and 571 are still to be decided.

It is mathematically impossible for Mr Cruz to win the nomination before the gathering in Cleveland - his only hope is forcing a second round of voting at the convention, where he hopes many would back him.

If Mr Trump wins Indiana and its 57 delegates, it becomes increasingly likely he will be the Republican Party candidate.

A devout Christian, Sen Cruz has been reaching out to Indiana's many social conservatives - in recent days inciting controversy over transgender people's use of toilets.

Several states have passed laws that demand a person only use the toilet designated for the gender of their birth rather than how they identify.

Campaigners for LGBT rights say the laws are discriminatory, but Sen Cruz has been telling voters he supports the measures.

"Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both agree that grown men should be allowed to use the little girls' restroom," he said last week on a campaign stop.

In another attempt to reach out to conservatives, and to seek to highlight Mr Trump's unpopularity among women voters, Sen Cruz named Carly Fiorina as his running mate, a step that is unprecedented at this stage in the campaign.

Although more than 400 delegates behind, Sen Cruz insists he has a viable route to victory.

"It's going to be a contested convention," he said on the weekend.

An average of Indiana polls collated by Real Clear Politics puts Mr Trump at 39 points, ahead of Mr Cruz at 35 and Ohio Governor John Kasich at 17.

The same collating technique has Hillary Clinton, who has the Democrat nomination virtually wrapped up, ahead of rival Bernie Sanders 50-44 in Indiana.

Mrs Clinton's campaign is already looking towards the general election, most likely against Mr Trump.