Tuesday’s Indiana Republican Primary is being labeled as a sort of last stand for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. After frontrunner Donald Trump ran off a string of wins in Northeast and Middle Atlantic states, the Hoosier State brings the fight back to the Midwest, near Wisconsin, where Cruz had his biggest win in 2016.
And there are a few points in Cruz’s favor, including Indiana’s higher number of evangelical Christians, but demographic data suggests there are a number of potential difficulties for him as well.
In many ways, Indiana looks more like neighboring Kentucky, where Mr. Trump won in a caucus on March 5, than it does Wisconsin.
Educational Attainment (College Grads)
In Indiana, 23.6 percent of the population has at least a bachelor’s degree. That is almost four points lower than Wisconsin, where 27.4 percent have that level of educational attainment. Indiana’s education profile is actually close to Kentucky, where 21.8 percent are college grads.
The education numbers matter because Trump consistently does better with voters who do not have a college degree. It is one of the hallmarks of his 2016 coalition. In Pennsylvania, Maryland and Connecticut he beat his state percentage among those without a college degree, winning more than 60 percent of that bloc in each state.
Economics and Unemployment
Another key to the Trump coalition so far has been places that are struggling economically. Indiana is not hurting badly, but it isn’t thriving either – and it’s not doing as well as Wisconsin is.
Indiana’s unemployment rate of 5 percent is higher than 30 other states and is notably higher than Wisconsin’s (4.5 percent). And the state’s per capita income of $24,953 is $3,000 below Wisconsin’s $27,907. Again, the per capita income figure is closer to Kentucky’s $23,741.
That would seem to equal an advantage for Trump.
A consistent trend in the early southern Republican contests was Trump’s strength in states with larger African-Americans populations. He did better with white voters who lived in close proximity to black populations. Think of states like South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi.
Here again there are differences with Wisconsin that seem to benefit Trump. Indiana is almost 10 percent African-American (9.6 percent). Wisconsin is only 6.6 percent African-American. In Kentucky, again, where Mr. Trump won, the figure is 8.2 percent.
Do those numbers mean Trump is a lock to win Tuesday? Anyone predicting that hasn’t paid attention to 2016. But the numbers here, and the poll trends, suggest that Indiana isn’t a lot like Wisconsin in a lot of ways.
It may be a better place for Cruz to make a stand than, say, Pennsylvania or Maryland, but it’s still not especially good ground for him.