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Hoosier primary results could shape the rest of the White House race

The Indiana primary marks a crucial test for trailing GOP contender Sen. Ted Cruz, who could see his faltering campaign renewed by a win or obliterated by a loss there. Judy Woodruff talks to Brandon Smith of Indiana Public Broadcasting for more on what’s at stake in the Hoosier State.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Now back to Indiana and today's crucial primary vote.

    We're joined by Brandon Smith of Indiana Public Broadcasting.

    So, Brandon, we talked to you last week, and I think a lot of us thought the Republican race couldn't get any rougher, but, apparently, it is. What's the state of that race right now?

  • BRANDON SMITH, Indiana Public Broadcasting:

    Well, certainly, I don't know if we can say anything new from Donald Trump's side. Some would call what he said outlandish, what he's been — this whole JFK assassination connection between Cruz's father.

    But, certainly, Cruz's reaction is something we haven't quite seen before, and what some think is a hint of frustration, certainly, and perhaps even some desperation.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Why are people saying that?

  • BRANDON SMITH:

    Well, this is high noon for Ted Cruz, I mean, and he's made it that way. He's made it very clear that Indiana is the time. It's the place to — if he's going to make an impact in this race in stopping Donald Trump from the nomination, that Indiana is the place to do it.

    He set himself up for some pretty big stakes here. And yet just about every poll we have seen has him trailing.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    What is your understanding from your — and from your reporting, Brandon Smith, on what is driving the Trump vote? Who is supporting Donald Trump and why?

  • BRANDON SMITH:

    A lot of new voters.

    I have talked to county clerks around the state who say they have seen record numbers in some cases of new registrations, brand-new voters who haven't vote before. So that's certainly part of it. It's also people who aren't the evangelical vote that Ted Cruz brings out, but are Republicans and concerned chiefly with economic issues, how the manufacturing industry is in this state.

    And that's something that Donald Trump speaks a lot to.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    What about on the Cruz side? What do you see driving his vote?

  • BRANDON SMITH:

    Some of it is, like we — like I just said, the evangelical vote that he brings out, and it's certainly strong in some parts of this state.

    There's also no small part of that crowd who's in it to stop Trump, some Kasich supporters who say, I'm here to stop Trump, I'm voting for Cruz. That's some of it. But it doesn't look like it will be enough.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    How much is organization going to matter, do you think, when they count the votes tonight?

  • BRANDON SMITH:

    I'm not sure how much it will end up mattering, because the best organization is probably Ted Cruz. He certainly spent the most time here. He's gone all — he's blanketed the state. It's been quite the barnstorming tour of Indiana.

    And yet he is still probably — it looks like he's going to lose, or at least not get a very big vote here. So, I'm not sure how much the organization will end up mattering.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Well, let me ask you now about the Democrats. If you believe the polls, that one is much closer. What does it look like to you?

  • BRANDON SMITH:

    That's the way it's looking here too. And it looks to be an echo of 2008, in which Hillary Clinton beat then candidate Barack Obama by a pretty narrow margin.

    It looks to be heading in the same direction here. Bernie Sanders certainly drives out a lot of young people. Turnout has been high around the state so far in both early voting and what we have seen at the polls today. So that will certainly help him, too, if it's a lot of young people out there voting.

    But it looks to be a pretty close margin, though Hillary is expected by people here to win.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    What's motivating the Hillary Clinton vote? What do people like about her who say they're going to vote for her?

  • BRANDON SMITH:

    Well, it's a couple things.

    One, I mentioned 2008. This is in many ways a Clinton state in that respect. She spent a lot of time here back then, and people remember that. She has a lot of support from the so-called party establishment. A lot of big-time Democratic leaders in this state threw their support behind Hillary Clinton.

    And some of it is also those economic issues, but it's the idea that Hillary's ideas, Hillary's plans are perhaps a little more achievable than Bernie Sanders'.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And Sanders, just quickly, his support, younger voters?

  • BRANDON SMITH:

    Younger voters, people disillusioned, a little bit of the mirror of Donald Trump's support, some people who don't like the system and think that Bernie will kind of upset the apple cart for good.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Brandon Smith with Indiana Public Broadcasting, we thank you. Good to have you with us again.

  • BRANDON SMITH:

    Thanks very much.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And you can follow the latest results from Indiana on our Web site. Plus, find a profile of one of Pennsylvania's delegates who will cast a critical vote at the GOP Convention in Cleveland. It's the first in our series profiling delegates. You can read that on our home page, PBS.org/NewsHour.

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