In theory, Ted Cruz’s best states are behind him. But at the Detroit debate, Cruz was clearly the class of the field and it’s clear that no one should count him out as the delegate race moves into its next phase.
The delegate math is complicated, but the basic gist goes something like this: Donald Trump has a commanding lead at the moment, but it is not a given that he will reach the 1,237 threshold he needs to clinch a majority. Simply put, Trump has failed to break through the ceiling of support he’s held since New Hampshire even as the field has consolidated. While he will be helped by winner-take-all states, where he can sweep full slates of delegates even with his plurality, he may be hurt by closed-primary states, where only Republicans vote. So his path is more challenging than it appears.
Cruz’s path is more challenging still. But tonight’s strong performance can only help Cruz—both with voters and with the party regulars who would play a big role in deciding the nominee should there be a brokered convention.