Donald Trump steamrolled to victory in Indiana on Tuesday, dealing a devastating defeat to Sen. Ted Cruz and the remaining establishment GOP forces who’d hoped in vain for last-minute salvation from the billionaire businessman.
Networks called the race soon after the final polls closed at 7 p.m., projecting an easy win for Mr. Trump based on exit polling and early returns that showed him winning more than 50 percent of the vote, to Mr. Cruz’s 33 percent.
“Lyin’ Ted Cruz consistently said that he will, and must, win Indiana. If he doesn’t he should drop out of the race — stop wasting time & money,” Mr. Trump said in a Twitter post minutes after the race was called.
Mr. Trump’s victory means he will win most of the state’s 57 delegates to the July nominating convention, further padding his lead and keeping him on track for a first-ballot victory.
Just as important as Mr. Trump’s win was Mr. Cruz’s collapse. The Texas senator had for months insisted he could beat Mr. Trump in a head-to-head contest, but saw his hopes dissipate.
Mr. Cruz’s campaign insisted he’ll stay in the race, but his argument for doing so looked much weaker after he failed in conservative Indiana, where he had the backing of the GOP governor and was aided by establishment anti-Trump forces.
Beyond the results, Mr. Cruz also appeared to come unglued while campaigning this week, getting baited into a back-and-forth last week with protesters and, on Tuesday, unloading months of frustration on Mr. Trump.
He called the businessman and reality TV star a “bully,” a proud “serial philanderer,” a “narcissist” and a “pathological liar,” and pointed to Mr. Trump’s own admitted struggle with a venereal disease as reason he can’t be elected.
“As the father of two young girls, the idea of our two daughters coming home and repeating what that man says horrifies me,” Mr. Cruz told reporters, recounting in detail the parts of Mr. Trump’s behavior that offended him.
Mr. Trump said Mr. Cruz has become “unhinged” as he’s seen his candidacy rejected by voters.
“Today’s ridiculous outburst only proves what I have been saying for a long time, that Ted Cruz does not have the temperament to be the president of the United States,” Mr. Trump said.
Indiana was supposed to be the comeback for the forces aligned to stop Mr. Trump. Mr. Cruz had struck a deal with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the other major GOP candidate, who agreed not to actively pursue votes in the state, giving anti-Trump voters a clear alternative.
But instead it turned into another rout for Mr. Trump — the seventh in a row.
The race now turns to Nebraska and West Virginia next week, and Oregon the week after.
• David Sherfinski and Seth McLaughlin contributed to this article.