A pattern is starting to emerge that holds both promise and peril for Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump:
Trump does better in “open” primary contests where members of either party can vote, while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tends to do better in "closed" contests limited only to registered Republicans.
The pattern could lend credence to Cruz’s claim that he’s the “consistent conservative” in the race, and continue to pose challenges for Trump as more closed contests – including the critical Florida primary – loom on the election calendar.
But if Trump indeed is being boosted by crossover voters, it suggests he’s a stronger general election candidate than Democrats give him credit for.
“Trump’s got crossover appeal,” said Christopher C. Hull, former chief of staff for Cruz backer and Iowa Rep. Steve King.
To date, Trump has won a dozen contests, seven of which were open to voters regardless of party affiliation – and two of which have a hybrid system. He has won only three contests that were limited to registered Republicans – Nevada, Kentucky and Louisiana. (His victories in the latter two states were relatively tight.)
By contrast, five of Cruz’s six victories came in closed or semi-closed contests. The only exception was Texas, his home state.