Donald Trump ran away with the Indiana GOP primary on Tuesday — thumping Ted Cruz for his seventh straight win and moving to within a near-certainty of the Republican presidential nomination.
Fox News and other networks declared the billionaire real-estate tycoon the winner just moments after the polls closed in the western part of the Hoosier State at 7 p.m. New York time.
Trump took to Twitter minutes later to crow about his big win.
“Thank you Indiana! #Trump2016 #MakeAmericaGreatAgain,” he tweeted.
Another tweet called on Cruz to drop out. “Lyin’ Ted Cruz consistently said that he will, and must, win Indiana,” he tweeted after the results were clear. “He should drop out of the race-stop wasting time & money.”
With just about 15 percent of the vote in, the New York real- estate mogul had a commanding 20-point-plus lead over the Texas senator, and a far larger margin against also-ran Gov. John Kasich.
CNN political director David Chalian said voters’ worries about the economy handed Trump a victory.
“This is a big victory among a huge swath of voters. His message is working,” Chalian said.
Trump won at least 45 delegates in Indiana, putting him on a solid path to get the 1,237 needed to clinch the nomination and avoid a contested convention in Cleveland in July.
Trump needs to win just 43 percent of the remaining delegates to capture the nomination by the end of the primaries on June 7.
Following huge wins in the Northeast in recent weeks, Trump was riding a tidal wave of momentum heading into the Hoosier State contest.
He even took the lead in a hypothetical November race against Hillary Clinton, 41 percent to 39 percent, Rasmussen pollsters said on Monday.
Meanwhile, exit polls in Indiana showed that the economy weighed heavily on the minds of Indiana’s GOP voters as they cast ballots.
More than nine in 10 Republican primary voters said they were either very or somewhat worried about the economy, according to early results from exit polls conducted by Edison Research.
And more establishment Republicans were admitting they might have to hold their noses and back the billionaire should he win the nomination.
“If Trump is the nominee, I’ll cast my vote for him. I’ll support the ticket from top to bottom,” said John Sununu, the former New Hampshire governor and senator who has close ties to the Bush family.
University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato said Cruz was likely finished after Trump’s seventh straight primary win — but predicted he’d stay in the race.
“Oh absolutely, but he’s not going to say that. He’ll say he’s still competitive. The circus will move on,” Sabato said.
As of early Tuesday evening, Trump had 1,041 delegates, Cruz had 565 and Kasich, who stayed on the sidelines during the Indiana race as part of a deal with Cruz, had 152.