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Ted Cruz dropped out because Donald Trump was shredding his reputation

Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

After Ted Cruz lost the Indiana primary Tuesday night, he announced that he would suspend his presidential campaign, rather than fight it out with Donald Trump for another month in hopes of denying him a delegate majority.

To understand why, just take a look at this chart from Gallup, which shows Cruz's reputation among Republican voters absolutely nosediving in the past few weeks:


For most of the presidential race, Cruz was well-liked among Republican voters — he was much better-liked than Trump was, in fact, even if he wasn't beating him in the polls.

But things have changed. Cruz's reputation for honesty — something he views as crucial to his appeal, as you can see with his campaign slogan TrusTED — has come under assault from Trump, who's dubbed him "Lyin' Ted." And Cruz's efforts to win delegate slots for his supporters just resulted in Trump accusing him of trying to "steal" the nomination.

The accusations seem to have taken a toll. Indiana once looked like a potentially winnable state for Cruz — but he didn't even come close, losing by about 16 points. For some insight into why, on Sunday the Washington Post's Sean Sullivan interviewed one Cruz volunteer who said many Indiana voters she spoke to "are concerned with the nickname he’s been given — 'Lyin’ Ted,'" and another who said that "there is some idea that Ted Cruz is rigging the system."

Cruz is only 45 years old, and he could well run again for president later on. So seeing his favorability numbers plunge so badly could well have have convinced him that extending his quixotic fight, and enduring Trump's character attacks, for another month simply wasn't worth it. Better to live and fight another day.

Watch: Donald Trump spoke about Ted Cruz during his victory speech

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