Both front-runners – Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton – lost in Wisconsin.
This state may be a turning point against the Republican Pinocchio as well.
Trump’s poll numbers took a nose dive as he made one blunder after another, and it was clear that Wisconsin’s Republicans were not so smitten with the real-estate mogul.
Clinton had actually moved on to the next state, New York, and never really campaigned that aggressively in Wisconsin in the first place.
- Ted Cruz outperformed the expectations of polls, defeating Trump with 48% to 35 %. John Kasich got 14% of the votes.
- Cruz nearly capturing a majority despite the nagging presence of a third candidate, John Kasich. The result wins Cruz about 30 of Wisconsin’s 42 delegates.
- That brings Cruz to about 514 delegates total, compared to Trump’s 740, with 888 delegates still to be awarded in the remaining primaries. The magic number on the Republican side to win the nomination outright is 1,237. It seems now less likely Trump will reach this safe number before.
Cruz, as you could expect, painted his win as a watershed moment in the race. “Tonight is a turning point,” he said at a victory rally in Milwaukee. “It is a rallying cry. It is a call from the hard-working men and women of Wisconsin to the people of America: We have a choice, a real choice.”
Trump, on the other hand, was uncharacteristically quiet, even for a defeat. He didn’t even make a televised appearance, instead issuing a statement denouncing “Lyin’ Ted,” his usual nickname for Cruz.
“Ted Cruz is worse than a puppet – he is a Trojan horse, being used by the party bosses attempting to steal the nomination from Mr. Trump,” said Trump in a written statement. “We have total confidence that Mr. Trump will go on to win in New York, where he holds a substantial lead in all the polls, and beyond.”
There are 16 states to go on the Republican side. Some of them, like Indiana, award all their delegates to whomever wins the largest share of votes overall, while others, such as New York, give opportunities for more proportional wins.
That leaves Trump needing some 500 additional delegates to secure the nomination, more than half of those remaining. That is far from easy, and that is part of why Wisconsin’s results are especially important.
The math for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, is far less daunting.
But Wisconsin is yet another reminder that she performs horribly with young and white voters, particularly men but women as well.
- Her lead is stronger in large part because the Democratic Party has so many superdelegates, often public officials who don’t have to vote in line with the actual results in their state. She has 469 pledged superdelegates to Sanders’ 31, which brings her lead to 1,743 to 1,025, about 600 shy of what she needs to win with 2,000 delegates left remaining.
- The problem for Sanders is that, often times, even in his wins Clinton amasses significant numbers of delegates because of the rules of Democratic primaries. In Wisconsin, for instance, he won 45 pledged delegates after beating Clinton by 13 percentage points, but Clinton still won about 31 delegates.
Clinton can keep losing but still win enough delegates to take her to the 2,383 needed to secure the nomination. Her superdelegates and proportional wins help her do that. All of this is why mainstream media outlets still haven’t strayed from the narrative that Clinton is the likely nominee. She can keep losing states and still come out the eventual victor; it just won’t be pretty or inspiring, and it may well come with large help from these superdelegates, who are the definition of the “establishment.”
So, where does this leave us? It ensures that the Republican campaign will remain the one to watch. A bruising, district-by-district delegate fight is on. It will be ugly, scorched-earth stuff. Because Republicans who don’t want Trump to be the nominee – and there are many, many of those, based on polling – are aiming to siphon off as many delegates for Cruz as possible.
Simply denying Trump a majority could be enough to deny him the nomination, even if he still has the most delegates, which will likely still be the case.
In New York, for instance, the rules dictate that a candidate who wins a majority in a congressional district gets all three delegates from that district, but if the candidate doesn’t win a majority the second-place finisher gets one of those three delegates.
Cruz is hoping to deny Trump a majority in as many congressional districts in his home state of New York as possible, because in the end that may be enough. If Trump fails to secure a majority at the Republican convention in July, delegates many delegates will be able to vote for whomever they please, and Cruz is well positioned to pick them up.
Cruz just made his case as the alternative to Trump way stronger with his decisive victory in Wisconsin. Republican voters who are embracing the anyone-but-Trump strategy can now be more easily persuaded to put their Trust in Cruz, even if they can’t actually stand the Texas senator.