Elections

Ted Cruz romps to blowout victory in Wisconsin Primary

With the primary season drawing to a close, establishment Republicans are pulling out all the stops to prevent Donald Trump from claiming the Republican nomination. Senator Ted Cruz (R–TX) and Ohio Governor John Kasich continue to campaign in the hopes of forcing a brokered convention: their only hope of capturing the nomination.

On Tuesday, Wisconsin Republicans turned out in what was seen as the point of no return if Trump managed to win the day. Instead, Cruz’s 13.1 percentage point margin of victory transformed the narrative into the latest obstacle to Trump taking command of the Republican Party. Cruz considered the night “a turning point ... [and] a rallying cry” for the hardworking people in America. Cruz earned 36 delegates to reach 517 total delegates. The six delegates Trump obtained increases his total to 743. Trump would need to secure 60 percent of the remaining delegates to win the nomination outright, and Cruz would need 87 percent of them to achieve the same feat. With such high figures needed for victory, the chances of a contested convention continue to increase, no doubt a terrible prospect for the eventual Republican nominee.

A number of forces contributed to Cruz’s victory. Cruz received the endorsement of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, popular among conservatives for limiting the collective bargaining power of public employees. Though Walker’s own presidential aspirations ended before the first votes were cast, he has opposed Trump’s rise to prominence in Republican politics.

A number of conservative radio hosts also sided with Cruz in retaliation against Trump. When Trump called into Charlie Sykes’ show, Sykes criticized him harshly for recent actions. Other radio hosts also urged listeners to turn away from Trump.

The anti-Trump actions in Wisconsin seem to have worked. More than a third of Republicans in exit polling said they were scared of a Trump presidency, and another fifth voiced concern. Cruz, however, is by no means a great fit for all Republican voters. About a quarter of GOP voters indicated they would either vote for former secretary of state Hillary Clinton or a third party candidate if either Trump or Cruz get top billing on the Republican ticket.
Trump was incensed by Cruz’s victory. In a statement released on Tuesday night, the Trump campaign called Cruz “worse than a puppet — he is a Trojan horse, being used by the party bosses attempting to steal the nomination from Mr. Trump.” Trump alleged that Cruz was coordinating with his super PACs, continuing allegations on Cruz’s integrity which have not stopped since the campaign’s tactics to siphon votes from supporters of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson in the Iowa caucus.

In response, Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the Cruz campaign, stated that “Trump has a real problem when he gets his tail kicked.” Miller did not mention the allegation of coordinating with super PACs.

Trump will likely rebound in New York’s April 19 contest, where 95 delegates are up for grabs. The current Real Clear Politics average has him at over 50 percent of the vote. It’s April 26 that could decisively determine whether the Republicans will duke it out into the summer. Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island all vote on that day. The Real Clear Politics average in Pennsylvania has Trump with a 13.4 percentage point edge over Cruz and a 14.4 percentage point lead over Kasich. In Maryland, Trump has a 13 point lead over Cruz and a 14 point lead over Kasich. With sparse polling in the other states indicating support for Trump, it could be the knockout blow Trump needs to secure the nomination. On the other hand, the states could turn against the frontrunner and further prolong the race, potentially denying any candidate the chance to secure the nomination.