Clinton Can Shrug Off Wisconsin. Trump Can't.
The big wins for Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz in Wisconsin on Tuesday demonstrated why Hillary Clinton has an unbeatable lead on the Democratic side, and Cruz has a solid shot at heading the Republican ticket.
The demographics of Wisconsin were bad for Clinton and Donald Trump, the delegate leaders. And although they’re still counting votes, Cruz’s margin of victory is likely to be only a little larger than Sanders'.
On the Democratic side, it's strictly a matter of proportional representation. So by getting about 56 percent of the vote, Sanders will wind up with about 56 percent of Wisconsin’s delegates. For Republicans, Wisconsin is a winner-take-most state, and it appears that Cruz will win either 36 or 39 of the 42 delegates, a huge haul.
And more winner-take-most and winner-take-all states are coming for Republicans. Some of them appear to be likely Trump states. Cruz has now consolidated most of the anti-Trump vote, meaning that he may wind up being competitive in some states where he hasn’t done well in polls so far. (John Kasich got around 15 percent in Wisconsin.)
Clinton remains well ahead of where she has to be to win the nomination. And although Trump has a solid delegate lead over Cruz, he keeps dropping behind where he has to be. Looking at David Wasserman’s projections at FiveThirtyEight, Trump fell 10 delegates behind pace in North Dakota, nine in Utah, three in American Samoa. In Wisconsin, according to Wasserman, he needed to win 18 delegates to stay on pace, but he’s only going to get three or six.
By contrast, Clinton probably will wind up about where she was expected to be in Wisconsin. Sanders did a good job of running up the score in caucus states, but those are just about done, and he isn't having the same success in primaries. He only wins the states that set up well for him, and not by large enough margins.
Trump could make up the setbacks in New York, California, or a few other states. He needs to win about 60 percent of the remaining bound delegates to reach the winning number of 1,237 in the final primaries on June 7. Clinton, who is well ahead in the polls in several large remaining states, including New York, still could retain a pledged delegate lead if she loses, as long as the losses aren’t landslides.
For Republicans, New York, in two weeks, is a hybrid delegate system: it’s winner-take-all if the winner clears 50 percent statewide and in each congressional district, but otherwise it will be proportional. For Trump to get back on pace to 1,237, he’s going to have to get that 50 percent in his home state, a score he hasn’t achieved anywhere. The HuffPollster average has Trump at 52 percent, but he typically falls short of his polling -- in Wisconsin, HuffPollster showed a close race, with Trump at 38 percent, but so far he’s only taken 34 percent of the vote. New York will tell us whether Trump has lost a little steam in the last couple of weeks.
Bottom line: Clinton’s lead is safe. The Republican side is still up in the air. Trump could get to 1,237 by June 7. Cruz could rally and get close to Trump by then, and then take a lead during the pre-convention period. Either candidate could win on the first ballot. Cruz could win after the first ballot. Even a deadlocked convention with some other candidate winning eventually remains a plausible outcome. And unless something changes, all of those possibilities will be in play for the next two months.
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