Ted Cruz and “Bernie” Bernard Sanders were the big winners in the Wisconsin primary. The Texas Senator easily won 48.2% of vote and 36 delegates, defeating by 13 points front-runner Donald Trump, who came in at 35.1% and took 6 delegates. The margin between Cruz and Trump was much higher than the most recent polls predicted, which were, in some instances, forecasting a neck and neck race. Governor John Kasich ended the night with 14.1% of the vote. On the Democratic front, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders chocked up his seventh recent primary win garnering 56.5% of the vote and 47 delegates vs. former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who earned 43.2% of the vote and 36 delegates.
The big take away from the Wisconsin Primary is a dramatic shift in the race dynamics. A few weeks ago, Donald Trump was clearly empirically the Republican front-runner. The conversation at the time revolved around the attempts of the Republican establishment to squash his momentum, to ignore the voice of the people and to create a public relations push for a brokered convention to stop this “unfit” candidate. Following Wisconsin, Trump with 743 delegates is still 500 shy of the 1237 needed for the nomination. And while he still has far more delegates than Cruz who has 517 and Kasich with 143, campaign forecasters are now estimating that he may not achieve the full 1237 delegates. The assumption is that after New York, the Mid Atlantic primaries, and California where Trump is forecasted to do well, he is going to face tough races in the west which may go to Cruz. Cruz also benefits from having a much stronger ground game than Trump. This has become evident in some of the states which Trump lost to Cruz, particularly Iowa and Wisconsin. In essence, Trump who was the runaway front-runner a few weeks ago, now only has a 50% chance of securing the nomination. As for Kasich, while he continues to remain in the race, according to the convention rules, to participate in the convention, the candidate must have the support of eight states. So far Kasich has only won his home state of Ohio.
So if the election goes to a brokered convention, there could be many scenarios. Trump could win, Cruz could win, or there is still the possibility that another name could be put forward. While RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has repeatedly denied that the RNC will nominate a candidate who is not “currently running for President”, the public now has this idea in their consciousness. And there are some who like the idea of an outside candidate. However, there are others who would be up in arms if an outside candidate is nominated because it would show the world that the people’s voice does not matter.
As for the Democratic race, there are many who say that the race was fixed from the start. They say that Hillary Clinton was the establishment’s anointed candidate and that Sanders and the other Democrat candidates who have since dropped out of the race were only there to create the perception of a competition. No one in their wildest imagination could have ever conceived that Bernie Sanders, an Independent who became a Democrat so that he could run for president, a candidate who has publicly stated that he is a socialist, would ever have achieved any traction in the Democratic presidential primary. Yet he has achieved incredible momentum in terms of public support, donor cultivation and primary wins.
While Clinton is still way ahead of Sanders in terms of total delegates with 1748 vs. Sanders at 1058, when you strip away the super delegates, the divide between Clinton (1279) and Sanders (1,027) is not as great. It is this “feel the Bern” momentum which is starting to create the buzz that perhaps the Democrats will go to a brokered convention as well. It is a bit of an optimistic perception because Hillary Clinton is still technically winning despite her recent string of losses. However, a far greater likelihood is that if Hillary does become the inevitable nominee, the Bernie Sanders supporters will react by staying home during the November general election. And of course low Democrat turnout will work to the Republicans’ favor.
Well they say the 2016 presidential race may be the most exciting presidential race in history. And it is just get starting. Expect more twists and turns on the road to the July RNC and DNC!