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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Ted Cruz trounces Trump in Wisconsin

With wife Heidi at his side, Ted Cruz began his victory address on Tuesday night by saying “God bless the great state of Wisconsin.”

In doing so, Cruz echoed the same opening line he’s used in celebrating his other wins, which are certainly piling up of late. By prevailing in The Badger State, Cruz added to his streak of victories that began in Utah two Ted Cruz Wisconsinweeks ago, moved through Colorado (a partial win) and North Dakota last weekend and continued last night.

The win streak doesn’t make Cruz the Republican frontrunner, but it does show there’s substantial support for the conservative Texas senator as well as opposition to Donald Trump.

The totals were impressive. With 99.9 percent of the precincts reporting, Cruz set the pace with 48.3 percent of the vote to Trump’s 35.1 percent. John Kasich lagged badly behind at 14.1 percent.

Marco Rubio earned 1 percent, about the same amount he would have gotten if he were still in the race. By the looks of it, Rubio’s remaining support appears to be going to Cruz. That’s a positive development.

Neither Trump nor Kasich chose to speak on Tuesday night, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t heard – at least in Trump’s case. If a sane person would think Trump’s reaction to Cruz’s win in Wisconsin would be to act graciously and wish him congratulations, think again.

Gabby Morrongiello of the Washington Examiner reports Trump said in a statement to the Washington Post’s Robert Costa, “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.”

Morrongiello continues, “The Trump campaign railed against Cruz's recent endorsement from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and claimed the first-term senator, who's now defeated Trump in eight states, was ‘propelled by the anti-Trump super PAC's [sic]’ to his victory Tuesday night.”

The fact the statement refers to Trump in the third person may indicate it was uttered by someone other than the candidate himself, but we all know nothing gets put in print without Trump’s okay first.

In maintaining such a harsh stance, Trump is trying to rally his supporters for the two-week lull between now and New York’s primary, but also clearly attempting to keep the focus on himself and his “tough guy” persona.

I can’t help but think it’s all a ruse. The Donald isn’t stupid – he knows the tide has turned against him. He’s just buying time to try and figure out how to start winning again. By blaming the establishment, Trump is once again positioning himself as the only anti-Washington candidate.

The only problem being Ted Cruz fits the bill just fine and the voters are noticing.

By now, Trump knows it’s going to be either him or Cruz prevailing at the convention in July. By agreeing to let the delegates choose between only them, they’d be locking the establishment out of consideration.

Newt Gingrich said as much during an interview with Sean Hannity on Tuesday night.

Ted Cruz said Wisconsin marks a turning point in the race. It very well could turn out to be, but we’ll know a lot more by the end of this month whether Trump can reach the magic number of 1237 delegates or if it’s going to come down to a floor fight in Cleveland.

If that comes to pass, my money’s on Ted.

Even the best case general election scenario for Trump doesn’t look pretty

We knew going into the vote in Wisconsin yesterday that the results might change the course of the Republican race but wouldn’t necessarily alter the delegate balance all that much. In other words, Donald Trump led ahead of Wisconsin and would maintain a significant lead regardless of what happened there.

With so much talk of delegates lately, many have perhaps lost sight of the BIG prize. Yes, the Republican nomination is something special to accomplish, but if you don’t win in November’s general election, you might just be remembered in the same vein as Mitt Romney and John McCain.

You still occasionally see bumper stickers with their names on it, but who wants to go down in history as a loser?

With an eye on November, people are taking a closer look at the electoral prospects of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, not just in terms of poll percentages vis-à-vis Hillary Clinton in the popular vote, but where it counts – in the Electoral College.

In doing so, the results are striking and could potentially give even some Trump supporters pause – because there’s no other way to put it…Trump’s prospects don’t look all that good.

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post writes on Trump’s worst case Electoral College scenario, finding he would still win over a hundred electoral votes. “[E]ven under Trump's worst-case scenario map, he wins 128 electoral votes and 16 states -- including the electoral college behemoth of Texas. The states that stay red on that Trump worst-case scenario map are rightly understood as states that I simply cannot imagine would choose Clinton over anyone with an ‘R’ after their name.”

Without being able to reproduce Cillizza’s map on this page, he has Trump prevailing in the reddest of red states, such as South Carolina, Alabama and Kansas – you know, the states that never receive any media attention whatsoever in the fall before an election because they’re not competitive for the Democrats under any circumstances.

Trump’s best case scenario isn’t real heartening either, though he does end up winning the presidency, according to Cillizza, with 285 electoral votes. This total includes wins in Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, all states that Mitt Romney lost.

Curiously enough, Trump’s best case scenario does not include Virginia or Colorado, two states that typically receive a lot of attention as swing states. It also does not include his home state of New York even though one of the The Donald’s key arguments in support of his candidacy is his supposed ability to bring key blue states into play.

Cillizza does explain his methodology for determining which candidates win which states, but it’s all highly speculative in April, seven months before the main event will even takes place.

Though I disagree somewhat with some of the states Cillizza lists as unwinnable for Trump (in his best case scenario), I think his main argument is solid. It doesn’t matter how many Democrat voters Trump can get on board overall, if he’s simply not competitive in certain states, he can’t win the Electoral College vote.

Of course, Cillizza also predicts down-ballot doom for Republicans if Trump is the Republican nominee, which may or may not come to pass.

But that’s beside the point. Lots can happen between now and November. Trump would no doubt win back some of the Republican support he’s lost and would likely take some Democrat votes as well. There is no question, however, that Trump would not have the same appeal as someone like Ted Cruz, who can not only win over the traditional Republican base but also attract independents by providing a stark contrast to Clinton herself.

Hillary’s got her own bag full of negatives going for her as well and let’s not forget she must also put in a lot of work repairing the damage from the contentious Democrat primaries.

She loses big-time to Bernie Sanders with the youth vote and white liberals, as was once again demonstrated in Wisconsin. Are these groups going to be so quick to back her in November, especially if Trump is not there to motivate them to vote for her?

As a rule, it’s too early to predict how the general election race is going to turn out. The only thing I can say for certain is a candidate like Ted Cruz looks to be in a much better position to win in November. Time will tell if he gets that chance.

To be a “winner,” John Kasich must win first

Yet another thing we knew wouldn’t change regardless of the outcome in Wisconsin yesterday concerns the continuing eccentric presence of John Kasich in the race. True to predictions, Kasich finished a distant third in Wisconsin, yet shows no sign of reading the writing on the wall and getting out of the way.

Despite the pathetic performance, some in the establishment media see a sunny future for Kasich. The sometimes useful Wall Street Journal is one of those publications.

Eddie Scarry of the Washington Examiner reports, “Calling [Kasich] ‘a winner,’ the Journal said in an editorial Monday night that Kasich deserves the votes he's getting, which are prohibiting either Ted Cruz or front-runner Donald Trump from locking up the nomination sooner…

“The paper acknowledged that Kasich cannot become the nominee before the convention, but suggested that he could succeed in the event of a brokered convention, in which case no candidate will have won the required delegates in time and will have to re-organize and persuade other delegates to pledge their votes to him.”

There are numerous problems with the WSJ’s analysis, starting with the assumption that should Trump and Cruz fail to win on the first ballot that someone like Kasich would be the de facto next choice of the Republican delegates.

For the few Kasich fans still out there, how could the convention delegates justify nominating a candidate who’s gone through the entire process and has won a plurality of votes in only his home state? What about the fact Kasich actually runs weakest in the most conservative states? Isn’t there an argument that conservatives’ decided lack of enthusiasm for him – as shown through his pathetic vote percentages there – could conceivably bring these states back into play for the Democrats?

To have a nominee like Kasich would inspire no one and the end result would look a lot like 2012 and 2008. If there’s anything to be learned from this year’s primary season it’s the Republican electorate’s overwhelming preference is for an “outsider” candidate.

Aside from this, if Kasich is such a “winner,” why can’t he…win?

The “pragmatic” electable argument is usually a loser and meant to scare conservatives into supporting anybody the establishment puts forward. Mitt Romney was supposedly the most electable one in the 2012 field and John McCain was plastered with the title in 2008.

We all know the results.

This year, conservatives are in charge, so Kasich likely won’t even get a chance to test his theory at the convention. Erick Erickson of The Resurgent writes, “The reality is that Donald Trump may be held back from 1,237 delegates at the convention. The reality is that Ted Cruz is the only candidate seriously challenging Donald Trump and preventing him from getting to 1,237. The reality is that Trump and Cruz will have the most people loyal to them at the convention and those people will shape the Rules Committee and consider whether to strip the requirement of an 8 state win for nomination consideration.”

What incentive would these people have to choose a “winner” like John Kasich?

Zero.

Poll shows Clinton competitive with Trump in Mississippi?

Finally today, I argued above that it’s much too early to panic about the potential Electoral College prospects of Donald Trump, but it’s not too soon to be concerned about it.

Last month polls showed the Republican frontrunner trailing Hillary Clinton in deep red Utah, but that was thought to be an outlier because of the state’s heavy Mormon population.

But now there’s evidence Trump isn’t real popular in other solidly conservative states, either.

Jonathan Easley of The Hill reports, “Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is running almost even with Republican front-runner Donald Trump in the deep-red state, a Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey released Tuesday found. Trump has 46 percent support, while Clinton pulls in 43 percent — within the margin of error of 4 percentage points.

“The last time a Democrat won Mississippi was 1976, when Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford.”

Easley adds Trump’s being hindered by his weakness with women voters, a factor that isn’t likely to change much over the course of months because of his penchant for saying insulting things and inability to articulate cohesive positions on basic cultural issues such as abortion.

It should be noted, the same poll showed both Cruz and Kasich do significantly better versus Hillary in Mississippi.

Again, it’s only April, but that’s a good thing. Republican voters still have a good chance to stop Trump in the remaining primaries, with Cruz’s resounding victory in Wisconsin providing a solid starting point.

It’s going to be an interesting two months until California closes out the voting on June 7, that’s for sure.

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