What We Learned From the Wisconsin Primaries

Cruz and Sanders had strong showings in the Badger State

Ted Cruz in Milwaukee on Tuesday. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Ted Cruz in Milwaukee on Tuesday. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Posted April 5, 2016 at 11:29pm

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz blunted Donald Trump’s momentum in the GOP race toward the GOP nomination on Tuesday night. After receiving the support of some establishment leaders, Cruz landed a victory in Wisconsin. All eyes turn to the upcoming contests in New York and Pennsylvania, with a combined total of 160 delegates at stake.  

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders put up a formidable challenge to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Wisconsin primary, though it remains questionable whether he can overtake her delegate lead.  

Here’s what political experts had to say about the Wisconsin primary to Roll Call:  

Bruce Haynes, president of Purple Strategies:

  “Trump’s bad two weeks conclude in a blowout that could throw his campaign further into disarray. He’s become his own worst enemy on message and his internal struggles are resulting in his being outflanked in the all important delegate selection process. The Trump campaign needs a turnaround.  The wheels are not off but the lug nuts are getting loose.

Clinton maintains a lead but no momentum. Clinton has now lost seven of the last eight primaries or caucuses. Her campaign can’t put away a septuagenarian socialist from the Green Mountain State and that has to give Democrats the night sweats. To borrow a line from Trump, she’s easily now the lowest energy candidate in both parties.”

Brad Todd, GOP strategist
: “I’ve been trying to wait on a few counties. sparse stuff but I think Trump will win 2 cong districts

You don’t get the sense Cruz won people over this week but that Trump turned them off. Trump is not making any adjustments in the locker room at halftime and that usually makes you lose. He is doing nothing to attract the people who think he’s an unacceptable nominee and that’s why he keeps getting 35% – the same number he got in his very first victory in New Hampshire against a much bigger field.

Cruz seems more eager to represent the Republican Party while Donald Trump wants to conquer the Republican Party. That’s a difference that is making it hard for Trump to build a coalition of 50 percent.

This is a major gut check for Trump. He said Monday he wouldn’t change a thing – but it is now clear he is not on track to earn a majority and if he doesn’t change he will struggle to win Indiana and Maryland -state he must have to even have a shot at 1237 in California.

The race is now on for Cruz to get as close to 1,000 delegates as possible. Getting 1237 on second ballot will be a big leap for him and I don’t think he wants to push it to a third or fourth ballot.”

David McIntosh, president of Club for Growth Action: 
“Tonight marks a major pivot in the GOP race away from Donald Trump and toward Ted Cruz. … Trump’s home state is next and anything less than a 50 percent finish for him in New York will be a loss. After that, Club for Growth Action is looking ahead to states like Maryland, Indiana, and many others where Ted Cruz will do very well, and where CFG Action can continue its efforts to stop Trump.”

Ian Prior, communications director for American Crossroads/Crossroads GPS:  
“This was a very big win for the Ted Cruz campaign in a state that, a month ago, seemed tailor made for Donald Trump. With several winner-take-all states (Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana) coming up that clearly favor Cruz, Trump is going to have to score a big win in New York to regain the momentum that has steadily slipped away from him. If he can’t do that, this is going to an open convention where the odds would seem to favor the insurgent Texas Senator.”

Pete Seat, a former spokesman for President George W. Bush, is a Republican consultant in Indiana: 
“Tonight was a defining moment for #NeverTrump. A popular quarterback (Scott Walker), combined with a monster offensive line (the megaphone of Wisconsin’s talk radio network), showed more power than the Green Bay Packers of Super Bowl XLV. And while that quarterback’s clarion call may have fallen on deaf ears back in September when he begged the other 8 million candidates to drop out stat, he was vindicated in his home state by helping to engineer a massive defeat of Trump.”

Greg Mueller, president of CRC Public Relations and former advisor to a super PAC supporting Carly Fiorina
: “Trump is wounded. Wisconsin just delivered a serious body blow to Trump’s math path to the nomination and pretty much ensures that this is now going to be fought out in Cleveland.”

Ilya Sheyman, executive director of MoveOn.org Political Action
: “Tonight was a huge night for Bernie Sanders. He now has the momentum in this race and has won another state that will be critical to Democrats in November. This victory, building on Bernie’s recent landslide wins in Alaska, Washington, Hawaii, Utah and Idaho once again proves that the race to be the Democratic nominee for president is far from over. Bernie has now won six contests in a row.

Bernie’s recent string of victories prove that his message is continuing to resonate with voters across the country. The American people are tired of a corrupt and broken political system, believe change is possible, and believe Bernie is the best candidate to fix the country.”

Contact Roarty at alexroarty@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @Alex_Roarty

Contact Garcia at EricGarcia@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @EricMGarcia

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