Donald Trump’s loss in Wisconsin — his biggest defeat in a primary so far — is being interpreted as a sign that he lost ground after several prominent miscues on abortion and other issues.
But the real surprise Tuesday night was not the weakness of Mr. Trump but the strength of Ted Cruz. It was the first contest after the departure of Marco Rubio that was truly competitive, and it looks as if Mr. Cruz benefited a lot. In fact, with a final result of 48 percent, he won a larger share of the vote than in any primary this year.
There’s no guarantee that this pattern holds for the rest of the race. But Mr. Trump will not come very close to amassing a majority of Republican delegates if it does.
It’s not surprising that Mr. Trump lost Wisconsin. For months, it looked to be one of his worst states, whether in the big pre-primary survey by Civis Analytics, polls from Marquette Law or in The Upshot’s statistical models based on the results after Super Tuesday or March 15.
Indeed, we expected Mr. Trump to win around 35 percent of the vote, based on a model of the results. That’s exactly what he won. Perhaps he could have hoped to be a bit higher with Mr. Rubio out of the race, but it’s not necessarily a sign that his abortion comments cost him much ground.
Mr. Trump’s challenge in Wisconsin wasn’t momentum, it was demographics. But what turned Tuesday night into a 13-point victory was the growth in support for Mr. Cruz.
Mr. Cruz was well ahead of the 41 percent projected by the same model. It was also above his typical results in pre-election polls.Read the rest of the story HERE
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