Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had his biggest win of the 2016 GOP primary by defeating Donald Trump and John Kasich in Wisconsin’s Republican presidential primary Tuesday. He won close to 50 percent of the vote in a three-man contest and potentially giving a burst of new energy to Cruz heading into the big races in the Northeast.
The Cruz win in Wisconsin makes Trump’s clinching the Republican nomination before the party’s summer convention in Cleveland tougher. It also means that a contested convention in Cleveland is almost a certainty.
“Tonight is a turning point. It is a rallying cry,” Cruz declared at his election night in Milwaukee. “We have a choice, a real choice.”
Wisconsin was not a total loss for Trump, however: He picked up three of the state’s 42 delegates, and had a chance to win a handful more depending on the results in a congressional district stretching across much of the western end of the state.
The Wisconsin win by Cruz sets up a big showdown two weeks from last night when voters go to the polls in New York where he will be fighting Trump in his home state. Then comes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and later down the road California.
What Cruz win means is that Trump needs to win big in all of the remaining contest’s left on the schedule to get the 1,237 delegates needed to get the nomination. We will see if the #NeverTrump movement is truly gaining steam, or if it was merely a bump in the road for Trump, who has spent the last several days trying to regain the offensive after a series of self-inflicted wounds to his campaign.
While exit polls showed that Trump had won among moderates, and preliminary results showed him doing well in rural parts of the state — where he had been expected to do best — there were some troubling signs for his campaign. Among them were Cruz’s decisive win among women and suburban voters, two constituencies Trump has struggled to win so far.