- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 5, 2016


No, Wisconsin is not Donald Trump’s Waterloo. It may just be the #NeverTrump movement’s though.

If Mr. Trump, the Republican front-runner, loses Wisconsin to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the race will continue to New York, where the latest CBS/YouGov poll has Mr. Trump up 31 points, and crossing the 50 percent threshold that would award Mr. Trump all of the state’s delegates.

“Overlooked: a poor Trump performance in WI could easily be erased by winning close to all 95 delegates in NY,” tweeted Dave Wasserman, an editor at the Cook Political Report.

From here on out, Mr. Wasserman estimates, the five highest stakes primaries that are most likely to tip Mr. Trump’s fate, as well as that of the GOP’s, are: Pennsylvania, Maryland and Connecticut (which all vote on April 26); Indiana (which votes May 3); and California (which votes June 7).

The most recent political polling gives leads to Mr. Trump in Pennsylvania and California (although narrow). If Mr. Trump wins Wisconsin, and after his victories in Illinois and Michigan, it’s hard not to imagine Indiana won’t follow. Not enough polling has been done in Maryland or Connecticut to definitively say. However, the Northeast tends to be Mr. Trump’s playground and more hostile to the social-conservative values Mr. Cruz preaches.

Even if Mr. Trump were to lose every delegate in Wisconsin (not likely, but worst-case scenario), he would still lead the delegate race 736 to Mr. Cruz’s 505.

Yes, a loss there would put a damper on Mr. Trump’s night — no unpredictable and celebratory victory speeches — and it may make some of his supporters question if they’re really behind the “winner” who Mr. Trump has branded himself to be. It will also be tougher for Mr. Trump to win the 1,237 outright — but he still does have a mathematical path (unlike Mr. Cruz, if he loses Wisconsin) in the remaining contests.

However, if Mr. Trump were to win Wisconsin, he would likely deal a death blow to the #NeverTrump movement, which has sunk millions into the Badger State with negative advertising. Conservative talk-show hosts in Wisconsin have joined the bandwagon, simultaneously putting down Mr. Trump while singing Mr. Cruz’s praises — for the last several weeks.

The mainstream media has echoed their narratives — and has more aggressively questioned Mr. Trump on his policy positions, leading to several gaffes on the campaign trail. #NeverTrumpers then retweet, publish and exaggerate these missteps to create an echo-chamber of just how bad Mr. Trump is.

Then you have the establishment jumping in — albeit some tepidly. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been wonderful on the campaign trail for Mr. Cruz, as has former candidate businesswoman Carly Fiorina. The endorsement of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was a bit lackluster (just being published on a Facebook page) and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has been erratic with his — one day praising the Texas senator and then saying how Ohio Gov. John Kasich would make a better president.

Regardless, five of the 17 former presidential candidates have rallied around Mr. Cruz before Wisconsin. Combine that with the #NeverTrump advertisements, the support of radio-talk hosts and the mainstream media’s focus on Mr. Trump’s policies and record — and it seems like Mr. Cruz should have a win there.

If he doesn’t, the #NeverTrump’s message has surely fallen flat. It will be the movement’s, not Mr. Trump’s Waterloo.

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