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Presidential Horse Race 2016: You heard it here – Cruz will win big in Wisconsin today

Heading into today’s extremely important Wisconsin primary, another new poll shows Ted Cruz with a lead in The Badger State.

Mark Hensch of The Hill reports, “Sen. Ted Cruz…leads Trump 40 percent to the billionaire’s 35 percent in the Emerson College Polling Society survey released Monday…

Ted Cruz Wisconsin“Pollsters also found that Trump is struggling with his popularity among Wisconsin’s likely GOP presidential primary voters.”

Numbers don’t lie. According to the poll results, Trump’s favorability rating in Wisconsin is only 43 percent (to 53 percent unfavorable). Cruz’s split is 58 percent favorable to 38 percent unfavorable.

It should be noted John Kasich came in at 21 percent support in the poll, signaling an almost certain and predictable distant third-place finish for the Ohio governor who remains in the race despite all common sense and calls for him to get out.

The Emerson College poll shows about the same divide between Cruz and Trump as the CBS poll (Cruz +6) released over the weekend. Both of these surveys see a tighter race than two polls from last week, which suggested Cruz enjoys a much wider ten point lead.

What does it all mean?

I’ve largely avoided making many predictions in 2016 contests, wary of polls that were often all over the place in terms of presenting accurate snapshots of the state of the race at any given time in any given place. They’re almost always off, too, if only by a few points – but a few points can make a huge difference in determining who “wins” and “loses”.

Undeterred by the possibility of failure, I’m going to go out on a limb for Wisconsin in predicting Ted Cruz will win by more than ten points today and secure all of the state’s 42 delegates. Here’s why:

First, recent state polls have almost all overestimated Donald Trump’s actual Election Day performance, at least in relation to Ted Cruz’s. Take the March 15 primaries for example. In Missouri and North Carolina, the Real Clear Politics average showed Trump with large leads, only to see the actual victory margin end up much smaller (these are only two examples of the phenomena).

Therefore, the late “surge” of voting typically goes against Trump, with the lone exception being in Arizona, where he outperformed the polls and was helped along by a month’s worth of early voting.

Second, the full impact of Trump’s bad several days last week has not yet been fully felt, and most likely will only serve to make Cruz’s Wisconsin victory margin larger.

Third, late deciders almost certainly will go towards Cruz because all the momentum in the race is in his direction.

Fourth, the impact of Scott Walker’s endorsement and the state’s conservative talk radio hosts being fervently anti-Trump will maximize all possible Cruz turnout.

Fifth, the fact the Democratic race has itself become more interesting will prevent some crossover votes from going to Trump in Wisconsin’s open primary. Democrats will “stay home” to weigh-in on the increasingly contentious Bernie vs. Hillary contest, which shows Sanders with a slight lead.

Lastly, Cruz has successfully taken his winning Iowa strategy and retooled it for a rerun in neighboring Wisconsin.

Shane Goldmacher and Katie Glueck of Politico report, “Just as in Iowa, Cruz arrived in Wisconsin before Trump, has worked it harder and stayed longer. He’s delivered speeches at rallies across the state, shaken hands at a sandwich shop, fought for votes at a fish fry and promised to bring back American jobs at a factory in Oshkosh.

“Cruz has opened a ‘Camp Cruz’ to provide free housing for volunteers who make the trek to the voter-rich Milwaukee region, as he did in Des Moines; he has again slammed Trump for refusing to debate him; and he has tried to fend off a third candidate (then Marco Rubio, now John Kasich) from serving as a spoiler.”

The Politico writers correctly add that Cruz goes into today’s Wisconsin primary with many more advantages than he enjoyed in Iowa, most notably the backing of the state’s leading conservative and establishment Republicans.

In Iowa, the state GOP establishment liked Marco Rubio. In Wisconsin, Rubio is out of the race.

It seems to me with all the factors listed above and the all-important momentum firmly in Cruz’s corner, he’ll not only be blessed with a victory tonight, it will be a big one.

Trump will be wounded, but he can still make it to 1237

Just because I’m forecasting a double-digit win for Ted Cruz in the Wisconsin primary doesn’t mean it’s the end for Donald Trump with a bad loss tonight. Far from it.

He’ll still be the overall leader by over 200 delegates and the calendar turns favorable for the balance of the month.

Tim Alberta of National Review writes, “Even if Cruz does win a lopsided victory on Tuesday, Trump’s immediate collapse is doubtful. A two-week break occurs between Wisconsin and the next primary on April 19, an extended hiatus during which accounts of Trump’s unraveling are certain to echo. But the state that is voting on April 19 happens to be New York…”

Similar to Cruz’s reliance on Texas to get his campaign moving in a positive direction on March 1, Trump can use his home state as a firewall for his own backslide.

The following week, on April 26, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island vote – all states Trump figures to at least be competitive in, if not win convincingly.

Because of the proportional nature of most of these states, Cruz can and likely will take home some delegates. It won’t be a total whitewash either way, in other words.

Heading into May, however, the momentum could very well shift back heavily in Cruz’s favor – at least in terms of stopping Trump from reaching the magic number.

“The key contests for those hoping to squeeze Trump into such a precarious position are Indiana and Nebraska. If Cruz and allied forces can stifle Trump in those states (and any others along the way), they’ll make it nearly impossible for him to hit the 1,237 mark, and Wisconsin will be looked back upon as the catalyst: the state that wrote the playbook for defeating Donald Trump,” Alberta surmised.

Indiana’s primary is on May 3 and Nebraska votes on May 10. Alberta provides detailed analysis of the possibilities through the rest of the race (ending on June 7), but highlights these two Midwestern states as the lynchpins to the entire contest, largely due to them being potentially good pickings for Cruz.

In Nebraska’s case it’s because the state is part of the high plains western region that’s proved so favorable to Ted and Indiana was singled out because it’s a lot like Wisconsin demographically. Without getting down into the minutiae of delegate counts, these two contests do appear to be at the epicenter of the remaining nomination battle.

In his article, Alberta limits his discussion to whether or not Trump can be stopped short of 1237. He doesn’t discuss scenarios where Cruz gets to that number himself, likely because the odds are steeply stacked against such a possibility unless Trump completely implodes and somehow even his supporters turn on him.

If the past year is any indication, that’s highly doubtful. And if the events of the past week can’t unstick his supporters from him, what would it take?

This game could very well be going into extra innings…

Ted Cruz wins delegates with votes, smarts and organization

Speaking of extra innings, Ted Cruz’s campaign is proving to be very adept at playing the behind-the-scenes delegate securing game.

First there was Louisiana, where Cruz managed to capture a majority of the state’s delegates despite a narrow loss in the popular vote there.

Then there was the news over this past weekend of Ted’s early success in Colorado and his near domination in the North Dakota state convention where delegates were chosen. Now, it looks like he’s on his way to improving his chances in Arizona as well, a state where he didn’t win a single delegate in last month’s primary.

David M. Drucker of the Washington Examiner reports Trump won the Arizona primary by 22 points over Cruz, but that doesn’t mean the Texas senator isn’t still fighting for delegates there. “But Cruz, exploiting deep opposition to Trump among grassroots Republicans, has been far more active in Arizona than Trump, insiders say. He's recruiting candidates for the available 55 delegate slots, that along with the other three delegate positions filled by party leaders, would be allowed to vote for him in a multi-ballot contested convention.”

Proving that the 2016 Republican nomination contest is more than just a numbers game, Cruz has put in the time and resources to win state by state at the grassroots level, running and electing delegate candidates who are favorable to Ted should the Republican convention go to more than one ballot.

It’s a similar strategy to that employed by Ron Paul’s extremely motivated backers in 2012, the only difference being Cruz has enjoyed much more success at the ballot box than the former Texas congressman.

Such smart planning indicates excellent leadership qualities, the type we need in a president.

Leon H. Wolf of RedState writes, “See, what Cruz is doing is what’s known as ‘contingency planning.’ Obviously, good leaders always want to have their ‘Plan A’ work, where possible. but good leaders know that this doesn’t always (or even almost always) happen, so they have ‘Plan B’ ready in case ‘Plan A’ goes sideways, and probably a Plan C or Plan D for good measure…

“[W]hatever you think of Ted Cruz, he’s shown a remarkable and borderline ruthless ability to plan ahead and execute – traits that would serve any potential President well.”

Cruz’s campaign has been several years in the making and the extremely smart senator got out the book, looked up the rules, wrote them down, called in some other smart people, raised money to pay them and the results are showing up now.

Donald Trump says Cruz’s choice to play by the rules and win delegates the hard way is a good example of a corrupt system. Hardly. It’s not any different than a smart golfer knowing the rules and using them to improve on a bad situation.

Anybody remember the time Tiger Woods asked spectators move a boulder out of the way of his ball as a “loose impediment?” As I recall, he went on to win the tournament with the shot he saved by knowing the rules.

“Cheating” involves breaking rules. Tell us how what Cruz has done constitutes cheating and we’ll all put up “Make America Great Again” signs in our front yards.

Ben Carson still telling it like it is

Finally today, Ben Carson said on Monday what most people have come to realize ever since the Republican race was narrowed down to two men – that if someone is brought in from the outside to take the nomination away from either Trump or Cruz, there’d be no one in America happier than Hillary and the Democrats.

Rebecca Savransky of The Hill reports Carson said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, “If it's not Sen. Cruz or Mr. Trump ... you're going to create so much friction.

“And, of course, that'll be a wonderful thing for the Democrats, there's no question about that, they will absolutely love, they'll be dancing in the street.”

It almost would be worth it to see Hillary and Bernie boogey-ing to the beat of the nightly news.

But let’s not make it happen. It only makes sense that the nominee needs to be either Trump or Cruz. Ben’s right and everybody knows it.

The establishment had better be listening.

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