Last Tuesday’s primary in Wisconsin brought a sweeping victory for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, leaving Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looking to double down her efforts preparing for the New York primary on Tuesday, April 19, which will play a larger role in clinching the Democratic nomination. Clinton’s loss in Wisconsin was decisive, but not entirely unexpected, and only gained Sanders four delegates in the end. Still, the true loser on Tuesday, both mathematically and in terms of campaign momentum, was Donald Trump.
The Republican candidate has repeatedly bragged about his unstoppable path to a GOP nomination, saying "I think you'd have riots," if the GOP has a brokered convention this summer (that is, a convention where no one candidate has won enough delegate votes to win the nomination outright). But Ted Cruz’s sweeping win on Tuesday marks a concrete step towards just that. Cruz beat Trump by 13 percentage points in Wisconsin, later noting the primary was “a turning point” in his campaign. And he is right: Trump needs 1,237 delegates total to become the uncontested Republican candidate, and he only took three out of 42 from Wisconsin, leaving him with 746 thus far. If he continues picking up delegates at this rate, he will fall about 100 delegates short of winning the nomination outright. Cruz, on the other hand, would have to win 88 percent, or 727 of the remaining delegates to win an unbrokered convention.
Even if Trump wins the New York primary, it may not guarantee a straight shot at nomination.
While an outright win from Cruz is unlikely, his Tuesday victory is still bad news for Trump, who is already refocusing his efforts on damage control. Now, he is turning his attention to the New York primary, where he is unsurprisingly polling 50 percent above Cruz, who previously dissed “New York values.” The businessman has also has set out to prove that he is more than just the hype, planning a series of speeches to explain his actual policies and promising a more serious tone in coming contests.
Even if Trump wins the New York primary, it may not guarantee a straight shot at nomination. If the race between Trump and Cruz continues to tighten, a brokered convention is seeming more likely than not. In such an instance, the Republican party could put forward another candidate (House Speaker Paul Ryan is already being eyed). The move is looking increasingly appealing for the Republican party as a variety of polls show GOP voters rejecting the two leading candidates.
An NBC News Exit Poll found that one in three Republican voters would vote for the Democratic nominee if either Trump or Cruz wins, and another exit poll from CBS news found that 38 percent of primary goers said they’d be "scared" and 20 percent said they’d be "concerned" if Trump were elected president.” The Republican party has long been shying away from Trump (or even outright running from him) and it’s not unlikely that they will pull another candidate for the nomination, something that four in 10 Republicans support, according to another poll from CBS.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to shut down the possibility of a brokered convention.
"I don't think it should be particularly surprising observation that I'd like a candidate for president who can win. Does that shock any of you? I'm not going to get into who fits the description," he said. "But I will say that the nominee is going to be someone who can get 1,237 delegate votes, and I hope that's a person who can actually appeal to a broad swath of the American public and win the election.”
With a lot hinging on the looming New York Primary for both parties, one thing is certain: the Republican National Convention is going to be wild.