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April 6, 2016

Frontrunners Foiled Again

Wisconsin exposes weaknesses.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are still leading their respective presidential nomination contests, but they are the weakest frontrunners in recent history. Trump certainly has deep and loyal backing, but it’s not wide, and Clinton has only grudging support as the “inevitable” nominee. That was made more apparent when both were trounced in Wisconsin Tuesday. Clinton secured just 43% of the Wisconsin vote against Bernie Sanders, who won with 56% (he’s now won seven of the last eight contests). Trump garnered just 35% in a three-way field despite being the runaway favorite just a couple of weeks ago. Ted Cruz won 48% of the vote, and 36 of the Badger State’s 42 delegates. John Kasich, who has won only his home state of Ohio, continues to siphon votes from both Cruz and Trump in a bid to be kingmaker at what’s increasingly likely to be a brokered GOP convention. Kasich surely kept Cruz from reaching 50% in Wisconsin, but he will also likely keep Trump from doing so in the upcoming proportional states of New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. It’s not clear that Cruz would benefit most from Kasich dropping out.

Trump has yet to win 50% in any state, undercutting one of his prime arguments — that he’s winning because he’s winning. After his latest loss, his campaign was left to argue that Cruz is “worse than a puppet — he is a Trojan horse, being used by the party bosses attempting to steal the nomination from Mr. Trump.” That argument might have worked with Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush, but Ted Cruz? The ultimate thorn in the establishment’s side?

Some prognosticators view Wisconsin as somewhat of a watershed moment in both races. Obviously, that remains to be seen because there’s a long way to go.

Delegate count — Republican needs 1,237 to win (769 remain), Democrat needs 2,383 (1,977 remain):

Trump 739
Cruz 502
Rubio 171 (no longer running)
Kasich 143

Clinton 1,279 + 469 superdelegates
Sanders 1,027 + 31 superdelegates

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