Signs That The Stop Trump Movement Is Working In Wisconsin?
There are some signs of hope out of Wisconsin for those trying to stop Donald Trump.
Up until now, the efforts of Donald Trump’s Republican rivals, as well as leading Republican and conservative insiders, to halt Donald Trump’s momentum in the hope of forcing an open convention have been going seemingly nowhere. Despite his own caustic rhetoric, and quite often millions of dollars in ads aimed solely at taking him out, Trump has led in the polls nearly consistently since July 2015 and racked up an impressive series of primary wins that has put him in the lead in the delegate count and left him as the person best situated to garner the 1,237 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination. Over the past week or so, though, things really haven’t been going well for the Trump campaign. Last week, the candidate found himself largely on the losing end of an argument with Ted Cruz over the candidates wives. This week, he finds himself mired in the aftermath of the battery charges against his campaign manager and the candidates’ own controversial remarks about abortion. With less than a week to go until the crucial Wisconsin primary, this is hardly an ideal position for Trump to be in, and it appears to be showing in a new poll from Marquette University that shows Ted Cruz jumping to a significant lead in the Badger State:
JANESVILLE, Wis. — The danger signs are mounting for Donald J. Trump in Wisconsin: Right-wing radio hosts are flaying him, Gov. Scott Walker and other elected Republicans have endorsed Senator Ted Cruz, and a new poll showed Mr. Cruz with a 10 percentage-point lead in the state before Tuesday’s primary.
The Stop Trump movement may never have another opportunity like the one here, where resistance to Mr. Trump was running high even before his campaign became consumed by a new round of controversies, from his mocking of Mr. Cruz’s wife to the arrest of his campaign manager to his comments in favor of punishing women who get abortions.
If Mr. Trump is dealt a setback in the Wisconsin primary, including a potential sweep by Mr. Cruz of all 42 delegates, it would be his most prominent reversal since his second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses in February. And it would show Mr. Trump’s vulnerability before the race moves to New York and other Northeastern states.
The state’s Republican establishment, cohesive and battle-tested after years of partisan warfare under Mr. Walker, has dug in to support Mr. Cruz — not out of true love for the Texas senator, but in a marriage of convenience to halt Mr. Trump, whose temperament and conservatism many doubt.
But at the same time, if the forces arrayed against Mr. Trump do not prevail in Wisconsin, they are unlikely to slow Mr. Trump in the ideologically more favorable turf of the East, increasing his chances of locking down the nomination before the July national convention.
A poll released Wednesday by Marquette University Law School showed Mr. Cruz leading the Republican field with 40 percent and Mr. Trump with 30 percent, a reversal from a month earlier when Mr. Trump held a 10-point lead. Gov. John Kasich of Ohio was in third, with 21 percent.
A Cruz victory would suggest that a backlash against Mr. Trump has set in after a series of nasty episodes, including his insults of Heidi Cruz and the arrest of Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, on a charge of manhandling a female reporter.
Mr. Cruz went further than ever before on Tuesday during a CNN town hall in Milwaukee, where he suggested he would not support Mr. Trump if he became the party’s nominee.
“It’s gotten really ugly,” Mr. Cruz said. “What lesson do our kids take watching us?”
Earlier he said the battery charge filed in Florida against Mr. Lewandowski should be “a fire-able offense.”
With Mr. Trump adamantly defending Mr. Lewandowski as the victim in the encounter, after video evidence contradicted the manager’s earlier charge that the reporter was “delusional,” Mr. Cruz said, “Nominating Donald Trump would be an absolute train wreck.”
Mr. Trump’s unfavorable rating in the Marquette poll, conducted before Mr. Lewandowski’s arrest, was 70 percent. Only 24 percent of women planning to vote in the Republican primary backed Mr. Trump, fewer than for the other two candidates.
Still, Mr. Trump has many advantages in Wisconsin, including its large number of white working-class voters, a group that has flocked to him throughout the campaign, and a passionate base of supporters for whom he can do no wrong. He plans a heavy schedule of appearances through the weekend.
Thousands waited more than two hours on Tuesday to hear him in Janesville during the candidate’s first visit to the state. At the rally, he belittled Mr. Walker for his record and even his love for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. “He doesn’t look like a motorcycle guy to me, I’m sorry,” Mr. Trump said to laughter.
Neither women nor men waiting to hear him, many of whom bought Trump hats, buttons and shirts from vendors working the crowd like a Green Bay Packers game, said they were unsettled by Mr. Trump’s derogatory remarks about women.
“I think he calls ’em as he sees ’em,” said Mae Pospeschil, a title searcher from Beloit.
Unlike in neighboring Illinois and Michigan, Midwestern industrial states where Mr. Trump had strong victories, the race in Wisconsin is much tighter, in part because of sharp regional differences among Republicans.
Voters in the Milwaukee suburbs, the reddest counties in the state, hold highly negative views of Mr. Trump, according to a polling analysis by The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Voters in northern and western counties are more slightly favorable to Mr. Trump, the Marquette poll showed.
Charlie Sykes, a radio host in Milwaukee, who derisively calls Trump supporters “Trumpkins” for their unquestioning loyalty, subjected Mr. Trump to a punishing interview this week. “Remember, we’re not on the playground,” he chided the businessman over his insults of Mrs. Cruz. “We’re running for president of the United States.”
The regional differences matter because of how Wisconsin awards delegates. Three each go to the winner of each of the state’s eight congressional districts. Eighteen more are awarded to the winner of the statewide vote.
Prior to the release of this poll, Wisconsin was essentially too close to call, with most the limited amount of polling that had been done showing Cruz and Trump within the margin of error of each other. These numbers, from what is widely recognized as Wisconsin’s most reliable polling operation, would seem to indicate that Ted Cruz is surging in the Badger State and may be able to pull off a victory that would make it more difficult for Trump to amass the majority of delegates he needs to win the nomination. On some level, the fact that Trump is slipping in Wisconsin may seem counter-intuitive given the fact that he won in states such as Michigan and Illinois and that Wisconsin has a similar blue collar working class demographic that would seemingly be receptive to his messages about immigration and trade. Digging deeper into the Marquette poll, though, one finds that one of the main reasons that Trump is not doing well is due to the fact that he has significantly high unfavorable numbers among voters and among women in particular. While this has been the case since the beginning of the race, the fact that it seems to be playing a role now could be evidence that voters are looking ahead to the fall and factoring in the fact that Trump is losing in head-to-head matchups against Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. To the extent that Republicans actually want to win in the fall, they may be starting to realize that Donald Trump is most assuredly not the horse to back.
None of this is to say that Donald Trump’s campaign is over, or that a loss in Wisconsin means the end of Trump’s campaign. With six days left to go until people vote in Wisconsin, it’s possible that Trump could turn things around in the Badger State and either pull off a win or close the gap sufficiently that he finishes close enough to Ted Cruz to take a significant share of the delegates available in that state. Trump also continues to lead in the delegate count, and in the polling in Pennsylvania, New York, where a new poll gives him a massive 36 point lead, California and elsewhere. Of all the candidates he remains the only one likely to get to 1,237 delegates before the convention. A loss in Wisconsin, though, would slow Trump’s momentum and give at least some hope to those forces that hope this last minute effort to deny him the nomination actually works.
Update: As a counterpoint to the Marquette University poll, a new poll from Public Policy Polling shows the race essentially tied, with Cruz at 38% and Trump at 37%.