Swing State Pres

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wisconsin Post-Mortem: Cruz Did What He Must Do, But Bernie...Not Quite

One might reasonably conclude that both Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders did what they had to do in Wisconsin.  Each won the state, as predicted, and each beat expectations by turning anticipated single-digit winning margins into actual double-digit wins.

But their narratives depart from there.  Cruz inflicted actual damage on Donald Trump’s chances of securing the nomination, whereas Sanders did not materially change his wildly improbable odds of wresting the Democratic nomination from Hillary Clinton.

They're #1...in Wisconsin
In part that is because their goals are different.  Sanders’ goal must be to surpass Clinton in pledged delegates by the end of the primary season -- he has no hope of converting superdelegates if he is behind.  But Cruz’s goal is the more achievable one of simply denying Trump the 1,237 required delegates for Trump to secure the nomination before the convention, thus opening up the potential of a brokered convention. 

For Sanders to achieve his goal, Wisconsin was a ripe opportunity.  Few, if any, states represented a better chance for him to achieve that needed landslide margin.  Using just one measure, Wisconsin is 82% Caucasian, whereas, say, New York is 57%, and South Carolina (which Clinton won by a landslide) is 64%.  And while Sanders did well, winning Wisconsin by 14 points (57/43), he picked up only nine more delegates than Clinton (36 to 27), and that net gain is not going to get it done for Bernie.  Furthermore, the 14-point win is not of a sufficient margin, in my view, to shift the momentum and thus alter the likely outcomes of the upcoming eastern races (New York on April 19, and Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland on April 26), all of which have Clinton ahead in the polls.

On the GOP side, let me introduce the “Trump Tracker.”  Using the scenario we outlined two weeks ago, which had Trump achieving 1,238 delegates, we will, going forward, compare how Trump actually did versus that scenario.  We had thought Trump would lose by only 4 points in Wisconsin, and would pick up 12 delegates (essentially four of Wisconsin’s nine districts), but in actuality he picked up only six delegates.  That leaves him six delegates “off” the winning scenario, and thus falling short of the required 1,237 by 5 delegates, as shown on this chart.


        THE TRUMP TRACKER

Date
State
Trump Pred.
Trump Actual
Diff.
Cum.   Diff.
5-Apr
12
6
-6
-6
19-Apr
86



26-Apr
24



26-Apr
16



26-Apr
29



26-Apr
17



26-Apr
13



3-May
37



10-May
0



10-May
34



17-May
13



24-May
4



7-Jun
129



7-Jun
27



7-Jun
51



7-Jun
9



7-Jun
0



TOTAL

1238


1232

As we said when we created this scenario, it left more upside for Trump than Cruz.  In other words, it represents a bit of a “relative worst case scenario” for Trump.  There is ample time and potential for Trump to make up the six lost delegates and then some. 

One interesting fact in Wisconsin is that, according to CNN exit polls, there was no “gender gap” in the GOP race.  Cruz won both men and women over Trump by identical margins:  48/35.  Trump’s “Week that Was War on Women” did not result in a huge drop in his relative voting appeal (or lack thereof) to women relative to men.

As for the Democrats, Bernie Sanders now faces a gap of 252 pledged delegates, trailing Clinton by 1,279 to 1,027.  For him to overtake her, he would have to win 60% of all remaining delegates.  As Clinton heads into her stronghold in the east, that continues to seem a nearly impossible task.

BTRTN

We were correct in predicting the Sanders and Cruz would win, but we under called the margins.   Trump actually did about what we expected, it was Kasich who did worse.

Wisconsin
Predicted
Actual
Cruz
41
48
Trump
37
35
Kasich
22
14

Wisconsin
Predicted
Actual
Sanders
53
57
Clinton
47
43














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