When the dust settled after last week’s elections Wisconsin proved to be more relevant than usual in shaping the direction of the Presidential primary elections.
Turnout was higher than the state had seen in decades for an April election as around a million people cast their vote on each side of the presidential primary producing results that were definitive. Ted Cruz stifled Donald Trump and John Kasich gaining a significant plurality of the votes. Cruz won the state with 48 percent of the vote, Trump had 35 percent and Kasich 14 percent. As it seems to be the case in every state, there are the voting results, and then there are the delegate results. Cruz took 36 of the 42 possible delegates while Trump took the remaining six.
On the democratic side, the victory for Bernie Sanders was no less emphatic with Sanders garnering over 56 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 43. This led to a delegate split of 48 to 38 in favor of Sanders not including Wisconsin’s 10 superdelegates, most of whom are at this point unpledged.
Cruz’s victory appears to be significant from a national perspective given that a cohesive effort amongst Wisconsin Republicans to stop Trump proved effective. The Governor, state legislators, talk radio and pillars of the party establishment took to the airwaves, the internet, and the streets all in an effort to defeat Trump in Wisconsin. It worked, and could be a big piece to the puzzle that leads Republicans toward a contested convention in Cleveland this July. Had Trump won Wisconsin, a state where polls often had him leading comfortably until the final month, a much different narrative might be taking place heading into New York next Tuesday.
The victory by Bernie Sanders was important to his national campaign as well with Sanders handily taking another swing state and one with high turnout. The criticism of Sanders momentum was that it had been manufactured in smaller states with low turnout with demographic consistencies more beneficial to him combined with the fact that Clinton wasn’t spending resources in these states. In Wisconsin, Clinton did put resources in the state and turnout was high. Sanders resounding victory in Wisconsin does not put Clinton at significant risk, yet, but it did provide momentum so that he can continue to make his case. Sanders has now won eight out of the last nine contests, but still trails Clinton by over 2 million popular votes and over 200 delegates as they head to New York, a state she used to represent as Senator.