Sen. Ted Cruz holds a rally in Charleston, S.C., Feb. 19, 2016. 
Photo by Mark Peterson/Redux for MSNBC

First Read: Map and math about to get tougher for Cruz, Sanders

First Read is a morning briefing from Meet the Press and the NBC Political Unit on the day’s most important political stories and why they matter.

After their wins, the map and the math get tougher for Cruz, Sanders

It was mission accomplished for both Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders in Wisconsin last night. Cruz won almost all of Wisconsin’s delegates (with six to still be decided), and Sanders got the double-digit victory his campaign was hoping for (14 points). But the going now gets tougher for the two men – regarding both the map and the math, especially as the primary contests move to delegate-rich New York and the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic later this month. The problem for Cruz and the “Stop Trump” effort: It’s possible that Trump could win close to or all of New York’s 95 delegates on April 19, because it’s winner-take-all if a candidate gets more than 50% of the statewide and congressional-district vote. And guess what: Trump is currently polling above 50% in the state. So for Trump, New York could more than make up for the delegates that Cruz netted last night. Here is the current delegate math:

Trump holds a 239-delegate lead over Cruz (it was 275 going into last night)

Trump must win 58% of remaining delegates to hit 1,237 magic number (was 56%)

Cruz must win 87% of remaining delegates to hit 1,237 magic number (was 88%)

Kasich must win 132% of remaining delegates to hit 1,237 magic number (was 127%)

But get this

If Trump wins all of New York’s 95 delegates, that 58% goes down to 53%. And if you doubt that Trump can win big in New York, we’ve seen this kind of race before – Carl Paladino getting 62% to Rick Lazio’s 38% in the 2010 New York GOP gubernatorial primary.

Despite his 14-point win, Sanders has picked up a net gain of just 10 pledged delegates out of Wisconsin so far

Here’s the problem for Sanders after his big win last night: He outspent Clinton over the Wisconsin airwaves by nearly a 3-to-1 margin, beat her by 14 percentage points, 57%-43%, but only picked up a net gain of just 10 pledged delegates. And despite that gain, the percentage of overall remaining delegates that Clinton needs to clinch the nomination actually got smaller (from 34% to 33%), because there are fewer delegates left to win.

In pledged delegates, Clinton holds a 245-delegate lead over Sanders (it was 255)

  • Clinton 1271 (55% of delegates won)
  • Sanders 1026 (45%)

In overall delegates (including superdelegates), Clinton holds a 670-delegate lead over Sanders (was 680)

Clinton must win 33% of remaining delegates to hit 2383 magic number (was 34%)

Sanders must win 67% of remaining delegates to hit 2383 magic number (was 66%)

The number of open primaries for Bernie Sanders is getting smaller

There’s another potential problem for Sanders as the Democratic contest heads into New York, which is Clinton’s home state but also where Sanders grew up: New York is a closed primary, which means that the independents that he won 72%-28% in Wisconsin won’t be able to vote. And the deadline to register as a New York Democrat ended on March 25. Of the 16 Democratic remaining primaries, just three are completely open contests.

  • April 9: Wyoming CAUCUS
  • April 19: New York CLOSED
  • April 26: Connecticut CLOSED
  • April 26: Delaware CLOSED
  • April 26: Maryland MIXED
  • April 26: Pennsylvania CLOSED
  • April 26: Rhode Island MIXED
  • May 3: Indiana OPEN
  • May 10: West Virginia MIXED
  • May 17: Kentucky CLOSED
  • May 17: Oregon CLOSED
  • June 7: California MIXED
  • June 7: Montana OPEN
  • June 7: New Jersey CLOSED
  • June 7: New Mexico CLOSED
  • June 7: North Dakota CAUCUS
  • June 7: South Dakota OPEN
  • June 14: DC CLOSED

Trump campaign: “Ted Cruz is worse than a puppet – he is a Trojan horse”

So looking ahead to the next 48 hours, how does Trump respond to his Wisconsin loss? Well, his reaction last night wasn’t necessarily pretty or gracious: “Lyin’ Ted Cruz had the governor of Wisconsin, many conservative talk radio show hosts, and the entire party apparatus behind him,” the campaign said in a statement. “Not only was he propelled by the anti-Trump Super PAC’s spending countless millions of dollars on false advertising against Mr. Trump, but he was coordinating with his own Super PACs (which is illegal) who totally control him. Ted 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.” Wow.

New York Daily News hammers Sanders as the race turns to the Empire State

And for Sanders, the next 24 hours won’t be pretty with New York Daily News covers like this: “Bernie’s Sandy Hook Shame” – for Sanders’ admission to the paper that the families of the Newtown, CT shooting shouldn’t be able to sue gun manufacturers. That Daily News headline couldn’t come at a worse time for him after his big win last night. And there’s criticism/scrutiny of Sanders’ entire interview with the Daily News editorial page.

Kasich needs a rationale (and a win outside his home state) to remain in the race

Finally, after John Kasich got just 14% of the vote in Wisconsin – and didn’t pick up a single delegate – he needs a rationale to stay in the race. It seems his campaign is banking on Pennsylvania (April 26). But we’ll see.

On the trail

Hillary Clinton campaigns in Pennsylvania… Ditto Bernie Sanders… Donald Trump holds a rally in Bethpage, NY at 7:00 pm ET… And John Kasich delivers his “State of the State” address in Ohio. 

First Read: Map and math about to get tougher for Cruz, Sanders