Just yesterday, Hillary Clinton aides made clear to reporters that Bernie Sanders has a pretty good chance of winning the Wisconsin primary. This should have been clear for quite a while.
Back in January, when most polling showed Clinton in good shape in many Midwestern states, a Marquette University Law School poll showed Sanders down by only two points. A month later, the same pollster found Sanders taking the lead in the Badger State, and as of today, that advantage remains.
On the Democratic side, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders leads frontrunner Hillary Clinton, 49-45. […]Sanders has the largest lead in the Madison region, but he also has a slight advantage in the Milwaukee region.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone. At this point in the race, analysts are able to start drawing up demographic models, predicting where candidates will do well based on the electorate’s makeup. The New York Times’ modeling, for example, considers Wisconsin “one of Bernie’s best remaining primaries,” projecting a five-point advantage for the Vermont senator.
That’s due in part to the fact that the state’s African-American population is below 7%, and Clinton has fared far less well in states with fewer black voters.
And while a win in Wisconsin will no doubt give Sanders another fundraising boost and a round of positive headlines, the challenge for the senator’s campaign remains the same: he doesn’t just need a win in this state, he needs to win by a lot. At this stage in the race, the difference between a narrow victory and a narrow loss is inconsequential – it matters when it comes to bragging rights and creating a sense of “momentum,” but not when it comes to delegate allocation, where Sanders has so much ground to make up.
As for Tuesday’s other Wisconsin primary, it seems Sanders isn’t the only underdog well positioned in the state. The Wisconsin State Journal reported:
Less than a week before Wisconsin’s presidential primary, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has leaped ahead of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, according to the latest Marquette Law School Poll. […]Cruz received support from 40 percent of likely Republican voters, Trump received 30 percent and Ohio Gov. John Kasich trailed with 21 percent support.
Last month, this same pollster showed Trump with a double-digit lead, but at the time, Marco Rubio was in second place with 20% support in a five-way contest. Two of those five contenders are now out of the race, and the bulk of their supporters have gravitated to Cruz.
As with the Democratic race, this shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise. The New York Times’ demographic model noted that of all the remaining primaries, Wisconsin is the second worst for Trump, making this a key opportunity for Cruz.
Remember, the delegate rules are a little different for the parties in this state. For Democrats, as is the case in every contest, delegates are allocated proportionately. For Republicans, however, this is a winner-take-most model, which means a Cruz victory here – which I consider likely – would make a noticeable difference in keeping Trump from reaching the 1,237 threshold before the convention.