A Marquette University Law School poll released this week made an interesting dynamic quite clear: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump may be leading their respective presidential campaigns, but both are likely to lose the Wisconsin primary next week.
Those findings are very much in line with the newest survey results that have been released since. Looking first at the Republican race, here’s the latest poll from Fox Business:
1. Ted Cruz: 42%
2. Donald Trump: 32%
3. John Kasich: 19%
Public Policy Polling shows a much closer race, though Cruz is still in the lead:
1. Ted Cruz: 38%
2. Donald Trump: 37%
3. John Kasich: 17%
Keep in mind, looking at the overall averages, the evidence suggests Trump isn’t necessarily collapsing in Wisconsin – in fact, his base of support is actually inching a little higher. Rather, it seems he’s nearing his ceiling in the state, and Cruz is benefiting now that the Republican field is narrowing. (For a while, Marco Rubio was a strong second-place contender in the Badger State. With the senator now out, his supporters did not move to Trump, at least not in this state.)
Also note, when it comes to delegates, Wisconsin’s GOP primary is a winner-take-most model, which means a Cruz likely victory will probably make a difference when it comes to preventing Trump from reaching the majority threshold before the convention.
As for Democrats, here are the Fox Business results:
1. Bernie Sanders: 48%
2. Hillary Clinton: 43%
And here’s the PPP poll:
1. Bernie Sanders: 49%
2. Hillary Clinton: 43%
At this point, all of the polling shows Sanders with roughly the same advantage among Wisconsin Democrats.
As we talked about the other day, this shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise. 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 likely 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 practically 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.