The question has been asked: Does Wisconsin matter?
The answer is: Yes, for the Republicans. Not so much for the Democrats.
On the Republican side, Donald Trump has hit a wall. No, not that wall! A delegate wall. He may figure out a way to get over it but it will be far from easy. He has to roll up big victories in winner-take-all states and manage to defeat Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich handily. All this, when his poll numbers are tanking and his mistakes are mounting.
In Wisconsin, Trump won only 6 delegates compared to 36 for Cruz. There are 16 states left to vote and nine of them are winner-take-all or modified winner-take-all. Clearly, for Trump to go from the 743 delegates he has to the 1,237 he needs will require a string of victories, not just coming in at 30 to 35 percent of the vote. Yet, one would be hard pressed to assume that Trump will not come in at over 1,000 delegates when all the primaries are over. Cruz, of course, would have to romp and vanquish Trump and Kasich to reach the magic number. That’s unlikely, considering how much dislike there is for him within the Republican Party.
I have been predicting the Trump demise since last summer, without much success, but I think it has finally come to pass. Will he drop out before the convention? Doubtful. Will he make the case that he is close to a majority, that he can motivate untold numbers of non-voters in a general election, that he can fund the campaign himself, that he will be the outsider the country is craving? Sure.
But, end of the day, we are facing Chaos in Cleveland. Members of the Republican Party establishment – or as I would call them, the adults in the room – do not want either Trump or Cruz. They not only see electoral disaster in November but they fundamentally believe that neither of these two candidates would be good presidents. The problem, of course, is that you have a large collection of very angry, dissatisfied supporters and delegates of these two men who would revolt if the convention chose a Speaker Paul Ryan, who didn’t compete, or a John Kasich, with his single primary victory.
But the longer this primary season goes on and the more Republican primary voters indicate they won’t vote for their party’s nominee, the more likely the Republican convention will finally turn to an alternative choice. Yet, the convention rules committee and the delegates will have to overturn a 2012 rule that requires a nominee to have won at least eight states to have their names placed in nomination. The so-called Paul rule was named after Ron Paul, who Republicans wanted to prevent from wreaking havoc on the convention that year.
If both Cruz and Trump are being denied the nomination because they have not reached the required 1.237 delegates on the first ballot, do you really think true chaos will not ensue? Are these two men the types who will accept being shunted aside and denied the nomination after all the primaries and caucuses are completed? When basically they have split votes, are close to the magic number, and every one of the other 17 candidates who started running for president so many months ago has been put out to pasture?
Elected Republican officials, not only in Congress, but across the country, will be calling for another choice in Cleveland but still, the faces that will be preeminent will be Cruz and Trump. The only remote possibility is that Kasich will rise, but he could not even score the required 15 percent in Wisconsin to get any delegates. It’s hard to see money flowing to Kasich or added enthusiasm coming to his campaign if he doesn’t win, place or show in these upcoming contests.
With Trump’s negatives among nearly every voting bloc reaching stratospheric proportions, does Cruz suddenly look acceptable? He is the pariah, the rather creepy, sleazy, unlikable extremist who has managed to survive the gauntlet. But no one trusts him, respects him, believes in him – at least none of the Republicans who have had to deal with him.
So, thanks to Wisconsin and thanks to Trump himself, his interviews with the Washington Post and New York Times, his out of control tweets and his disorganized campaign, the Republicans are faced with continuing chaos all the way to Cleveland. And, somehow, the American people just won’t notice and are going to escape the unraveling and destruction of the Grand Old Party? I doubt it.