UPDATE with Cruz and Sanders victory laps, Donald Trump statement: In this latest episode of Oh Boy, Donald Trump Is In Trouble Now, Only Maybe Not, Ted Cruz was projected to be GOP winner of today’s key Wisconsin primary about a nano-second after polls closed.
Ditto Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side, with Fox News Channel projecting his win the moment the polls closed at 6 PM PT. CNN, in a switch, took a more conservative approach, making its early exit-poll projections after counting to 10, and MSNBC waiting even longer by making its projections at around 6:20 PM. That was just a few minutes before CNN projected a Cruz win on the Republican side, and Fox reporting that Cruz had already pre-released some victory-lap cliches, calling his Wisconsin win a “rallying cry” and a “turning point.” And at 6:46 PM CNN confirmed its earlier exit-poll projections by declaring Sanders the Dem winner.
“It’s like Christmas in the summer,” emoted CNN’s Jake Tapper of the prospect of two open conventions, which is to say two conventions at which things actually happen and news gets made, in contrast to the largely ceremonial orgies of speechifying they have become.
Not everyone agreed. “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,” said you-know-who’s campaign. “We have total confidence that Mr. Trump will go on to win in New York, where he holds a substantial lead in all the polls, and beyond.”
More where that came from: “Trump withstood the onslaught of the establishment yet again. Lyin’ Ted Cruz had the Governor of Wisconsin, many conservative talk radio show hosts, and the entire party apparatus behind him,” The GOP frontrunner’s campaign boasted, even as pundits noted that Trump had only picked up 3 delegates to Cruz’s 33 (numbers were still coming in).
“Tonight is a turning point, it is a rallying cry,” Cruz said, as promised, in taking his victory lap. “It is a call from the hardworking men and women of Wisconsin to America: You have a choice – a real choice.”
After describing Wisconsin as “a bad night for Hillary Clinton,” Cruz went on to quote President John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, at great length. You know — “We are not here to curse the darkness but to light the candle that can guide us to see through the darkness to a safe and sane future.” Great stuff.
After cribbing from Churchill — “If we open a quarrel between the present and the past, we shall be in danger of losing the future” — Cruz wrote his own big finale: “Hillary, get ready! Here we come!”
While Cruz borrowed his best lines from a Democrat, Sanders naturally lift from a Republican. Insisting his campaign is unlike other campaigns funded by SuperPACS and billionaires, Sanders paraphrased Abraham’s Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: “This is a campaign of the people, by the people and for the people.”
Earlier Tuesday morning, Cruz said the Wisconsin primary “is going to have national repercussions — not just for the 42 delegates at stake here in Wisconsin, but I believe it is going to powerfully impact the states to come.” He had all the confidence of a guy who’d made an early and aggressive push in the state and was the beneficiary of millions of dollars worth of Stop Trump SuperPACs’ TV ad buys. Later in the day, he began dropping the “if” in interviews.
Trump woke up Tuesday morning with 737 delegates – well short of the 1,237 needed to secure the GOP nomination heading to the party’s July convention. Cruz started the day with 481 delegates and Kasich with 143, according to the AP.
In Wisconsin, 43 GOP delegates were at stake for the candidates.
CNN exit polling several hours before the polls closed showed 67% of GOP voters had made up their minds long before last week. That seemed good news for Trump, who in the meantime had suffered multiple self-inflicted wounds with his nasty retweet of a Heidi Cruz photo, a triple flip-flop on punishing women for abortions, and making light of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski being charged with simple battery for allegedly bruising a female reporter.
“If there is a large voter turnout,” Sanders said Monday, “we will win here — and if we win here, we’re going to have a bounce going into New York, where I think we can win.” He added, “Don’t tell [Clinton] this, but if we win here and we win in New York, I think we’re on our way to the White House.”