Cruz, Sanders win big in Wisconsin

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Wednesday April 06th, 2016

Turning point?

As it turned out, Wisconsin wasn't close on either side. In the Republican contest, Ted Cruz whomped Donald Trump 48 percent to 35 percent, winning 33 delegates to Trump's 3. John Kasich finished last as usual and at this point remains in the race just to prove that he can't be told what to do, I guess. On the Democrat side, the inevitable nominee and smartest woman in the world got clocked again by the doddering, wild-eyed socialist, who won 56 percent to 43 percent and took 45 delegates to her 31.

Hillary has lost seven of the last eight contests to Sanders. Her next loss may be the one that sees her indicted. Some candidate you Democrats have got there.

The Cruz win is not big news in the sense that the polls had predicted it, but what I notice is that Cruz went - in a matter of weeks - from trailing in the Wisconsin polls to leading by 5 points to ultimately winning the actual vote by 13. And Trump campaigned hard in Wisconsin too. That probably reflects the a number of things that have happened during that period. One is the fact that a wide variety of Republicans - from Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham in the center to Carly Fiorina and Scott Walker on the right - have no coalesced behind Cruz. Another is the fact that Trump's been having a hard time articulating issue positions and, obviously, bring trouble on himself with stuff like the infamous wife tweet.

What we can't really know at this point is how much of the Cruz support is really just a gambit to stop Trump. That seemed to be the thinkinng of Mitt Romney when he said he'd have voted for Cruz in Utah - strictly as a recognition that Cruz victories seem to be the only thing at this point that can deny Trump the 1,237 pledged delegates he needs to take the nomination on the first ballot. It wasn't really an endorsement per se. It was a tactical maneuver.

But if any Republican power broker thinks they can back Cruz now only to dump him for Paul Ryan or whoever at the convention, I'm having a hard time seeing how you convince a majority of the delegates to go along with that. Cruz has proven an effective campaigner, and the argument that he can't beat Hillary is silly. The polls that show her beating him only indicate about a 3-point margin, and that's before a general election campaign has even started. A Cruz-Hillary campaign is anyone's race. And you can't really say how well a Republican would do against Hillary when the race right now is all about Trump and Cruz pounding on each other.

There's a school of thought that the GOP is screwed in the general no matter what. Nominate Trump and we lose because it's Trump. Nominate Cruz and we lose because the Trump supporters storm off in a rage. Nominate someone else and we lose because the whole thing looks like an engineered theft by the party elites.

I'm not sold on any of these scenarios, but even if some or all of the concerns have merit, my problem with them is that they assume the Democrats have no problems at all on their side. They have one gigantic honkin' problem, and that is that they're getting ready to nominate Hillary Clinton - the worst presidential candidate in recent memory. Whatever the problems our side is going to face, Hillary is a terrible campaigner, a known liar and as we've seen the recent contests against Sanders, not even wanted by the base in her own party.

I realize that Democrats tend to pull together for the preservation of political power better than Republicans do, but to win the general you've still got to win that 20 percent in the middle. Hillary's fundamental problem is this: In primaries, she wins registered Democrats and gets killed among independents. Yet the actual left-wing base can't stand her. Cruz also tends to lose independents to Trump, but at least the right-wing base likes him.

I am not in the business of making predictions and I have no idea what's going to happen, but it's not in my nature to look at any challenge and say, "We can't win!" Besides, if we can't beat this woman, who can't even put away a doddering, wild-eyed socialist, God help us. Indeed, God help us all.

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