Wisconsin's GOP primary may be crucial for Republicans hoping to stop Donald Trump from clinching the nomination outright, with recent polling giving them hope that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) could pull off a significant win.
The state has 42 delegates up for grabs, with 24 awarded by district and 18 going to the statewide winner. Even if Cruz wins by a small margin, he'll automatically take all 18 state delegates and likely a good portion of district level delegates. That would probably keep Trump below the level he needs to win a majority before the Republican convention.
Of the six surveys taken of the race since March, all but one show Cruz ahead, with margins ranging between 1 and 10 points. Recent Marquette Law School and Fox News polls, both of which were conducted using live interviewers, each find Cruz with a relatively comfortable 10-point edge, up significantly from earlier in the year.
Wisconsin's demographics -- light on evangelical voters, and heavy on those without a college degree -- would seem to make it natural territory for Trump.
But the frustration GOP voters feel elsewhere seems to be largely lacking in the state.
“There certainly is a distrust of Washington, but there’s a realization that Republican leadership can work and can listen,” Matt Batzel, the executive director of the conservative American Majority, told National Journal. “So Trump’s message of cleaning house and trying to be a complete outsider rings a little bit hollow.”
Candidates and groups opposing Trump have poured a combined $3.8 million into advertising in Wisconsin, according to the AP, in comparison to the approximately $430,000 spent by Trump's campaign.
Much of the state's political leadership have also weighed in against Trump, as has local talk radio. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has repeatedly condemned the businessman's rhetoric. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who's overwhelmingly popular among Republican voters, threw his endorsement behind Cruz last week, and he is featured in TV ads for the Texas senator's campaign.
“I just fundamentally believe if you look at the facts, you look at the numbers, that Ted Cruz is in the best position by far to both win the nomination of the Republican Party and then go on and defeat Hillary Clinton in the fall of this year,” Walker told Newsradio WTMJ, a Wisconsin station.