Noteworthy for many reasons, starting with the fact that it shows Cruz out to what’s easily his biggest lead in Wisconsin this month. Two other recent polls had him up by one point and five points, respectively; a third had Trump by two. This is the only poll taken over the past six days, though, which raises the question of whether it’s an outlier or it’s picking up recent movement towards Cruz for unknown reasons.
Another reason it’s noteworthy is the time frame. It was conducted between last Thursday and this past Monday, meaning that it did include several days of polling after the National Enquirer story about Cruz broke but didn’t include any polling after Scott Walker endorsed Cruz yesterday morning — and note that Walker’s approval rating among Republicans here is 80/17. You would expect a poll like that, having missed the good news for Cruz but incorporated some of the bad, to show worse numbers than expected for him. Instead he’s up by double digits. How can that be?
One likely reason: Wisconsin loathes Trump.
That’s a favorable rating of 22/70 you’re looking at there. (Among the entire electorate, that is, not just Republicans.) Cruz’s rating is very poor too at 30/49; Hillary Clinton’s is even worse at 35/59. And yet, because Trump is so insanely toxic, Hillary destroys him in a hypothetical head-to-head, 47/37. Against Cruz, she’s dead even at 44 apiece — a startling result given Wisconsin’s reliable Democratic lean in presidential elections and Cruz’s reputation for ideological “extremism.” A good Democratic candidate waltzes away with Wisconsin in November. A bad one, like Hillary, may have to work for it against a decent Republican nominee. (Bernie Sanders runs much more strongly against Trump and Cruz here than she does.) Against a terrible Republican nominee, though? No contest.
Another eye-popping data point on Trump:
A clear majority of Wisconsinites are “very uncomfortable” with Trump as president. Cruz and Clinton draw poor numbers here too — 32 percent and 42 percent, respectively — but not nearly as poor as Trump’s, which turns a potentially competitive midwestern state into a giveaway. In fact, the vast majority of Wisconsin GOPers who aren’t voting Trump are so firmly opposed to him, per Marquette’s data, that he gained not a single point in their polling over the last month despite 31 percent of the primary electorate being freed up as other candidates like Marco Rubio left the race. Back in February, it was Trump 30, Cruz 19, Kasich 8. Cruz has gained 21 points since then and Kasich has gained 13. Trump: Zero. If you’re of the belief that Kasich dropping out would propel Cruz to ultimate victory as anti-Trumpers unite behind him, you can’t do better than that as evidence for your case.
One more set of numbers, which won’t surprise you but could be significant:
Among men in Republican primary, Trump supported by 35%, compared to 24% of women. Cruz at 40% and 39% respectively. #mulawpoll
— MULawPoll (@MULawPoll) March 30, 2016
No gender gap for Cruz but a big one for Trump. Lots of ink has been spilled on the problems Trump will face with women in the general election but it could be that his retweeted insult of Heidi Cruz and the fallout from it are starting to bite with Republican women voters too. It’ll take more than one poll and more than one state to validate that, but it’s something to watch if Cruz’s numbers begin rising elsewhere. Is the anti-Trump wing of the party writ large that’s unifying behind him or is it Republican women specifically, alienated by Trump, who are breaking his way?