This makes two polls in as many days showing Cruz out to a 10-point lead in WI. Yesterday Marquette had it Cruz 40, Trump 30, Kasich 21. This one was conducted between Monday and Wednesday of this week, which means it was done entirely after the National Enquirer story about Cruz broke big online. (Scott Walker endorsed Cruz on Tuesday, so some but not all of the data here may reflect fallout from that.) If the Enquirer thing is hurting him, there’s no evidence in the polling.
Among just those who say they will “definitely” vote, Cruz’s lead over Trump widens to 46-33 percent, and Kasich gets 16 percent.
There is a big gender gap. Women back Cruz over Trump by a 19-point margin (46-27 percent). The two candidates are much closer among men: Cruz gets 40 percent to Trump’s 35 percent…
Independents can vote in Wisconsin’s open primary — and are more inclined to back Trump (37 percent) than Cruz (26 percent) or Kasich (26 percent).
It’s an open primary, non-Republicans are breaking for Trump, and Cruz … still leads by double digits. Huh. The margin here is a big deal because Wisconsin is winner-take-all by congressional district, not winner-take-all statewide. (24 delegates will be awarded by district and another 18 to the state winner overall.) The bigger Cruz’s lead is, the more that suggests he’s apt to perform strongly in multiple districts, not just the reddest, which means he’ll clean up in delegates. Another poll of Wisconsin released today by PPP showed Cruz leading by just one point, 38/37, but his lead widened to eight points when those polled were asked to choose between him and Trump exclusively, without Kasich as an option. That suggests Cruz’s lead could widen there as late deciders break from Kasich towards Cruz.
The newsiest part here, though, is the gender gap. Yesterday Marquette found Cruz leading among women by 15 points. PPP, despite seeing a tight race, also has Cruz ahead among women comfortably by seven points. Fox Business has him up by 19 points. There may be a difference of opinion on the state of the race overall but not over which candidate women prefer, which also confounds the idea that the Enquirer story is hurting him. On the contrary, Cruz is playing up his advantage by holding events in Wisconsin aimed specifically at women this week. All he needs to do to win the state, realistically, is hold his own with Trump among men and Republican women will put him over the top. That’s what makes the polls this week so interesting — if the gender gap here is part of a broader shift among women nationally against Trump and towards Cruz, Trump is going to have more trouble making it to 1,237 than anyone thought. He’ll still win his home state of New York in a blowout on April 19th, but that’s always been a foregone conclusion. The question is what happens after that. Are Republican women going to take Trump down before Cleveland?
One more data point worth chewing on. Note the third-party figure for GOPers:
Fox Business didn’t poll Trump’s favorable numbers but Marquette did — 22/70 among the overall electorate, if you can believe it. It takes a lot of anti-Trump Republicans to produce a number like that. That’s also a dagger to a theory being popularized by some Trump fans like Ann Coulter that he’s going to run up the score so high with white voters in key swing states in November that he’ll flip some states Romney lost from blue to red. For one thing, Romney actually performed quite well with whites in key swing states; Trump would have to somehow improve on those numbers and also not do anything in the process that bleeds votes from other key demographics. Gaining a vote from a white man who didn’t vote for Romney in 2012 doesn’t help if you’ve also alienated a white woman who did vote for Romney. All you’re doing there is exchanging one vote for another, not building on Romney’s take — and bear in mind, even among white men, WaPo has Trump pulling a 51 percent unfavorable rating(!!) right now. Beyond all that, though, one of the swing states Coulter’s targeting for Trump via the white vote is, er … Wisconsin, where he currently trails Hillary by 10 points in Marquette’s poll and by 14 in the Fox Business poll. That’s a deep hole to climb out of, especially for a candidate who’s very unpopular. How’s he getting from 22/70 favorables in Wisconsin to winning 70 percent of the white vote or whatever crazy number he’d need to take the state?
Here’s Scott Walker’s new ad for Cruz.