On the day before the Wisconsin primary, an Emerson College Polling Society poll shows Ted Cruz maintaining a 5 point lead over Donald Trump. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders has an 8 point lead over Hillary Clinton.
The ECPS poll of likely Republican primary voters fits squarely with the results of other polls tracked by Real Clear Politics. RCP currently has Cruz up 6.5 in its latest average of polls (which includes the Emerson poll). Cruz wins with men (43%-36%) and women (35%-32%) and leads Trump strongly among Republicans (46%-31%). That last result tracks with Trump’s favorability among Republicans which is underwater by 10 points in this poll. From the Emerson press release:
Trump continues to struggle with likely GOP primary voters with a 43% to 53% favorable to unfavorable rating. Cruz and Kasich are viewed much more favorable among primary voters: Cruz 58%-38% and Kasich 69%-24% favorable to unfavorable ratings.
Where Trump beats Cruz is among Independents (37%-34%).
On the Dem side, RCP has Sanders leading Clinton by 3.1 points in its average of polls. That makes the 8 point lead in this Emerson poll Sanders’ best result. It’s also a big jump from a previous Emerson poll last month in which Clinton was leading by six. As we’ve seen around the country, Sanders crushes Clinton among younger voters but he is also making up ground among women:
Sanders leads Clinton 68% to 22% in the 18-34 age group and 57% to 38% among voters 35-54. Clinton bounces back with voters 55-74 by 11 points (54% to 43%) and maintains her strongest edge with voters over 75, 72% to 21%.
Sanders has extended his lead amongst men from 51% to 43% in ECPS previous poll to 59% to 36%, while cutting into the women’s vote for Clinton, now trailing by only 3 points 48% to 45%.
Finally, Emerson asked GOP voters how they would feel about the possibility of a brokered convention. The result was an even split with 50% saying the nomination should go to the person who has the most delegates and 50% saying they would support a brokered convention. That’s a somewhat different result than the one CNN got when it asked a similar question two weeks ago. CNN found 60% of GOP respondents supported giving the nomination to the person with the most delegates whether or not he had achieved a majority.
ABC News says Wisconsin could play a decisive roll in whether a contested convention becomes a reality:
A Cruz win would mean Trump has an even smaller window to clinch the nomination by the time voting ends in June, increasing the likelihood that Cleveland will be a contested convention.
A Trump win in Wisconsin, particularly one where he wins all 42 delegates, would give him a chance to widen his delegate lead, lowering the percentage he has to win for the nomination, and giving him momentum heading into his home state of New York. Additionally, it could also cement his credibility among unbound delegates who are deciding whom they will support at the convention in July.
ABC News Matthew Dowd sums it up this way, “If [Trump] would win Wisconsin, he likely gets it, if he loses Wisconsin he likely doesn’t.”