Live blog: The Packerpalooza Primary; Update: NBC calls Cruz winner in WI; Update: CBS, Fox, CNN too

10:28 – Trump’s not exactly taking this well:


It still looks like Trump will win a couple of the CDs and get six delegates, but that’s not much. More interestingly, it doesn’t appear that John Kasich seriously contended anywhere in Wisconsin — where he should have been competitive. Maybe Kasich will take a hint?

9:52 – With 30% of precincts reporting, it’s still looking like a blowout, with Cruz up 53/30 over Trump. However, we still don’t know how many Congressional districts Trump won, if any. Trump could still get delegates — but it doesn’t look like he’s going to win more than six.

9:48 – To no one’s great surprise, Sanders wins Wisconsin.

9:44 – How tough was tonight for Trump? He’s not going to speak tonight. It’s not often Trump passes on free media coverage.

9:34 – CNN joins in the call for Cruz, too.

9:32 – CBS, Fox call it for Cruz too:

9:28 – With 4% of the vote in so far, Cruz is hanging onto a slim majority, up 19 points over Trump. Waukesha is coming in a little quicker, and that looks like a blowout for Cruz thus far. That’s probably what pushed NBC’s call. CNN so far is standing pat.


9:24 – NBC calls it for Cruz:

9:12 – Hmmm. Three-quarters of the GOP electorate were either very conservative or somewhat conservative, and who did they choose? And who won moderates?


9:04 – CNN has the exits on line now, and it looks good for Cruz. He wins among both men (47/37) and women (48/36) by double digits. Cruz also leads every age demo, every educational level, and ties or leads in every income demo. Looks like a big sweep, especially since Cruz has a 45/41 lead among voters with no college degree. Also, while Trump wins independents by five at 43/38, they only made up 28% of the GOP electorate. Republicans made up 66%, and Cruz won by 19 points, 53/34.

9:02 – Worth bearing in mind, with Cruz’ big lead among evangelicals, that the evangelical demo made up 38% of the vote in the 2012 Wisconsin GOP primary, and independents comprised 30%.

9:00 – Polls closing now. CNN estimates an 11-point win for Cruz based on exit polls, and another 11-point lead for Bernie Sanders, but those are based on early exits.

8:56 – S.E. wants to make Tower of Crap a thing tonight:

8:51 – Fox’s story on exit polls shows Cruz up among evangelicals 53/35, while independents break for Trump — but not by much, 43/38.


8:47 – John Kasich’s campaign released a memo that suggests they think Cruz will win big tonight too. In a section titled “No One Will Reach 1237,” the memo argues, “Tonight’s results will solidify the fact that no candidate will reach Cleveland with 1237 bound delegates. Heading into today, Ted Cruz was already mathematically eliminated, needing 102% of outstanding bound delegates. Donald Trump needs to win 2/3 of remaining bound delegates.” Of course, Kasich will need 500% of the remaining delegates or so to get to 1237, so it’s not clear why he thinks this argument helps him.

8:32 pm ET – CNN’s giving the first look at the early exit polls. Wisconsin GOP voters are less angry than in other states. Also, a third of voters made up their minds in the last week. Given the stumbles of Donald Trump over the last couple of weeks, that sounds like good news for Cruz — but we’ll see.

The only really big night in almost a month has arrived in the Wisconsin primaries. We haven’t had a big primary night since March 22nd, at least on the Republican side; we’ve only had Friday’s North Dakota caucus, which didn’t bind any delegates. It’ll be another two weeks before the next primary in New York, where the #NeverTrumpers have almost zero hope of slowing down the frontrunner. Therefore, even though it only offers 42 delegates, Wisconsin is yuuuge … at least as far as optics are concerned.


As I write this, CNN reports that the Trump campaign has already started scaling down expectations tonight. Actually, they’re raising expectations for Cruz, hoping to define a Cruz victory so impossibly that they can claim a moral victory when Cruz fails to reach it. This will, of course, fool no one, especially if Cruz manages to get a sweep tonight in the winner-take-all hybrid of statewide delegates and Congressional districts. Even short of that, though, any result that puts Cruz ahead of Trump in delegate allocation helps the Trump opposition, and might spark momentum in states after New York.  Given the surge of support in Reuters’ tracking poll for Cruz, putting him past Trump nationally, that’s not out of the question.

So how likely will a big win for Cruz be? Polling suggests that it’s certainly possible, and perhaps more probable than not. That’s mostly due to Trump’s ineptitude in Wisconsin, as I wrote in my column for The Week earlier today, but also because of Cruz’ organizational efforts. Wisconsin responds well to ground-up organizing for GOTV, a fact I covered in my book Going Red (excerpted in today’s column):

Scott Walker’s success in winning two terms as governor and beating a recall in between serves as a marker for Republican success in Wisconsin. Not only did Walker win the office, he made significant and controversial changes, and then won again and kept the GOP’s legislative majority in doing so. How did that happen? Walker himself spelled it out at the RedState Gathering in August 2015, in a meeting with Salem Media Group journalists and pundits.

“Between 2012’s recall and 2014’s reelection, we spent four times more money on digital than we did two years ago,” Walker explains when asked how he would approach the 2016 presidential election. “Why? Because when we contacted twice, we had twice as many personal contacts with voters in ’14 as we did in ’12. Even though we broke the record in ’12 two years earlier.”

Walker stresses that Obama’s use of Facebook and other social media was not an end unto itself. “President Obama’s big deal wasn’t just that he used digital as though it was magically Facebook and Twitter,” Walker says. “They used digital to recruit and inform real people, who then talked to their neighbors. They talked to people they worked with. They talked to people they go to church with. The primary system is going to be driven by that,” Walker predicts, “and so will the nominee” in the general election.

The other proven winner in Brown County and eastern Wisconsin, Reid Ribble, has advice for whoever wins the Republican nomination. “Genuineness and humility matters,” he says. “There are some very traditional values that are held dearly in northeast Wisconsin, in Brown County, and genuineness and humility count,” he emphasizes.

Reprinted (or Adapted) from GOING RED: THE TWO MILLION VOTERS WHO WILL ELECT THE NEXT PRESIDENT—AND HOW CONSERVATIVES CAN WIN THEM Copyright © 2016 by Ed Morrissey. To be published by Crown Forum, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, on April 12.


Which candidate would one guess did that describe better over the last few weeks? We’ll soon find out, but Team Trump’s efforts at expectation-setting suggests they already know the answer.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders holds a narrow lead over Hillary Clinton, but narrow wins won’t do much now. Their primaries allocate delegates proportionally, and he’s too far behind for 51/49 wins. CNN’s John King points out that even if Sanders won every contest left on their primary calendar on a 55/45 basis, he still comes up a little short of Hillary among pledged delegates — and then there’s the superdelegates on top of that. Unless Sanders starts winning 60/40 or 65/35 across the board, it’s over.

As always, updates will go to the top of this post in reverse chronological order, putting the latest update at the top. Be sure to open another tab for our Twitter feed post, too.

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