Wisconsin squeaker: Nehlen closes in on Ryan, comes within ... 70 points

Even a grateful tweet from Donald Trump hasn’t done much for the hopes of Paul Nehlen to “Cantorize” Paul Ryan. According to a new poll from Remington Research of 1,157 voters in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional district, Nehlen’s looking at a very short night of suspense from Tuesday’s primary. Alternate headline: Paul Manafort’s analysis proves prescient.

The Hill has the particulars:

Speaker Paul Ryan is expected to dominate in his Tuesday House primary, even without the endorsement of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

A Remington Research Group poll released Friday shows 80 percent of voters support Ryan in his Wisconsin primary, compared to a mere 14 percent backing challenger Paul Nehlen, a conservative Trump supporter.

Titus Bond writes that, if anything, the numbers have moved away from Nehlen. Voters appear to have rallied to the side of their favorite son, he believes:

“It is clear, according to the most recent data, that Paul Ryan will win by a wide margin on Tuesday. The numbers have moved in Ryan’s favor since we last surveyed this race, indicating likely Republican voters there do not appreciate the attacks on their Congressman,” said Titus Bond, Director of Remington Research Group.

The curious aspect of this poll isn’t Ryan’s massive lead. It’s Trump’s relative popularity in WI-01. He lost Wisconsin’s presidential-preference primary in April, including a spanking in this district. However, Trump’s favorable numbers are very positive here, 52/32, especially relative to his favorable ratings nationally.

If that’s the case, why hasn’t Nehlen gotten more traction out of his cheerleading of Trump? Perhaps it’s because Nehlen says things like this, although this particular example happened outside of the polling period:

“The question is, why do we have Muslims in the country?” conservative businessman Paul Nehlen said in a Monday radio interview with Chicago‘s AM 560 “The Answer.”

Nehlen said that Muslims who believe in Sharia law are in “direct conflict” with the U.S. Constitution.

“If someone is supporting Sharia, that is doing something wrong,” he said.

“Are you suggesting that we deport all of the Muslims in this country?” asked radio host Dan Proft.

“I’m suggesting we have a discussion about it, that’s for sure,” Nehlen replied.

Not even Trump has suggested that we deport all Muslims; he’s talked about banning entry into the US by non-citizen Muslims, but has tempered that position over the last few months to restricting immigration from nations with terrorism issues. Many of the Muslims that Nehlen references here are US-born American citizens; how exactly do we deport Americans from America? It’s a nutty idea, and Wisconsin voters aren’t terribly inclined to support nuttiness.

Anyway, a big Ryan win on Tuesday is the best possible outcome for Trump, even if his supporters might not like it. It moots the endorsement issue, and it ends one point of disunity within the GOP. A massive win on this scale relieves Trump from any responsibility for the outcome of the race, too. That’s what Manafort meant earlier this week — and he’s probably even more anxious than Ryan to see a big win Tuesday night.

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