clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Election results 2016: Donald Trump loses Wisconsin primary to Ted Cruz

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty
Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

Wisconsin voters have spoken loud and clear: They think Donald Trump is a loser.

Ted Cruz won a solid victory in the Badger State's Republican primary Tuesday, according to early calls by multiple networks. Trump was projected to finish in second, and John Kasich was far back in third place.

Most of the state's 42 delegates are likely to go to Cruz. Eighteen will be allotted to him due to his statewide win, and three more will go to the winner in each of the state's eight congressional districts. And it's looking like Trump does have a shot to win a couple of districts.

But even if Cruz sweeps every delegate Wisconsin has to offer, he'll remain far behind Trump, trailing him by about 240 delegates.

However, Trump's poor performance does make his path to a delegate majority somewhat more difficult. To achieve that, Trump will need strong performances across the Northeast, California, and in other states like Indiana and West Virginia. This looks doable, but he has little room for error.

We don't really know if Trump's Wisconsin loss has any broader significance

Notably, this is the first day since the Iowa caucuses in which at least one state has held a primary or caucus and Donald Trump has failed to come away with a win.

So the #NeverTrump forces will surely hope the Wisconsin results will mark a turning point in the race, and the beginning of a serious decline in Trump's fortunes. Indeed, it does come after two weeks of positively dreadful press for the GOP frontrunner, and as his chances of winning the nomination have been declining in prediction markets.

But the Wisconsin result could also just be a fluke of the calendar rather than having much of a larger meaning beyond depriving Trump of a few more delegates. After all, it's long been known that Trump is weak in the Midwest — he lost in Iowa, Minnesota, and Ohio (though he won in Michigan and Illinois, two other Rust Belt primary states).

Moving forward, though, the calendar is about to shift in Trump's favor. He's done particularly well in the Northeast, and the rest of April is stacked with Northeastern contests.

The next state to hold a GOP primary will be New York on April 19, and this will be followed by "Northeastern Super Tuesday" on April 26 (when Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware will vote). And in the states that have been polled — New York and Pennsylvania — Trump has been ahead.

So if Trump disappoints in his home state and in the Northeast later this month, then we'll have evidence that something truly has changed in the race, and that his campaign is in trouble. From Wisconsin alone, though, we can't really extrapolate too much.