On Wisconsin: Ted Cruz could be our next president (really, maybe)

Good morning Austin:

First, let’s get the blood circulating with the University of Wisconsin fight song.

Hook ’em Badgers.

Or whatever.

The point is that, as a result of yesterday’s Wisconsin primary, it is now markedly more likely that Ted Cruz will be our next president.

He won a smashing victory over Donald Trump, and left John Kasich in the dust.

New York Times
New York Times

Look at this map.

Ted Cruz won Madison!

New York Times
New York Times

Here he was last night, describing what he called the “turning point” in the campaign.

“Three weeks ago, the media said Wisconsin was a perfect state for Donald Trump,” said Cruz.

And somehow – somehow – Cruz crushed Trump without benefit of any gender gap.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 5.12.38 AMIt wasn’t so much Trump’s decline, as Cruz’s rise, albeit as the anti-Trump.

From FiveThirtyEight.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 6.10.17 AM

“Tonight was a bad night for Hillary Clinton,” Cruz said. “It was a bad night for her in the Democratic primary and it was a really bad night for her in the Republican primary.”

He’s right. Sort of. Hillary Clinton would be a heavy favorite in a general election against Cruz, who could end up as Barry Goldwater without the half-a-century-ahead-of-his-time cool glasses.

“Ted Cruz is a guaranteed loss – he just is – in the general election,” Joe Scarborough said on Morning Joe, a redoubt of anti-Cruz sentiment.

Show me, Scarborough said, a state that Cruz can win that that loser Mitt Romney didn’t win.

Even some Cruz boosters were of a lose-with-Cruz bent.

“It’s one thing to lose an election. It’s another thing to lose your soul,” said Charlie Sykes, the remarkably temperate Wisconsin conservative talk radio host and never-Trumpist, on MSNBC last night.

A Trump nomination, he said, “would taint Republicans and the conservative movement for a generation.”

But, I’m not so sure Cruz is necessarily a lost general election cause.

Cruz can be very persuasive. He can be very skillful at presenting himself as less threatening than people think he is.

And while Clinton might win in a landslide, she also is a very flawed and vulnerable candidate.

After all, while Cruz was whomping Trump, Clinton was being whipped by a stooped and ancient Jewish socialist who thinks they still use subway tokens in his native New York.

As for the Republican nomination, Scarborough said, “Ted Cruz will never be the choice of the Republican Party. He is loathed. He is not a likeable guy.”

But, here’s the rub.

Cruz, through skillful maneuvering and big dollop of good luck, has the great virtue of having emerged mostly the reasonable, even safe, alternative to Donald Trump.

For the first time, I think, at least for the moment, he appears to be most likely candidate to be nominated in Cleveland.

It is simply a process of elimination.

With his Wisconsin loss, it is now unlikely that Trump can clinch the nomination before the convention, and, in a contested convention, Cruz has all kinds of strategic advantages (see Monday’s First Reading). And, unless Kasich storms to the fore in the upcoming Northeast and mid-Atlantic primaries, there is not really any plausible alternative.

“I’d rather be Cruz than Trump at an open convention,” Chuck Todd said on Morning Joe.

Forget about The Art of the Deal, I think Trump could find his pocket picked by Fast Teddy Cruz in Cleveland.


Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 5.17.04 AM

Here, is some of last night and this morning’s Wisconsin Twitter stream.











Author: Jonathan Tilove

Jonathan Tilove is the Statesman's chief political writer. He was a Washington correspondent for the New Orleans Times-Picayune from 2008 to 2012. Before that he covered race and immigration issues for Newhouse News Service for 18 years.

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