It was not too surprising that Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz won in yesterday’s Wisconsin primary. However, I am surprised that they won so easily. So what does this mean to the front runners?
Hillary Clinton has a commanding lead and cannot be caught. The Democratic primaries award delegates on a proportional basis. Despite his big win, he only picked up ten more delegates than she did. Most of her lead comes from an overwhelming advantage among the party insiders or superdelegates. They know that Sanders can’t win in November so are unlikely to switch to him. Nonetheless, Clinton still has a huge problem mending fences with the Sanders supporters. There is no way she can afford to have them stay home in November yet anything she does to appease them will hurt her electability. Both Ford in 1976 and Carter in 1980 won the nomination after a bruising battle with a challenger. They both lost the general election. Clinton has to wonder how she can keep history from repeating itself.
We have heard a lot about Donald Trump’s bad week. Of all his missteps, the one that concerns me the most is his willingness to discuss nuclear proliferation, NATO and the use of nuclear weapons without really thinking about these issues. Clearly, he is not going away. However, it is now obvious that 30-40% of the vote is his ceiling not his floor. I think it virtually impossible that he will get enough delegates to clinch the nomination. In fact, it is possible that Cruz will get more than he does. I see no way to avoid a contested convention (more on that later).
Better fasten your seat belts. We’re in for a bumpy ride.