Ted Cruz may have succeeded in denying his rival for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, Donald Trump, a clear path to victory on Tuesday when he won the primary election in Wisconsin. But the nominating contest now moves to territory that looks more favorable to Trump, including his home state of New York.
Cruz got 48 percent support from Republican voters in Wisconsin against 35 percent for Trump. His victory in the delegate count, however, was overwhelming: the Texan got 36 out of 42 delegates, by the Association Press’ count, helped by rules that give more delegates to the winner in each congressional district.
It may seem small beer compared to the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination. But Trump now needs to win 58 percent of the remaining delegates to get to a majority, according to NBC News, up from 56 percent before the Wisconsin primary.
But if Trump wins all of New York’s 95 delegates in two weeks, that 58 percent goes down to a more manageable 53 percent. And Trump is currently polling above the 50 percent support needed to trigger the New York primary’s winner-takes-all bonus.
Some of the industrial states that vote in May, including Indiana and West Virginia, may also be more friendly to Trump, whose nationalism appeals to white working-class voters, than Cruz, a staunch social conservative who is more popular on the Christian right.
Cruz, who has 226 fewer delegates pledged to him than Trump so far, must win 87 percent of the remaining delegates for a majority. That seems impossible. His best hope is keeping Trump under 1,237 and then win on the second of third ballot at the nominating convention in Cleveland, Ohio this summer.
Most delegates are only bound to support the candidate who won their state or district on the first ballot. After that they are free to vote for whomever they like.
Cruz’ campaign is working behind the scenes to try to make sure that state parties appoint their supporters as delegates so they could switch after the first voting round.