(Charleston, West Virginia) – Oh how I wish I was in my home state of Wisconsin! The Badger State is the next stop on the Presidential campaign trail, on Tuesday April 5. I’ve been there for so many, and am missing my hometown family and friends. Wisconsin is poised to be a critical turning point for both parties, so let’s “brunch” on that this week:
“On, Wisconsin!” – The latest poll from my alma mater – Marquette University – has the Republican primary at 40 percent for Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), 30 for businessman Donald Trump; and, 21 percent for Governor John Kasich (R-OH). That leaves nine percent undecided. There are 42 delegates in a “winner-takes-most” formula.
“The Democrats” – That same Marquette University Law School Poll has it 49 percent for Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and 45 percent for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with six percent undecided. There are 96 Democratic delegates up for grabs, delivered proportionally, with some super delegates in the mix.
“The Turning Point” – It would be fascinating if the two non-frontrunners win. Cruz and Sanders would get great momentum out of a Wisconsin victory. It might not guarantee them the nomination, but it muddies the waters, and makes people in key, upcoming states such as Pennsylvania scratch their heads and wonder, “Do I go for the underdog, who now has the momentum?” Make no mistake, my bet is on a Trump v. Clinton race, but Wisconsin may be the last state where votes can turn the tide by saying, “Now wait just a minute!”
“Delegate Totals” – Right now on the Republican side the delegate totals read: Trump 736; Cruz 463; and, Kasich 143. If Cruz is going to make a final dash to beat Trump, it has to start Tuesday in Wisconsin. Presently, Cruz s not polling well in the upcoming key states of New York and Pennsylvania, so he needs momentum now. As I’ve said for weeks, Kasich is just in this to get the VP slot on the ticket; that’s his only hope.
“Dem Delegates” – Bernie Sanders has a similar path as Cruz, but Wisconsin is the turning point where you turn on the jets, or you flame out. As of now, Hillary Clinton has1,243 delegates; to 980 for Bernie Sanders.
“Social Issues, Not!” – This is the year where national security and terrorism will be the big issues, and may surpass the economy as the number one issue to most voters. Social issues are just a blip on the radar screen. So I was surprised that Donald Trump would say if abortion became illegal again, that women who’ve had them should be punished. Yes, he walked back those remarks to say that doctors – and not the women – should be punished, but by then the self-inflicted wound was done. Trump’s greatest gift is that he speaks off the cuff, and unscripted. That’s also his Achilles heel. You can’t walk into an interview with someone who’s been around as long as Chris Matthews and let your guard down. The comments may seal Trump’s fate in Wisconsin.
“The Maverick State” – Wisconsin has a history of sending some mavericks to public office. Senator “Fighting” Bob La Follette, Senator Joe McCarthy, Senator Bill Proxmire, Governor Lee Dreyfus, and, Senator Herb Kohl are among them. The fact that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus also hail from the Badger State should tell you something. Wisconsin likes its unpredictable, but independent streak, and it may show it again on Tuesday so watch out!
“Why this State Matters!” -- Wisconsin is almost always listed as one of the key, battleground states in every Presidential election, and 2016 will not be an exception. It was crucial to John Kennedy in 1960, and critical to Barack Obama in 2008. What happens in both parties on Tuesday matters, and it will matter again in November. The Badger State will also be crucial in terms of who controls the U.S. Senate as former Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) is locked in a tough rematch with Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI). Keep your eye on the Cheesehead State! (That’s me and my book about the 2008 campaign, standing outside the historic “Mars Cheese Castle” in Kenosha, Wisconsin).
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© 2016, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.
Photo courtesy: Tierney Curtis for Mark Curtis Media, LLC