If Donald Trump loses big to Ted Cruz in Wisconsin on Tuesday the GOP race for President will take a marked turn.
In the state of Wisconsin which is “winner take most” (and based on how well you do “winner take all”) it is possible that Trump could yield 40 delegates to Ted Cruz. Fundraising, momentum, and what is increasingly proving to be the savviest ground game in the business will have new energy and a renewed focus.
But if Ted Cruz wins Wisconsin, it’s merely the “next” win in what has been a number of victories building since this two week lull hit the primary calendar.
All of it 100% legal, all of it ethical, all of it driving to the point that among the three campaigns that are left–of which there are actually only two contenders–that there is only one campaign specifically focused on achieving the 1237 delegates on the earliest ballot they will be able to.
Two weeks ago when Louisiana’s GOP began deciding what to do with the unbound delegates of candidates who have dropped from the race TeamCruz did what all the candidates should’ve had the insight to do. They sent representatives to contest for them. The net result appears to have given #CruzCrew five additional delegates and since the split in elected delegates was razor thin, Cruz landed a bigger haul for the state than Trump.
Yesterday on the Sunday shows, Trump WHINED about this.
Instead of doing what Cruz did, sending a delegation, making a presentation, contesting for the unbound delegates, Trump sat back and did nothing. Only when he realized that Cruz had bested him by knowing the rules and the process better did the Marketer-In-Chief begin with the chorus of “we were cheated.” Which they weren’t… They were beaten. (+5 on Ballot 2: Cruz)
This past weekend the organization prowess continued to win states for Cruz as Colorado and North Dakota began their delegate conventions. On Saturday/Sunday Cruz picked up 100% of the Colorado delegates elected for Congressional Districts 1 & 6. The attestation of the sweep being that Cruz personnel are in the convention doing their job. They are making the case for their candidate. And most importantly they are winning the hearts and minds. (+6 for Cruz, potentially +34)
Similarly in North Dakota, Sunday concluded a three day candidate convention. Trump sent Carson, Kasich–who knows, and Cruz sent Fiorina. But Cruz was also the only one of the candidates that actually ended up attending and giving a speech to the convention. Fiorina (and lots of other staffers) arrived prior to Cruz’s arrival, and she and the delegation stayed after he was gone and all the way through the election of the delegate slate. As a result Cruz won as many as 72% of the elected delegate slate. Late on Sunday night I spoke with my colleague Steve Deace who had been on the phone with forces on the ground and he expressed his belief that as many as 27 of the 28 total delegates coming from North Dakota would go for Cruz. (+20-27 for Cruz)
This morning the Washington Examiner revealed details of the internal workings of the Arizona delegate convention. Now according to the popular vote Trump will get 58 votes on the first ballot at the GOP convention (if he decides to remain a republican that far into the future.) But because of TeamCruz’s organization in Arizona 55 of the 58 delegates–once unbound are actually delegates that would in all likelihood vote Cruz. (+55 on Ballot 2: Cruz)
And all of this before tomorrow’s big prize in Wisconsin of 42 delegates (winner take most/all).
On a second ballot at the convention–this particular calendar week(end) alone could yield a swing of 163 delegates which offsets a win in New York should Cruz fail to land any of the proportional delegate haul here. At the very least he looks to secure more than 100 additional delegates on ballot one.
And this isn’t where the good news ends. Cruz is showing increasing strength in California. A Los Angeles Times poll there last week had Trump 38/Cruz 37 with a 4+ margin of error. Trump’s philosophy is going to be to buy a lot of media and attempt to win the state on-the-air. But in a democratically dominant state the GOP on the ground are more insulated from media, and much more activist in nature. And heavily democrat districts (San Francisco/Los Angeles) will yield much bigger payoffs in rooms much less populated than the heavily competitive republican districts.
Trump hasn’t spent the man power nor the money to try to compete in ground games.
In fact as best as any can tell his idea of a campaign has been to hold rallies, buy some media, and hope for the best. The next piece of the strategy is to whine like mad when someone outfoxes you on unbound delegates and how to secure them. Or getting their people to be the actual delegates that become unbound after the first ballot at the GOP convention.
Once the primary has come and gone it appears so has all the Trump infrastructure. But the state conventions still matter and focusing on the multiple paths to 1237 is something that he should be/or should have paid attention to.
What you have here is a cult of personality who believes he should just be given the nomination.
And an actual campaign that is out beating the bushes to work for every single vote.
Soon we will know much more about which approach worked the best…
Especially if Trump loses Wisconsin.