Ted Cruz beats Donald Trump handily in a new Wisconsin poll, released Wednesday, less than a week before the state’s primary next Tuesday. The state’s most reliable pollster shows the Texas senator 10 points ahead of the real estate tycoon.
The Marquette Law School poll also gives Bernie Sanders a slight lead over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic race. If Tuesday night sees similar results, Clinton and Sanders will split the delegates nearly equally, while Cruz will score at least 15 more delegates than Trump.
Cruz wins 40 percent of likely GOP voters, while Trump claims 30 percent. John Kasich holds a strong third place at 21 percent. Eight percent remain undecided.
The last Marquette poll, in February, showed Trump in the lead with 30 percent, with Marco Rubio in second place at 20 percent and Cruz right behind him at 19 percent. Kasich tied Ben Carson for fourth place, at 8 percent. Wednesday’s poll hints that Cruz may have consolidated Rubio’s support, while Trump remains stagnant.
A Cruz victory would net him at least 15 delegates, which are awarded to the statewide winner. If Cruz wins by double digits, as in this poll, he could sweep the state’s eight congressional districts, each of which will award three additional delegates to the winner.
Trump is not just stagnant in his support, however. Only 22 percent of registered voters had a favorable opinion of Trump, while 70 percent viewed him unfavorably. A full 56 percent of Wisconsin voters say they would be “very uncomfortable” with Trump as president. By comparison, 42 percent say the same of Clinton. Fewer say the same of Cruz (32 percent), Sanders (31 percent), and Kasich (12 percent).
The poll was conducted between March 24 and March 28, prior to Gov. Scott Walker’s endorsement of Cruz on Tuesday. Marquette University and pollster Charles Franklin have a strong track record in Wisconsin, as their final polls accurately predicted victories for Scott Walker and Barack Obama in 2012, and Walker winning a second term in 2014.
Next Page: Will Wisconsin Make or Break Ted Cruz’s Chances?
This poll is in line with Trump’s declining popularity across the country. It props up Ted Cruz in the RealClearPolitics polling average of Wisconsin, where the Texas senator leads 34.8 percent to Trump’s 31.8 percent and Kasich’s 22.5 percent. Walker’s endorsement might propel Cruz even further.
In Utah, Cruz won the first outright majority in any state in the GOP primary, with 69.2 percent support. Nevertheless, he trails badly in the race overall, with 463 delegates to Trump’s 736 delegates. Either will need 1,237 — a majority of the delegates plus one — to win the race outright. It is mathematically impossible for Kasich, who has 143 delegates, to win outright.
Wisconsin’s 42 delegates might give Cruz a symbolic victory, but not much more than that. He needs around 80 percent of the remaining delegates to win the race, so he can ill afford to lose any states. Trump, however, still needs above 50 percent of the available delegates to win, so Cruz and Kasich may be able to keep The Donald from victory.