Wisconsin primary results: Trump, Clinton less likely to clinch

Sanders exceeded our pre-primary delegate estimate, picking up 48 instead of the 47 we projected to net a total of 10 delegates.  Cruz also exceeded expectations, hauling in 36 delegates instead of the 30 we projected.  The error there was all Kasich underperforming; our estimate showed him performing stronger in the 2nd and 3rd Congressional districts, where it look like he will have actually come in third.

The results don’t alter our convention projections much, which point to a likely contested convention for the Republicans.  On the Democratic side, it remains unlikely that Sanders will catch Clinton in pledged delegates, but it does look like superdelegates will have to get the winning candidate over the nomination threshold:

Sanders win cuts Clinton's lead to around 250. She has a chance on April 19th and 26th to extend the lead in such a way that make it nearly impossible for Sanders to catch her.
Sanders win cuts Clinton’s lead to around 250. She has a chance on April 19th and 26th to extend the lead in such a way that make it nearly impossible for Sanders to catch her.
GOP race post Wisconsin
Trump’s growth is stunted, but a winner-take-all for New York’s 95 delegates could have him on his way.

Sanders will likely do well in the small, western caucus state of Wyoming this weekend, but with only 14 delegates in play (and notable differences between the electorate in Wyoming and New York), it’s hard to see that contest changing the race considerably.

Instead, all eyes turn to New York.  On the Democratic side, our model projects a 10-point Clinton victory to net 23 delegates (winning 135 to Sanders’ 112).  State-level polls from Maryland and Pennsylvania also show her leading in those big April 26 states where we project her to pick up another 28 delegates.  Those two weeks would erase Sanders’ impressive rally over the past few weeks.  With Sanders’ big Wisconsin win and the age of the data in the upcoming states, it’s easy to see those numbers changing – and with them the completion of the race.  New York is, in essence, Sanders’ last shot to change the race.

On the Republican side, our baseline projection has Trump, who’s polling at 51.4%, picking up all 95 delegates.  New York awards 81 of its delegates at the Congressional district level, and the remaining for the statewide winner.  In 2014, 14 of the 27 Congressional districts elected a Democrat to the House of Representatives by more than a 10-point margin.  It’s difficult to see those districts giving over half of their vote to Trump to trigger the winner-take-all rules there, so it’s likely that Cruz (or Kasich, about whom we’ll have to write a more-speculative column) chip into the 95-delegate haul.  Our most-generous projection predicts Trump getting 1,192 of the 1,237 delegates he needs before the convention, with 122 delegates unbound on the first ballot.  A 44-delegate margin may put him in striking distance, but losing delegates on some blue districts in New York (and, in June, in California) could put him just out of reach.

Wisconsin projections

A quick word on what to expect tonight:  Cruz is likely to win Wisconsin, and may do so by nearly double digits.  Our delegate projection shows him wining around 43% of the vote, with a delegate breakdown of Cruz 30, Trump 9, and Kasich 6.  Trump and Kasich will depend on winning Congressional districts.  While Kasich will likely do well in blue districts near Milwaukee and Madison, it’s isn’t unreasonable to expect Trump to underperform the projection above if he’s lagging behind Cruz so far in the statewide tally.  This projection has trump ending up short of the 1,237 delegates he needs by around 40.  The key to watch for will be whether Trump picks up fewer than 9 delegates.  If he does, expect “Trump has lost momentum” stories to increase through New York.

On the Democratic side, our projection shows Sanders winning by 10 points, taking 47 delegates to Clinton’s 39 to chip away another 8 delegates into her 200-delegate lead.  That, however, won’t be the story if he wins by such a margin.  The story will be whether Clinton can hold on to the 10-point margin she currently enjoys in New York.  If she does, she’ll net 23 delegates and mostly erase Sanders’ gains over the past few weeks and effectively cut off any chance he has of catching her in the pledged delegate count.  Sanders knows this, and is investing heavily in both Wisconsin and New York to keep his campaign alive.  The key to this race will be whether Sanders captures more than 55 percent of the vote.  Doing so will give him a decent delegate margin in the state, and probably signal more difficulty for Clinton in New York.


Will Clinton get 400 delegates tonight?

Before voting opened, we said that 400 was Hillary Clinton’s “over perform” number, expecting her to pull in closer to 368 delegates.  We’ll update the delegate counts in the morning, but it looks like she’ll hit that 400 target. Combined with the narrative of winning 5 of 5 states (if only just), she would seem to be back on track to get the 2,383 delegates see needs without dipping into her superdelegate reserve.  She should have a 300-330 delegate lead when she wakes up tomorrow. For context, Sanders would need to win every delegate in the next seven states just to catch up. He needs blowouts in places like Wisconsin and Washington to even start chipping into the lead.