On Wisconsin

On Wisconsin

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

As the candidates face the Wisconsin primaries on Tuesday, both parties face some critical moments and decisions. How they resolve them, may well determine not only the candidates, but the November election results as well. Both the Clinton and Trump campaigns face significant challenges which may well determine possible electability in November.

If Clinton wins or loses Wisconsin, it seems at this point that she almost surely is going to be the Democratic nominee. There will be more challenges and battles before the final primaries are decided, but the real key question still remaining for the Democrats are how many delegates Bernie actually will amasses; how he will treat not being the nominee; and–most importantly—how engaged he will be in trying to prevail on his disappointed troops to turn out in large numbers for Hillary. Should he express the slightest reticence or should he not vigorous endorse her, could have a dramatic effect on her ability to prevail in November. It also could impact, conceivably on the Democrats’ ability to retake the Senate.

For the Republicans, the Wisconsin primary may well be the watershed for the stop Trump campaign. If Cruz wins Wisconsin, it will set off the signals that Trump can indeed be stopped—although necessarily by him. First, the odds on Trump getting a first ballot nomination will be reduced significantly. Second, an alternative nominee—Cruz or someone else–could be a real reality in wide-open contested convention. It will require sustained pressure against Trump by the GOP until June, but it will indicate that it is still doable.

For the Trump supporters, there is a real question as to whether they will accept an alternative to Trump; whether they will take to the streets and riot in Cleveland if he is denied the nomination; and whether Trump would run as independent if does not receive the GOP nomination.

For the Democrats, if Trump is nominated all polls suggest that he will lose badly. Similarly, if he runs as an independent he will split all the Republican and conservative votes, virtually guaranteeing Hillary the election.  On the other hand, if some of the other possible candidates who could emerge—other than Cruz—they might well give Hillary a much more competitive election fight. For Clinton to win especially against a non-Trump candidate—Kasich, Ryan, Romney, Jeb or unknown–truly will require all of Bernie’s supporters or she could lose to a non-Trump candidate.

This is what the Wisconsin election may well indicate. 

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