Trump's Bad Night in the Badger State

Kamil Krzaczynski / Reuters
Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Wisconsin is a no-drama kind of state, and its primary Tuesday was a no-drama contest: The race was called early, with Ted Cruz beating Donald Trump on the Republican side and Bernie Sanders winning again for the Democrats. The politics team tracked the action all day. Here’s my analysis:

If Donald Trump isn’t the Republican Party’s presidential nominee come November, his loss in Wisconsin on Tuesday may be remembered as his Waterloo. That is, of course, a reference to Napoleon’s final battle, and not to the tiny town in Jefferson County—though Trump was headed for a loss there as well.

Across the Badger State, Senator Ted Cruz beat Trump handily. Cruz still badly trails Trump in the delegate count, but by taking the lion’s share of Wisconsin’s delegates, the Texan makes it harder for Trump to reach the magic threshold of 1,237  delegates he needs to clinch the nomination. That, in turn, means the GOP is more likely to go its convention in Cleveland with its nominee undecided.

On the Democratic side, Senator Bernie Sanders notched another win over Hillary Clinton. The result is a moral boost for Sanders’s campaign, but thanks to Democrats’ proportional representation rules, he splits the state’s delegates with Clinton. That leaves him still trailing her by around 200 pledged delegates. (With superdelegates included, her lead is much larger.)

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