Wisconsin has an important place in our nation’s political history as both the birthplace of the Republican Party in the town of Ripon, and the state that spawned the Progressive movement in the first couple of decades of the 20th Century led by Robert LaFollette. Under the leadership of LaFollette and fellow Republican Hiram Johnson of California, election reforms like direct election in primaries, recall of public elected officials, ballot initiatives and referenda were instituted injecting direct democracy into their respective state systems.
More recently, Governor Scott Walker challenged the near hegemonic control of the state’s public employee unions over state government through a series of reforms that caused the capitol to roil with bureaucrat protesters.
Now Wisconsin will be playing an important role in the presidential selection process. On the GOP side, the state is extremely important to the underdog bid by Senator Ted Cruz with businessman Donald Trump hoping to capture the populist history of the state and sneak a primary win out of the dairy state.
The Republican primary is doubly important because Wisconsin is the home state of Paul Ryan who ascended to the Speakership of the House in an almost accidental manner. With this being the first election since the Ryan speakership began, and two outsiders dominating the national Republican landscape, Wisconsin Republican primary voter’s decision on the presidency will be sliced and diced by national political pundits in the media.
On the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton’s aura of invincibility has been shattered as she faces a double threat this upcoming week.
The long reported FBI investigation into her mishandling of classified material during her tenure as Secretary of State should be nearing a head as Director Jim Comey is rumored to be planning to personally interview the former Secretary as soon as next week. Not exactly a great development in her already faltering campaign.
Clinton’s other political challenge is that Democratic primary voters don’t seem to like her a whole bunch. Her Socialist Party member opponent Bernie Sanders has swamped her in five of the past six contests between them, but unfortunately for Sanders, the Democratic Party is anything but.
Clinton’s nomination push has been bolstered and may be invincible due to the fealty to her from the Democratic Party bosses who serve as superdelegates to the nominating convention. At this writing Clinton’s lead over Sanders expands from 268 delegates to 708 due to the influence of these power brokers. At this date, Clinton, in spite of her campaign woes, is a mere 671 delegates from the nomination with Sanders needing 1,379 to win, a near impossible road.
With recent polls showing Clinton only enjoying a six-point advantage in the dairy state and given the enthusiasm gap that favors Sanders, Hillary very well could face a primary upset that cascades into the big delegate states of New York and California. At least that is what Sanders hopes occurs.
On the GOP side, Cruz holds a ten-point edge over Trump with Kasich a distant third. A Trump victory in Wisconsin would prove devastating to the Cruz efforts, while a poor showing by Trump would give additional hope to those who seek to poke holes in the aura of inevitability that the political novice is attempting to create as he attempts to unite the GOP.
No matter what happens, Trump will point to the New York primary as his big opportunity to stockpile delegates as he is only 502 away from becoming the presumptive nominee. Ted Cruz, in contrast, is 766 delegates from winning with only 924 remaining to be selected.
Given these numbers, Wisconsin voters can either keep the remaining hopes of the second place competitors in both parties alive or effectively put a fork in them, an outcome that will become clear in just a few days.
This is a guest post by Rick Manning President of Americans for Limited Government.