The Note: What Went Wrong For Trump and Clinton in Wisconsin

April 6, 2016, 8:54 AM


--TRUMP SEES A CEILING, WHILE SANDERS FINDS HIS SWEET SPOT: Anti-Donald Trump voters coalesced around Ted Cruz in the Wisconsin presidential primary, raising the specter of a ceiling for the GOP frontrunner. In the Democratic race, young voters and men handed Bernie Sanders a fresh chance to exploit Hillary Clinton’s vulnerabilities on style and substance alike, ABC’s GARY LANGER, GREGORY HOLYK  CHAD and KIEWIET DE JONGE write. While Trump finished about as well as usual in most groups, Cruz far outperformed his support in previous primaries, running +35 points among voters looking for an experienced candidate, +25 among mainline Republicans and voters focused on shared values and +24 those who cited the economy as their main concern and among strong conservatives. Those groups stood out in the network exit poll, analyzed for ABC News by Langer Research Associates. But Cruz eclipsed his usual numbers across the board – suggesting a generalized, not issue-specific, anti-Trump vote.

--BEHIND THE GOP NUMBERS: Trump’s done poorly with voters looking for a candidate who “shares my values” or who “can bring needed change” in the past, and did so again, with just 10 percent support. The difference was that Cruz won 65 percent of values voters in Wisconsin, up from his previous average of 40 percent. Bringing needed change, by contrast, has been a better Trump group – he’s won voters focused on this attribute by 2-1 over Cruz, 46-23 percent, in previous contests. In Wisconsin, by contrast, it was a 42-42 percent tie in this group – again similar to previous results for Trump, far better for Cruz. Six in 10 Trump voters in Wisconsin said they were excited about what he’d do as president. But more than half of Cruz’s supporters, and two-thirds John Kasich’s, said they were “scared” of what Trump would do in the White House – a remarkable rejection of the leading candidate in the race.

--BEHIND THE DEMOCRATIC NUMBERS: Sanders benefitted both from the demographics and from advantages over Clinton in excitement, inspiration and perceived honesty alike. He won particularly broad support from men, 63 percent – better than anywhere save New Hampshire and Vermont – while splitting women evenly with Clinton. He won liberals by 18 points, and they made up a record share of the state’s primary electorate by a wide margin. He won whites under age 45 by a huge margin, with 78 percent support, among his best results in this group to date. As in other Northern states – but not in the South – Sanders also ran competitively among nonwhites younger than 45, winning them by 56-43 percent.

--ANALYSIS -- ABC’s RICK KLEIN: If Wisconsin marks an inflection point, it may be one that applies to the candidates as much as it does voters. To the question of whether Donald Trump is capable of or interested in changing course, one might answer that he’s already done that. His combative, blustery concession statement late Tuesday notwithstanding, Wisconsin was the state where he first started backtracking on positions and campaign moves, and recognizing a particular weakness among female voters. He’s already announced a series of policy speeches. As for Ted Cruz, he’s already begun to change his tune, if only gradually, toward a more inclusive, general-election theme that can appeal to all Republicans and even some Democrats, while targeting Hillary Clinton. Cruz’s efforts to cozy up to the establishment take on new urgency in the run-up to northeastern states where he isn’t widely popular. So even as the campaign shifts, the candidates are moving, too.



WHAT SANDERS SAID ABOUT HIS WIN: "With our victory tonight in Wisconsin, we have now won seven out of eight of the last caucuses and primaries and we have won almost all of them with overwhelming landslide numbers," Sanders said at an event in Wyoming last night, according to ABC’s MEGHAN KENEALLY. Sanders already began fundraising off of his victory, sending out an email to supporters declaring “an overwhelming victory.” Clinton tweeted a message of congratulations to her rival: “Congrats to @BernieSanders on winning Wisconsin. To all the voters and volunteers who poured your hearts into this campaign: Forward! –H”

WHAT CRUZ SAID ABOUT HIS WIN: “God bless the great state of Wisconsin,” Cruz declared in a victory speech in Milwaukee last night. ” He also noted that his campaign raised over $2 million on Tuesday alone. In his remarks, Cruz called last night’s primary a defining moment in the race, ABC’s VERONICA STRACQUALURSI notes. “Tonight is a turning point. It is rallying cry,” Cruz said. “It is a call from the hard working men and women of Wisconsin to the people of America. We have a choice. A real choice.”

WORD FROM TRUMPWORLD: The Trump campaign released a statement Tuesday night following Cruz's win and victory speech. In the statement, the Trump campaign accused Cruz of coordinating with his Super PAC and of being "a Trojan horse," working in cahoots with the Republican establishment wing to "steal the nomination" from Trump. "Donald J. Trump withstood the onslaught of the establishment yet again," the statement read. "Lyin’ Ted Cruz had the Governor of Wisconsin, many conservative talk radio show hosts, and the entire party apparatus behind him...Ted Cruz is worse than a puppet -- he is a Trojan horse, being used by the party bosses attempting to steal the nomination from Mr. Trump."

TRUMP GROWS WEAKER, SETTING UP FURTHER REPUBLICAN CHAOS. Wisconsin will go down as the state that turned the tide -- or that turns the minds of anxious Republicans to what might have been, ABC’s RICK KLEIN notes. Donald Trump’s loss proves a point the anti-Trump forces have been making with varying intensity for months. He was blown out, losing broadly and decisively in a big battleground state, in a winnowed field and in a primary that was open to independents as well as GOP regulars. “Tonight is a turning point. It is a rallying cry,” Ted Cruz said in declaring victory, in words that his erstwhile enemies in the Republican establishment would gladly endorse at this point in the race. Trump’s support is stalling among Republican voters, and his failure to close out his rivals speaks to his potential weakness in a general election. Tuesday’s results show the GOP frontrunner can be beaten soundly in places where the case against Trump is prosecuted in a sustained way -- and perhaps helped along when Trump himself plays into those arguments with his own behavior.

CLINTON ON ‘THE VIEW’ SAYS ‘OF COURSE YOU CAN BE A FEMINIST AND BE PRO-LIFE’. Hillary Clinton told the women of “The View” Tuesday that although she is “pro-choice” on abortion rights, “of course, you can be a feminist and be pro-life.” “Yes, I do, absolutely,” Clinton said during her first appearance on the show as a presidential candidate when asked by co-host Candace Bure if she believes someone can be both a feminist and against abortion, ABC’s LIZ KREUTZ reports. “Absolutely,” the Democratic front-runner said. "Look, I've been, and I'm sure that Whoopi and Joy have been, we've been in these conversations now for, what, 40-plus years, right? And I respect the opinions and beliefs of every woman. The reason why being pro-choice is the right way to go is because it is a choice and hopefully a choice that is rooted in the thoughtfulness and the care that women bring to this decision. So, of course you can be a feminist and be pro-life.”

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events