When the 2016 race kicked kicked off last year, few pundits would have predicted Wisconsin’s April primary might be a game changer on both sides of the aisle. But the Badger state, which heads to the polls today, could be key in determining if the Republicans head to a contested convention and if Sen. Bernie Sanders retains momentum after five straight victories.
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Here’s a rundown of everything at stake today.
State voting: Wisconsin
Delegates up for grabs: 42
Delegate Allocation explained: Of the 42 delegates, 24 are in Congressional districts, (3 in each of the 8 districts) and 18 are at-large delegates. The at-large delegates are winner-take-all and based on the statewide vote. Whoever wins the statewide vote gets all 18 delegates. The Congressional districts are winner-take-all based on district. So, for example, if Ted Cruz wins one Congressional district, he will get all 3 of the delegates there. If he wins all 8 districts, he will get all 24 delegates.
Why it matters: The setup makes it possible for the winner to sweep all 42 delegates, and makes it even more likely they will amass a majority. This presents an ideal opportunity for Cruz and John Kasich, who are trying to stop Donald Trump from clinching the 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination. The latest Marquette University Law School poll showed Cruz with 40-30 lead over Trump. Trump leads Cruz by 262 delegates, but Trump still needs to win 57 percent of the remaining delegates to get to 1,237. If Cruz wins big in Wisconsin, he makes Trump's path to that number more complicated. And if John Kasich manages to win one or 2 congressional districts, that would set Trump back even further.
However, Trump does have one advantage: Wisconsin is an open primary, where he tends to perform better than in caucuses and closed primaries.
State voting: Wisconsin
Delegates up for grabs: 86 pledged, and 10 superdelegates, former and current Democratic leaders and elected officials, who can select the candidate of their choosing, wherever they want and whenever they want, and can switch at any time.
Delegate Allocation explained: As is standard for the Democrats, both candidates have to get a minimum of 15 percent of the vote to amass any delegates. Both Clinton and Sanders are virtually certain to hit that threshold.
Why it matters: Sanders has proven he can play in the Midwest, beating Clinton in Michigan and coming in close behind her in Missouri and Illinois. According to a recent Marquette University Law School poll, he has a four point lead over her. Clinton leads Sanders by 263 pledged delegates, and her lead widens to 701 delegates when incorporating the superdelegates who have committed to her. Even if Clinton loses in Wisconsin, Sanders is unlikely to make a dent in that delegate lead; If the race is as close as the polls are forecasting, the Vermont senator is unlikely to gain many more delegates. And while Clinton needs to win 42 percent of the remaining pledged delegates, Sanders needs to win 57 percent. When factoring in superdelegates, Clinton need to win 36 percent and Sanders needs to win 73 percent.
But while math may be on her side, a loss in Wisconsin would mean Clinton heads into her adopted home state of New York having lost six states in two weeks -- a fact Sanders is well aware of.
"I don’t want to get Hillary Clinton any more nervous than she already is," he said at a campaign stop Monday in Wisconsin. "So don’t tell her this, but we win here, we win in New York State, we are on our way to the White House."