Just a few weeks ago, many mainstream pundits were prematurely calling the contest for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations in favor of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, respectively. On Tuesday night, Bernie Sanders’ and Ted Cruz’s significant wins in the Wisconsin primary showed that the races are far from over.

Despite Trump’s multiple below-the-belt hits at Cruz, the real estate tycoon couldn’t lure voters away from the Texas senator, who enjoyed full-throated support of Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker. As the results came in that evening, Cruz wasted no time in framing his big score as a sign of things to come (via The Washington Post):

Ted Cruz rolled to a landslide victory Tuesday in Wisconsin’s hotly contested Republican presidential primary, capitalizing on a difficult stretch for Donald Trump to cut into the front-runner’s overall delegate lead and deliver a psychological blow to the billionaire mogul.

Though the senator from Texas is reviled by many party leaders for his explosive and polarizing brand of politics, Cruz won over establishment Republicans as well as grass-roots conservative activists across this state who had come together in an urgent push to stop Trump. Late returns showed him leading Trump by a wide margin.

Cruz hopes his Wisconsin win transforms the trajectory of the race. Wisconsin adds a important Midwestern bellwether to the basket of mostly Southern or rural states he has won to date, giving the Texan evidence that he can appeal beyond ultra-conservative and religious voters.

Savoring his biggest night since winning the kickoff Iowa caucuses in February, Cruz declared before cheering supporters here in Milwaukee: “Tonight is a turning point. It is a rallying cry. It is a call from the hardworking men and women of Wisconsin to the people of America: We have a choice — a real choice.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, Sanders beat Clinton by a very comfortable margin of 12.5 points, making Wisconsin his sixth state in a recent spree of primary triumphs. The New York Times put the Democrats’ race in context following this latest development:

Mr. Sanders’s victory came after he had hardly left Wisconsin in recent days, pouring his energy and resources into securing a win that would help him put to rest any doubts that he could capture a major primary state, and providing his campaign with renewed focus as he strives for an upset in New York, Mrs. Clinton’s adopted home state.

His victory signaled vulnerabilities that have trailed Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy, amid persistent criticism about her paid speeches to Wall Street banks and email practices while serving as secretary of state. In Wisconsin, Mr. Sanders held a significant edge among voters who said they wanted a candidate who cares about people like them. Nine in 10 voters said the Vermont senator was honest and trustworthy, compared with six in 10 who said the same about Mrs. Clinton, according to exit polls of voters from Edison Research.

“I’m not a candidate who goes to the unions, goes to workers and then leaves and goes to a fund-raiser with Wall Street,” Mr. Sanders told a crowd in Janesville on Monday. “You are my family.”

What does Tuesday’s news mean for the all-important delegate count? Click here to find out.

—Posted by Kasia Anderson


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