NEW YORK, April 5, 2016 — Not since Vince Lombardi roamed the sidelines in Green Bay have Americans seen such a pair of one-sided Wisconsin beatings.
There is no way to spin the results of the Wisconsin primaries. On the GOP side, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz crushed businessman Donald Trump by double digits. Democrats saw Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders trounce former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by an equally large margin.
The media spin is that Trump and Clinton are inevitable. They both hold delegate leads that cannot be overtaken. The reality is that these frontrunners are staggering and on the verge of collapse.
Normally both parties eventually fall in line behind their respective frontrunners. There is nothing normal about election 2016.
Sanders has beaten Clinton in seven of the last eight contests. Clinton has become increasingly testy, snapping at ordinary citizens asking innocent questions. After threatening not to debate Sanders anymore, she has now agreed to debate him in Brooklyn on April 14. Clinton debates only when she is in danger of losing. With help from the Democrat National Committee, every effort was made to limit the number of debates. Every time Sanders wins, she returns to the negotiating table.
Clinton supporters insist that the superdelegates will give her the win, but this only feeds into the Sanders narrative of the DNC as a corrupt entity in the tank for Clinton.
Meanwhile, Trump collapsed in Wisconsin due to a series of unforced errors. What Trump still has not figured out is that national polls are irrelevant. The nomination is not a national contest, but 50 state contests. Trump’s anti-establishment message failed in Wisconsin because Wisconsin Republicans like their elected officials. House Speaker Paul Ryan is a source of hometown pride. Gov. Scott Walker is a union-crushing hero on the right. Most endorsements do not matter, but Walker’s endorsement of Cruz was a major factor in Cruz’s victory.
Trump and Clinton are in the lead, but so were Edmund Muskie and Gary Hart.
Trump has millions of followers who worship him. An even larger number of Americans loathe him. His campaign has taken on the feel of a messianic cult. Senator Barack Obama showed that a cult of personality can win the White House. More often than not, the result is a Ron Paul or Pat Buchanan ending. Republicans in particular tend to prefer candidates who wish to build bridges rather than burn them down.
Clinton is being reminded on a daily basis that the problem with her campaign is Hillary Clinton. The idea of Hillary Clinton inspires people. Hillary Clinton herself is boring. She wins contests with large majorities of black people. In white states, she gets clobbered.
On the surface, New York should allow Trump and Clinton to right their respective ships and march on to the general election. This is wishful thinking on their part. Both Cruz and Sanders have momentum and an entire two weeks to prepare for New York. They both have plenty of money to remain competitive throughout the summer until the conventions arrive. New York is not a winner-take-all state, allowing Cruz and Sanders to continue to rack up delegates.
The only matter settled on Wisconsin Tuesday came from Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The owner of the local delicatessen won as many Wisconsin delegates as Kasich did, a whopping zero. Every Republican in America is now one of the top three presidential contenders from a competitive standpoint.
With March Madness complete, the 2016 presidential election is firmly down to its final four. Thanks to Wisconsin, the final four will not be reduced to the final two any time soon.