Republican US presidential candidates (L-R) Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich stand together at a Republican candidates debate on March 10.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – The outcome of Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary in Wisconsin has increased the likelihood that no candidate will secure the enough delegates to clinch his party’s nomination at its convention in July.
Republican Party rules require a candidate win a majority of pledged delegates – 1,237 – to automatically secure the nomination. But repeated victories by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as well as clever maneuvering by his team to pick up unassigned delegates have complicated the path of front-runner Donald J. Trump, real estate tycoon and media personality, who still maintains a substantial delegate lead.
Cruz won Wisconsin on Tuesday convincingly, with a spread of 12 percentage points, critical in a state that allocates its delegates proportionally.
Trump is favored to win several of the remaining delegate- rich states to come, many of which operate on a winner-take-all basis – chief among them, New York, his home state, on April 19.
But victories in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania will not be enough for Trump to clinch the nomination. He will have to also win convincingly in states such as Indiana and California, considered more competitive, as well as Western states considered favorable terrain for Cruz.
In a blistering statement after his Wisconsin loss, Trump said Cruz has become the vehicle by which Republican establishment figures hope to stop his candidacy.
“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,” his campaign said.
And those party bosses, including Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, are now openly discussing the prospects of an open convention – the first of its kind in decades for the Grand Old Party.
In such a scenario, the first ballot at the convention would reflect the delegate map secured through the voting process. But on consecutive ballots, individual states would begin releasing delegates from their pledges.
Several states, however, choose delegates to the convention whose personal convictions reflect their pledged voting requirements. So many delegates, once released from that pledge, are still expected to vote for Trump.
The campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is hoping for a similar scenario on the Democratic side, his campaign manager said on Tuesday, after their victory in Wisconsin against former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
But Sanders must overcome extraordinary hurdles to stop Clinton, much less to outpace her in the delegate count. If he were to win every state going forward by a 10-point margin – including New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California, where she is favored – he still would not clinch the nomination.
But he would prevent her from clinching it herself ahead of the Democratic convention in July.
Sanders’s pitch to New York was complicated this week by an interview he granted to the New York Daily News
, in which he offered few details on plans to break up America’s biggest banks – a cornerstone of his campaign.
He also said that improved relations with Israel under a Sanders administration will be based on Israel’s policy choices toward the Palestinians.
“I lived in Israel. I have family in Israel. I believe 100 percent not only in Israel’s right to exist, a right to exist in peace and security without having to face terrorist attacks,” Sanders said. “But from the United States’ point of view, I think, long-term, we cannot ignore the reality that you have large numbers of Palestinians who are suffering now, poverty rate off the charts, unemployment off the charts, Gaza remaining a destroyed area.
“I think it is fair to say that the level of [Israeli] attacks against civilian areas,” Sanders continued, on his perspective on the Gaza war of 2014 (Operation Cast Lead), “and I do know that the Palestinians, some of them, were using civilian areas to launch missiles. Makes it very difficult.
But I think most international observers would say that the attacks against Gaza were indiscriminate and that a lot of innocent people were killed who should not have been killed.”