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Donald Trump Doesn’t Need to Win Wisconsin

Donald Trump in Washington, DC.Donald Trump in Washington, DC.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump Photograph by Jabin Botsford—The Washington Post/Getty Images

On April 5, Republicans in Wisconsin will head to the polls in the biggest primary contest since Donald Trump won Arizona and Ted Cruz won Utah on March 22. Wisconsin offers 42 delegates, with the winner of the contest taking all.

Wisconsin is a pivotal state. But it matters far more to Cruz than it does to Trump.

If Trump wins, it will be another feather in his cap and make his chances of taking nomination that much better. He doesn’t need the win, but it could be something close to a knockout punch to his remaining rivals.

Cruz, though, needs a Wisconsin victory. The only reasonable chance he has of winning is by denying Trump the 1,237 delegates he needs to lock in the nomination and forcing a contested convention in July. If Cruz doesn’t win the delegates in Wisconsin, the math just doesn’t look good.

Right now, Trump has 755 delegates pledged to him. He leads in the two largest remaining contests — New York and its 95 delegates and California and its whopping 172 delegates, both awarded on a winner-take-all or winner-take-most basis. If he wins those two states, he’ll be at 962 delegates. If you throw in some of the other states Trump is leading in — Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland — and if the polls hold, the businessman will have 1,122 delegates, leaving him just 115 delegates short of the necessary 1,237. Though this doesn’t mean Trump will absolutely get the nomination, it still leaves him with a decent shot of picking up enough delegates to win outright.

Trump wants to win Wisconsin. The delegates from the state would make his chances of taking the nomination even greater. But a loss doesn’t undo his bid for the nomination. For Ted Cruz, though, a win in Wisconsin, where polls right now are virtually neck-and-neck, is vital.