US election: Ted Cruz secures huge win over Donald Trump in Wisconsin vote

Bernie Sanders was also a big winner on Tuesday

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Wednesday 06 April 2016 02:09 BST
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Mr Cruz delivered a victory speech on Tuesday night in Wisconsin
Mr Cruz delivered a victory speech on Tuesday night in Wisconsin (AP)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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The voters of Wisconsin like to think of themselves on being particularly informed and engaged about America’s politics.

On Tuesday, they handed a huge win to Ted Cruz - reenergising his campaign and raising fresh questions about the chances of Donald Trump securing the Republican nomination. They also delivered a handsome victory to Bernie Sanders.

“Tonight is a turning point. It is a rallying cry,” Mr Cruz said in a victory speech delivered in the city of Milwaukee. “We have a choice. A real choice.”

Mr Cruz vowed that he would beat Mr Trump - and then the Democrats
Mr Cruz vowed that he would beat Mr Trump - and then the Democrats (AP)

He added: “Hillary get ready, here we come….God bless you.”

It was always likely that Mr Cruz was going to win Wisconsin, which has a large number of churchgoers and a population more highly educated than many states. Polls had suggested he would beat Mr Trump by between seven to ten points.

Yet the scale of his win was such that at least three major US broadcasters were in a position to call the victory for the Texas senator within moments of polls closing at 9pm.

With a little under half of the precincts having returned their results, Mr Cruz was on 52 per cent, Mr Trump on 31 and Ohio Governor John Kasich on around 15.

The victory will have been particularly sweet for Mr Cruz, who entered the Wisconsin primary trailing more than 200 delegates behind Mr Trump. Mr Cruz was predicted to win at least 30 of the state’s 42 Republican delegates, which were distributed on a proportional basis.

Over the last two week, Mr Cruz has fought off repeated attacks from Mr Trump who has consistently accused him of being a liar. He was also required to dismiss a supermarket tabloid claim - which he blamed on Mr Trump - of having had five illicit affairs. Mr Trump also retweeted an unflattering photograph of Mr Cruz’s wife, Heidi.

For Mr Trump, meanwhile, Wisconsin on Tuesday marked another bad day for the New York tycoon after two very bad weeks of stumbles and missteps.

The billionaire has stood by his campaign manager, even after he was charged with physically assaulting a female reporter. He then told an interviewer that if abortion were to become illegal in the US, any woman having such a procedure would be “punished”.

He struggled to correct his position and many commentators said they believed the self-inflicted blows may have lethally injured him.

Mr Trump did not appear on Tuesday night. His campaign issued a statement that said: "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."

What seems ever more likely is the Republicans will gather for their convention this summer in Cleveland, without any candidate having secured sufficient delegates to win the nomination. The last time this happened was in 1976.

Mr Sanders has won six of the last seven contests
Mr Sanders has won six of the last seven contests (EPA)

For Mr Tump to win, he would need to secure 60 per cent of the remaining Republican delegates, while Mr Cruz would need to win 80 per cent. It is mathematically impossible for Mr Kasich to win enough delegates prior to the convention in Cleveland.

That means that a contested, or brokered, convention is likely to play out. A large number of powerful Republicans are determined to use the convention to nominate a non-Trump candidate.

Mr Sanders was also smiling on Tuesday night, which represented his sixth win out of the last seven contests.

He had gone into the contest with polls suggesting he would beat Ms Clinton around two or three points. As it was, with around half of precincts having reported, the Vermont senator was leading the former secretary of state by 54-45.

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The state’s 86 Democratic delegates are awarded on a proportional basis, and the former Burlington needs as many as he can get. Ms Clinton went into the primary leading him 1,271 to 1,024 in pledged delegates. Her lead is even greater when so-called super-delegates are included.

Mr Sanders spoke to his supporters on Laramie, Wyoming, which is holding its primary contest on Saturday.

“I don’t know if anyone knows as there aren’t any TVs, but we’ve just been projected by all the networks as the winner in Wisconsin,” he said, to huge roars.

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