Who will be winners in Wisconsin? Our pundits weigh in

The Hill asked pundits from both parties to predict the winners in today's Wisconsin primary. Here's what they had to say.


Bradley A. Blakeman

Winner: Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGroup aiming to draft Beto O’Rourke unveils first 2020 video Howard Dean looking for a 'younger, newer' Democratic nominee in 2020 Congress can stop the war on science MORE (Texas)

Cruz will cruise to victory. Wisconsin is to Cruz what Florida was to Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRussian oligarch, allies retain key ownership in company after sanctions lifted: report Senate GOP eyes 'nuclear option' for Trump nominees next week Washington fears new threat from 'deepfake' videos MORE (Fla.): a must-win. Cruz's victory in Wisconsin makes it more likely than not that the GOP is headed to a contested convention.


As long as Ohio Gov. John Kasich remains in the race with no possible way to achieve the nomination but for a contested convention, he remains a spoiler. He is surely taking votes away from both real estate mogul Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE and Cruz.

And, while Trump is likely to do well in the New York primary, Pennsylvania is another story. By April 26, I believe we will know for sure whether or not the math will work for Trump to secure the nomination prior to the GOP convention. Remember, the rules for the 2016 GOP convention have yet to be written and for sure Trump and Cruz will battle it out — with Kasich nipping at their heels — as to what the rules will be, and how they can gain the upper hand in making them.

Stay tuned!

Blakeman is a professor of public policy, politics and international affairs at Georgetown University and was a senior adviser to former President George W. Bush.

Former Rep. John LeBoutillier (R-N.Y.)

Winner: Cruz

Cruz is going to win — and win big — in the Wisconsin GOP primary. He will win the lion's share of the 42 delegates; he might even get up to 36 delegates.

Trump and Kasich will finish second and third, respectively.

The effect on Trump's march to 1,237 delegates is that it will be much more difficult for him to reach the majority needed to be nominated. If he does not reach 1,237 through the primaries and caucuses, then he will not make it at the GOP convention in Cleveland.

After Trump's recent self-induced implosions, Republicans are not going to let Trump take their party over the cliff in November. So Wisconsin is the turning point in the GOP race.

P.S. This does not mean Cruz will be the Republican nominee; he is just being used to stop Trump. Once that is accomplished, they will then "Stop Cruz," too.

LeBoutillier is a former Republican congressman from New York and is the co-host of "Political Insiders" on Fox News Channel.

Matt Mackowiak

Winner: Cruz

A number of factors have combined to give Cruz huge momentum going into Wisconsin:

  • He won Gov. Scott Walker's (R) endorsement at the right time, and deployed the popular governor smartly, in a TV ad, on the trail and in the media.
  • Influential conservative talk radio has been hammering Trump for months.
  • Trump strangely chose 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin to be his top surrogate, in a state where she is not popular. She bombed at a huge Milwaukee-area GOP dinner over the weekend.
  • Trump's disastrous last seven days will result in a rush of women GOP voters from Trump to Cruz (and Kasich).

I expect a Cruz win by a healthy margin of 8 to 10 points Tuesday night. The statewide numbers will get the media attention, but the congressional districts are what matter for delegate apportionment.

Cruz will win Milwaukee and the suburbs, Trump will over-perform in the rural areas, and Green Bay will be the battleground. The local congressman, Reid RibbleReid James RibbleSetting the record straight about No Labels With Trump, conservatives hope for ally in 'War on Christmas' GOP rushes to embrace Trump MORE (R), endorsed Cruz late last week.

I suspect Cruz will run the table in most of the districts, and ultimately I suspect he takes 36 delegates from Wisconsin, with Trump and Kasich each taking three.

Mackowiak is a syndicated columnist; an Austin, Texas-based Republican consultant; and a former Capitol Hill and George W. Bush administration aide.



Brent Budowsky

Winner: Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) Sanders2020 Dems seize on MLK Day for campaign messaging Sanders knocks Trump in MLK Day speech Grassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices MORE (I-Vt.)

I expect Sanders to defeat former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonElise Stefanik seeks to tackle GOP’s women ‘crisis’ ahead of 2020 Russian pop star linked to Trump Tower meeting cancels US tour Graham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies MORE in Wisconsin, but with a fairly close margin (52 percent to 48 percent). Young people will vote heavily for Sanders, union workers for Sanders by a mid-size margin and progressive liberals for Sanders fairly strongly.

While Sanders will do well with women under 30, Clinton will win women by a fairly significant majority and win the black vote by a substantial majority. Sanders's relatively close win will give a modest, but not dramatic, boost going into the New York primary.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Chief Deputy Majority Whip Bill Alexander (D-Ark.). He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics.

Former Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.)

Winner: Sanders

Wisconsin will be tough for Clinton for any number of reasons. Sanders is running neck-and-neck in the polls in a tumultuous climate on both sides of the aisle. Wisconsin has been a progressive state and remains so in the urban areas, which include colleges and universities, while suburban and rural areas are far more conservative. Sanders will do well with students and young voters, and I question how many traditional Democrats will support the former secretary of State. The final outcome in Wisconsin will be a small, highly concentrated victory for Sanders, but it won't alter the final outcome of the race for the Democratic nomination.

Owens represented New York's North Country from 2009 until retiring from the House in 2015. He is a partner in the Plattsburgh, N.Y., firm of Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murnane, Kelleher & Trombley, PLLC.

This piece was updated on April 5, 2016, at 10:50 a.m. to include an additional pundit's prediction.