The primary campaign moved through Wisconsin last night and, as in many of the primary and caucus nights the preceded it, Wisconsin was do or die for a bunch of the candidates.
Those candidates were named Ted Cruz on the R side and Bernie Sanders on the D.
They both won. Easily so they did.
John Kasich was not expected to have a good night and, for the 38th time out of 39 contests did not come in first, and so lived up to his billing. In fact, I'm pretty sure his campaign thought they could come close to, or crack, 20 percent in Wisconsin, but he barely cleared 15 percent.
The earnest chatter in Our Nation's Capitol in the run up to Wisconsin was what would happen if Sanders lost or if Cruz didn't win by enough ("enough" being defined by whatever the pundit defining it, said it was).
It was not do or die for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump because their campaigns downplayed their chances of doing terribly well.
They both believe that the next stop on the trail (New York in two weeks) will be kind to them. They both claim New York as their home turf and, as of last night the RealClearPolitics average for New York showed Donald Trump with 53 percent, with Kasich at 21 and Cruz at 19. That's a 32 percentage point spread for Trump which may well shrink over the next two weeks, but it is not likely to shrink to zero.
Hillary Clinton's RCP average advantage over Bernie Sanders is only about a third of Trump's margin. She leads Sanders 53-42 percent. Last summer those numbers favored Clinton 55-15 (+40).
So, Clinton has not moved much in New York, but Sanders has gone from 15 to 42 percent of potential primary voters. For the next two weeks we will be bombarded with news from the tip of Long Island to the Canadian border about what New Yorkers are thinking and how they are planning to vote.
What the Trump people may have been hoping for last night was to either win outright, or at least to lose by something in the single digits. Then Trump could have claimed that even with all the levers of the Republican establishment arrayed against him, he very nearly won.
He couldn't say that because he didn't nearly win. With 22 percent of the votes reported Ted Cruz was declared the winner and at that point he had a lead of 53 percent to 30 percent.
At the same time, the media called Wisconsin for Bernie Sanders who was leading 53-46, so the Clinton campaign had no choice but to hunker down and play hardball in the Empire State.
Sanders has now won seven of the last eight contests and if the Clinton campaign isn't into a heavy rethink of its strategy for the six or seven weeks, they'd better start over the bagels and coffee this morning.
Wisconsin didn't just allow the Cruz and Sanders campaigns to live and fight another day; it provided them will the opportunity to sail downwind all the way to New York.
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