United States, Washington: Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz registered a double-digit victory against Donald Trump in the latest primary while recent opinion polls also indicated that the front-runner was not as invincible as he once seemed. In Tuesday’s primary in Wisconsin, both Senator Cruz and Democrat Bernie Sanders won by 13 points.
Mr Sanders’s victory, however, seems unlikely to prevent Hillary Clinton from securing the Democratic nomination. But Mr Trump’s defeat has raised the possibility of a contested convention where delegates would be asked to choose between him and Mr Cruz. Recent opinion polls also show that many Republican voters are now unhappy with the Manhattan billionaire.
On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that 35 per cent of Republican primary voters told an exit poll they would feel “scared” if Mr Trump became president, and another 20pc said they would be “concerned.” More than one in three said they would not support Mr Trump in a hypothetical general election and more than half said Mr Trump has run “the most unfair campaign.”
Nearly half said they were looking for a president with experience in politics. But Mr Trump was still popular in the lowest income brackets and among those who only had a high school education, the two groups that made him a front-runner. While noting this general disenchantment with Mr Trump, the US media noted on Wednesday that he “has only himself to blame” for recent stumbles. “As recently as three weeks ago, it was looking as though none of the laws of political physics applied to the phenomenon that is Donald Trump,” the Post commented.
On March 15, Mr Trump convincingly won a series of primaries and after that he made a series of outrageous statements on a wide range of issues, from women’s rights to nuclear proliferation. In these statements, he continued to ridicule women, urged Japan to make nuclear bombs and use them against North Korea and pledged to stop Mexicans from sending remittances. He also said he would only allow rich Muslims to visit the United States. And now “no longer does he appear to be invulnerable to gaffes and mistakes that would have destroyed a more conventional candidate before the Iowa caucuses,” the post noted.
The conservative National Review magazine, which is popular among Republicans, noted that the defeat in Wisconsin was also “a galvanising moment for the forces aligned against him (Mr Trump).” “At a moment where the frontrunner should be getting stronger, Mr. Trump is getting weaker,” wrote ABC political director Rick Klein. “Mr Trump is staggering into the final two months of voting.”
But the Trump campaign sent an email to reporters, saying that the entire Republican establishment supported Senator Cruz, but Mr Trump “withstood the onslaught.” “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,” the campaign wrote. “We have total confidence that Mr Trump will go on to win in New York, where he holds a substantial lead in all the polls, and beyond.” New York votes in 13 days.
The US media noted that the Wisconsin primary also had increased pressure on Senator Cruz who would now be required to keep Mr Trump under the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination, and to do so, he would have to position himself as the only Trump alternative. Some commentators also urged Ohio Governor John Kasich, the third Republican candidate, to quit the race and support Senator Cruz. But so far, Mr. Kasich has shown no sign of quitting the race. Bill Kristol, the editor of another conservative news magazine, Weekly Standard, wrote that he “could now see wholesale gravitation of anti-Trump voters to Mr Cruz.”