Ted Cruz trounced Donald Trump in Wisconsin's presidential primary on Tuesday, a victory that could change the dynamics of the Republican race. It also raises doubts about Trump's ability to lock up a majority of delegates by the time of the GOP convention in July.
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton in the state, as the Vermont senator added to a string of victories and hoped to gain momentum as the race turns to New York on April 19.
Speaking to supporters in Milwaukee, Cruz predicted that he would have a majority of delegate before the Republican convention or after it starts in July. He noted that "three weeks ago the media said that Wisconsin was a perfect state for Donald Trump."
"Hillary, get ready, here we come," Cruz said, assuming that Clinton will ultimately be the Democratic nominee.
Just as damaging to Trump have been polls showing Trump trailing Clinton and Sanders in a general election match up, with the real estate mogul drawing high negatives among women voters. That has given fuel to Trump's GOP critics that he is not electable, and his loss will boost hopes among backers of anti-Trump efforts that he can be stopped. Trump leads in polls in upcoming primary states, including his home state of New York, but he already is facing a wave of media coverage on whether his campaign squandered momentum coming out of his wins in Super Tuesday contests last month.
In a statement, Trump's campaign said that he "withstood the onslaught of the establishment yet again," noting a flood of spending from anti-Trump SuperPAC spending. His campaign accused Cruz of coordinating with his SuperPAC, which is prohibited, and added, "Ted Cruz is worse than a puppet -- he is a Trojan horse, being used by party bosses attempting to steal the nomination from Mr. Trump."
Trump is still the front runner, but his Wisconsin loss raises the chances that there will be a contested convention, with no candidate arriving in Cleveland for the convention with a majority of committed delegates. It also means that California is likely to be a critical state for the candidates, with June 7 the final big delegate prize. The onus will be on Trump, Cruz and John Kasich to campaign in the Golden State, but also spend heavily in its expensive media markets.