Predictions For The Wisconsin Primary Don't Look Great For The Front-Runners In Either Party

The Badger State is getting a lot of love over weekend. Candidates from both parties have hit the ground running ahead of Tuesday's primary, scheduling campaign events across Wisconsin in an attempt to woo voters in what is shaping up to be one of the most important nominating contests in the 2016 race. Tuesday's primary, deep inside of the election cycle, is the only primary on April 5. That's a rare event after a flurry of Super Tuesdays (Parts I, II, III, XX, etc.), but it isn't as much about the delegates up for grabs as it is the momentum that wins in the state could generate. So predictions for the Wisconsin primary could tell us a lot about how the rest of the race could shake out.

With bloated primary and caucus schedules since February, it's refreshing to at least be able to zero in on one contest instead of dividing attention among several states on one night. You're such a special snowflake, Wisconsin! There are 42 delegates at stake for the Republicans, and 86 pledged delegates for Democrats. Those aren't crucial wins from a numbers standpoint, but success in an all-eyes-on-me contest could be a good boost for candidates hungry for the big delegate counts in the New York primary two weeks later.

So who is expected to win? Let's dive in.

The Republicans

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Wisconsin could offer a blow to the Donald Trump train that's been steadily rolling through (or over?) the country since June. As of March 30, HuffPollster, which aggregates publicly available polls, has Texas Sen. Ted Cruz with 39 percent of the vote to Trump's 32.5 percent. The FiveThirtyEight weighted poll average has Cruz at 38 percent and Trump at 32.3 percent. Although that doesn't seem like a decisive lead for Cruz, as of April 1 FiveThirtyEight gives Cruz a 94 percent chance of winning the state.

All of this seems to have shaken America's best-known reality TV star, who has been playing defense ahead of the primary. On Friday, Trump released a one-minute radio ad that basically assures voters that everything they've heard about him is false, except for the part about making America great again. That's definitely true. He also unleashed Sarah Palin on the good people of Wisconsin on Friday to drum up support.

This seems to be a response not to Cruz, but to Hillary Clinton. Planned Parenthood and a pro-Clinton PAC released a digital ad skewering Trump's controversial views on abortion (which he, of course, has walked back on entirely). Not that the Republicans are being quiet. Cruz received a crucial endorsement when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker pledged his support on Tuesday.

Again, if Trump loses the Wisconsin primary it is by no means a death knell for his campaign, but it could be a beacon of hope for those bent on stopping what, at times, has seemed like his inevitable nomination.

Oh yes! And John Kasich. He'll be there too!

The Democrats

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The Democratic race in Wisconsin is much tighter than its GOP counterpart, mostly because there is no longer a party equivalent to Kasich (miss you, Martin O'Malley). HuffPollster shows Bernie Sanders leading Clinton 48.8 percent to 44.2 percent. FiveThirtyEight gives a similar spread as of March 31, with the Vermont senator at 47.7 percent to Clinton's 43.7 percent. But in its election forecast, the stat wizards only gave Sanders a 57 percent chance of winning Wisconsin.

If what we've come to learn about this election cycle plays out in Wisconsin, things are looking good for the Bern. According to the Washington Post, almost nine out of 10 voters in Wisconsin will be white. Even in 2008, which saw huge turnout from African-Americans, the black vote only accounted for 8 percent.

As WaPo pointed out, the election rules also favor Sanders. Wisconsin allows people to register up until the day of the primary, which means that it'd be possible for the Sanders campaign to whip up last-minute support on college campuses, where he's done incredibly well.

So, in short, Wisconsin looks good for the presumed underdogs on both sides of the campaign, so a normally sleepy campaign stop could be the site of a major turning point in the 2016 elections. Wisconsin, we'll be watching you.