Winning in Wisconsin will be an important step for Sen. Cruz towards winning the nomination. But let’s face it, the next couple weeks after that won’t be very good for him. It’s all east coast states, where polling is showing him running a distant second to Trump.
So here’s what I think Sen. Cruz should do to maximize his momentum and be as efficient as possible with his time and money in the remaining states:
1)Send Heidi and Carly Fiorina to California immediately for fundraising and campaigning. I believe this entire race could come down to what happens in California. I think Cruz has a chance to win it, even with Kasich still in the race. But it’s gonna be close.
This is where his wife and Carly can be very helpful. They can convince the moderate republicans in that state who are inclined to vote for Kasich or to not vote at all to vote for Cruz in order to stop Trump. These Republicans, particularly women, are often suburbanites who are turned off by Cruz’s positions on some issues and even more so by his personality and preacher-style of speaking.
But they’ll be able to relate to Heidi and Carly, two strong, successful businesswomen who have softer, more moderate tones and ways of speaking, and can be very persuasive, as we saw in Wisconsin.
If Cruz can pick up most of Kasich’s support in California, he’ll most certainly win the state and pick up a ton of delegates, which would guarantee that Trump doesn’t reach 1237.
2)Run ads in PA, but spend very little money and time there. Why? Two reasons:
a)Kasich and Trump are battling it out for the blue collar workers there, and that leaves little room for Cruz to win votes. Pennsylvania is very similar to Ohio demographically, and I expect the outcome to be similar. Kasich won’t do nearly as well because it’s not his home state, but he’ll be competitive and probably finish ahead of Cruz. Either way Trump will win the state.
b)This is the key. Most of PA’s delegates are unbound, which means that they can vote for any candidate on the first ballot at the convention, regardless of who wins the state. That effectively means that the results of the vote in PA are largely irrelevant, and it will become a behind the scenes battle to win over every single delegate before the convention.
If the trends that we’ve seen in other states continue, it’s very likely that a majority of these delegates, who are often party insiders who don’t like Trump, will vote for Cruz at the convention. So it’s pointless for him to spend much time campaigning in the state.
3)Start campaigning in New York immediately after Wisconsin. Cruz isn’t going to win NY or get anywhere close to Trump there, but he doesn’t have to. It has a hybrid winner take all system, which means Cruz can pick up delegates by winning congressional districts even if Trump wins the state. However, this no longer applies if the winner gets over 50% of the vote, because that’s the threshold where it becomes a winner take all state at both the district and state level, meaning the winner of the state gets all the delegates there.
So Cruz’s goal shouldn’t be to win the state, but simply to prevent Trump from reaching 50%. If he can do that it would be a huge blow to Trump because it would mean they would both get delegates, and it would slow his momentum since the polls leading up to NY show Trump with well over 50%, and have for some time.
4)After the east coast states vote, campaign hard in Indiana. It isn’t getting much attention, but Indiana has 57 delegates, 15 more than Wisconsin. That’s a big deal. The demographics might favor Trump, but I think Cruz has a chance to win, and if he does that would be huge because it’s a winner take all state. Maybe most people were assuming Trump would win Indiana and have already given it to him in their calculations, so if Cruz could pull off an upset there, that’d be a major, possibly even fatal blow to Trump’s chances of winning at the convention.
If Sen. Cruz follows these steps I believe he’ll be in a strong position to defeat Trump at the convention on the second ballot.