I grew up in Wisconsin… Milwaukee suburbs, to be exact…
It’s a nice state 7-8 months out of the year, abjectly miserable for the other 4 (aka ‘Winter’)…
It’s also markedly different politically from it’s eastern neighbors in the Midwest, and logically *the* strongest state for Cruz east of the Mississippi…
For one, Wisconsin actually has a reasonably diversified economy… You have farming, paper production, technology (in/around Madison) and industry… And that industry is reasonably diverse, but these days mostly produces heavy equipment like military trucks, mining equipment, and so on… While some manufacturing jobs have been lost as the US economy advances, the state has not been turned into a moonscape like Michigan.
Second, unlike down South, most of the blue-collar voters Trump targets *are still committed Democrats*. The WI political discourse has been fairly focused on economics & the role-of-government, so the ‘social conservative, economic liberal’ types that are drawn to Trump have stayed liberal.
Third, the political battles in-state revolve around a burning rivalry between the city of Milwaukee (rock-solid liberal) & it’s surrounding commuter suburbs (as red as Texas). Milwaukee has been run by hyper-liberal, car-hating urbanist mayors for decades (who don’t realize they are governing a city of 500k, not 5 million) who have made belittling & obstructing anything outside city limits – along with a raging love for ‘Cargo Cult’ construction projects – their entire reason-for-existence. Of course, the city believes they are entitled to have the rest of the state pay for all of this, which further alienates the surrounding communities..
The Milwaukee County board is full of the most cartoonishly incompetent, self-entitled & self-interested politicians imaginable (These are people who launched Scott Walker on the road to becoming Governor, by voting themselves 6-figure pensions, leading to a conservative-led mass-recall campaign. A few years later, their ‘successors’ then pitched a multi-year fit because the state government took away most of their pay & made the board part-time). The DA’s office is run by a buffoon known for 2 things: (A) his KGB-style raids on conservative organizations in the name of ‘campaign finance enforcement’, and (B) being on board with the liberal ‘anti-mass-incarceration’ campaign for affirmative-action in charging/sentencing decisions (such that he is horribly, grotesquely soft on crime… IF you are the ‘right’ ethnicity & not a Republican).
The collar suburbs, generally, fight back via state-level politics (WI has been governed by a Republican for most of the past 36 years)…
This has the dynamic of making state-level conservative politics VERY, VERY HEAVILY about fiscal issues (not ‘identity issues’) & the ‘educated middle-class-suburbanites vs the limo-libs/the-bottom-40%’ dynamic is quite strong.
It also has the effect of producing a VERY, VERY strong local conservative media infrastructure which, while it intermingles with the national ‘big names’ (Ever heard a guy named ‘Mark Belling’ guest host Rush? That’s where he’s from), is wholly independent from them.
These people can make or break a Republican candidate in WI.
And they HATE Donald Trump. With the fire of 10,000 suns.
When you hear Charlie Sykes (yes, the guy who’s ex wife is on the 7th Circuit, courtesy of GW Bush) say something like this:
“The GOP’s current dumpster fire was set and largely fueled by some national talk show hosts who have decided that their infatuation with Donald Trump overrode their commitment to conservative principles”
“We’ve never had a huge division between the tea party and the establishment. We’ve got think tanks and radio talk shows that have been through the fire and are really intellectually driven. And you don’t get that elsewhere. I was driving here listening to Sean Hannity, and after 15 seconds, I could feel myself getting dumber.”
You take notice.
Sykes is a (if not *the*) king-maker in WI conservative politics. His radio show (along with his friendly-competitor, Mr Belling) effectively ties together conservative activisim & messaging throughout the Milwaukee metro-area… He is not an !angry! host, and his show is generally ideologically focused… But in the Milwaukee media-market, when you end up on the wrong side of Mr Sykes, your Republican career is over.
He is also spot-on in that second quote – WI has a *unified* conservative movement with almost national-Democrat-like lockstep consistency, focused by the above-mentioned ‘Civil War’ between Milwaukee & the rest of the state and reinforced by the local-AM-radio air-support. This made WI ‘good’ Rubio territory back when Rubio was in the race (a local university poll (that is ‘word-of-God-reliable’ in past elections) taken in Febuary, showed Trump 30, Rubio 20, Cruz 19, Carson 8) but now that Rubio is out? Lockstep-march of Rubio supporters to Cruz. Count on it.
The result of all this? Not one WI legislator or congressman has endorsed Trump. Republican Congressmen from around the state have pointedly condemned him. Even Glenn Grothmann (who is the closest thing to a ‘Palin Republican’ you will find in the state) is vehemently pro-Cruz/anti-Trump: ““If your 8-year-old child behaved that way, you’d wonder if there was something wrong with them, I mean, is he going to call members of Congress losers? Or belittle them? Some people can put up with that and have thick skins. Some people can’t.”
If you are an ‘Outsider’ candidate running in WI and you can’t get even Grothman on your side? You are DONE.
And on top of all of this, there is the (rumored) Walker endorsement AND a hotly contested state-supreme-court election that has ‘spike the football’ implications (It’s a 7 member court. While the justices are elected, defeating an incumbent is almost unheard of. 4 justices are conservative. 2 are liberal, and a liberal just retired.) if the conservative candidate wins. Walker may be down in the statewide-polls, but he is still immensely popular with the Republican primary electorate.
So… WI is going to Cruz.
And the ‘Dead Catfish’ will simply make it ‘not a blowout’.
(Quotes sourced from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/03/23/stop-trump-forces-see-an-opportunity-in-scott-walkers-wisconsin/)