Wisconsin voters to see plenty of anti-Trump ads as primary looms

Posted March 30, 2016

Wisconsin voters should expect a good amount of attack ads against Republican candidate and billionaire Donald Trump during the next week as the April 5 state presidential primary election draws near, according to political observers.

A 100-day campaign has been launched by Republicans who desperately wish to stop Trump before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 18. The success or failure of the campaign hinges on the key contest in Wisconsin.

Club for Growth, a conservative organization based in Washington, D.C., that is adamantly opposed to Trump, has vowed to spend nearly $2 million on advertising against him in Wisconsin. The group has endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as the only other viable option to Trump, according to a press release.

“I think it’s basically that 95 percent of the effort is in advertising against him. That’s what they tried in Florida, that’s what they tried in several other states,” said Neil Kraus, chair of the Department of Political Science at UW-River Falls.

Trump currently holds 736 delegates, with 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. A total of 943 delegates are still up for grabs between the three remaining candidates: Trump, Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Cruz currently is in second place, holding 463 delegates, according to the news site Politico.com.

A victory in Wisconsin’s primary could add 42 more delegates to Trump’s total.

The goal of the campaign is to be sure Trump does not receive the remaining delegates that he needs in order to clinch the nomination prior to the convention. It is unlikely, but not mathematically impossible, that Cruz would receive the amount of delegates needed before the July 18 convention.

However, if Trump also does not receive the amount of votes needed before the convention, the lobbying begins for the couple of undecided delegates, and also the delegates that were originally sent to vote for candidates who have already dropped out of the race like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

The entire campaign relies on not allowing Trump to get to the 1,237 delegate threshold. According to Club for Growth, those who oppose Trump and who vote for Kasich actually help Trump. The organization’s view is that Cruz is the only candidate mathematically able to stop him from receiving the nomination before the convention.

Kraus said the campaign to stop Trump is a long-shot despite the advertising dollars being spent.

“It’s not like all of a sudden, voters at this point are going to wake up and they will support Ted Cruz instead of (Trump),” Kraus said.

If Trump receives the 1,237 delegates before the convention, Kraus said the Republican Party would have to rewrite its rules at the convention in order for Trump to be denied the nomination.

“It certainly seems as if he is going to make that number, just in the normal case of the primaries. If that happens, my understanding is, there is not a whole lot that can do to really prevent him from being the nominee,” Kraus said.

The Political Science Department will host a roundtable discussion on Trump on April 6, the day following the voting.