Preliminary exit poll results suggest a coalescing of the anti-Trump vote behind Ted Cruz in the Wisconsin presidential primary -- raising the specter of a ceiling for Donald Trump....Voters were angry for a while, but now they've been told angry is a bad thing, so they're anti-angry. Voters wanted an outsider for a while, but now they've been told outsiders are bad, so they're anti-outsider.
Cruz won seven in 10 voters who care most about the candidate who can win in November, up from 22 percent in previous contests. Trump won just two in 10 of these voters -- down from a third previously....
Forty-four percent said they’re interested in an experienced candidate rather than an outsider (it’s averaged 41 percent in previous contests) -- and Cruz won seven in 10 of those voters, more than twice his average, 33 percent....
Angry voters have been and remained a pro-Trump group; but there were fewer of them; Cruz did better among angry voters who didn’t go for Trump; and Cruz did especially well among those who weren’t angry, doubling his usual score in this group.
It's not as if these voters are moderate or reasonable -- they're Republicans, and conservative ones at that. (Exit poll numbers say that "three-quarters of Wisconsin GOP voters identified themselves as conservatives, a record in exit polls back to 1976.") In general, Republican voters aren't moderate or reasonable. But in past primary seasons GOP voters were eventually willing to get behind the rich, established, deeply rooted party favorite, if that favorite seemed to hate Democrats enough, because they came to believe that the clout wielded by the favorite might be enough to vanquish the evil liberals.
McCain was angry. Romney was angry. But no one this year seemed to have the right combination of establishment clout and anger. The party's favorite, Jeb Bush, was a pathetic nebbish. The party's other favorite, Marco Rubio, turned out to be a pipsqueak who repeatedly embarrassed himself. So GOP voters gravitated to Trump -- after all, he'd been fed to them for years by a party elder in the form of a TV channel, Fox News.
But now the fact that Trump can't win a general election is so obvious that even GOP voters believe it's not a lie liberals are telling because Trump is the guy who really scares us. And the party elders have, at long last, settled on one candidate, so the voters are going along.
That's the thing about voters with a taste for authoritarianism: they respect wielders of power. Until now, party leaders failed to wield the power they had. They didn't lead the voters by the nose to one candidate. Now they're doing that.
Of course, those party leaders probably want to betray their new favorite in a bait-and-switch at the convention. But the more I read about Cruz's delegate-securing efforts, the more I think he really might triumph in Cleveland. So I'm calling it a two-man race: Cruz vs. Ryan. Trump is going to win a lot of delegates in the east, and he's going to finish with the most delegates, but he's going to be about 50 delegates short of what he needs to win on the first ballot, so he's not going to be the nominee. We're told that "six in 10 Kasich and Cruz voters say that if no candidate wins a majority of delegates, the convention should decide the nominee" -- the party leaders have said that's for the best, and the anti-Trump sheeple are now dutifully agreeing. I think the hacks pretty much have their party back.