Ted Cruz wins Wisconsin primary, potentially halting Donald Trump's momentum

Ted Cruz Rally

Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Wisconsin was a must-win state for Cruz.

Ted Cruz on Tuesday night won the Wisconsin Republican primary, easily besting front-runner Donald Trump and possibly slowing the billionaire's otherwise relentless march to his party's presidential nomination.

Cruz's victory represents a rare success for the movement to topple a front-runner whose unprecedented rise has spooked party elders and elected officials at all levels of government.

Cruz's team is hoping that his win in Wisconsin, a reliably blue state in recent general elections, signals that he is capable of assembling a broad coalition instead of only winning states in the conservative South and the rural West.

“We’ve got the full spectrum of the Republican Party uniting behind this campaign,” Cruz said in his victory speech.

“Wisconsin has always been a barometer state,” former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who is supporting Ohio Gov. John Kasich, told the Washington Post on Sunday. “What you’re seeing is that The Donald, who has been moving ahead all across the country, has hit a logjam or a brick wall in Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin allocates its 42 delegates in a split way: The state's eight congressional districts each get three delegates, and the winner of each district gets its delegates. The remaining 18 delegates—10 selected from across the state; three representing the state Republican party's top three members; and five "bonus" delegates—go to the statewide vote winner.

Not including Wisconsin, Trump holds 737 delegates to Cruz's 481 and Kasich's 143, according to an Associated Press tally. A Republican candidate needs 1,237 delegates to secure the party's presidential nomination at the GOP convention in July.

Democrats also voted for their party's nominee on Tuesday. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders led former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by 11 points, according to CNN exit polls.

Cruz's victory mood may be short-lived. The Republican primary calendar is about to shift to more comfortable terrain for Trump. The next contests, on April 19 and April 26, are in the northeastern states of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

Update 8:43pm CT, April 5: Added additional contextual information.

Update 8:59pm CT, April 5: Added Cruz speech quote.

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