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First Read's Morning Clips: What We Learned from a GOP Focus Group

A roundup of the most important political news stories of the day

OFF TO THE RACES: What we learned from a recent GOP focus group

From one of us(!) yesterday after observing a St. Louis focus group of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents. "Donald Trump has created a gaping chasm in the Republican base over questions of his rhetoric and his behavior, but it's mainly the GOP front-runner's style -- not his substance -- that divides his most passionate supporters from his most uneasy detractors within the party. A focus group of Republicans conducted outside of St. Louis on Tuesday showed that while a significant chunk of the GOP base unhesitatingly calls Trump unpresidential, disrespectful and boorish, their anxieties over Trump's demeanor are outweighed by their fears of a Hillary Clinton presidency."

Tracking GOP delegates? There might be an app for that.

POLITICO reports on the shadow campaign to secure delegates on a second ballot in Cleveland.

California is relishing its role as a potential kingmaker in the GOP race.

CLINTON: She criticized her GOP rivals in a big speech on counterterrorism in California.

CRUZ: He says he plans on campaigning "vigorously" in Trump's home turf of New York.

The New York Times looks at his relationship with his half sister, who struggled with drug addiction. "Mr. Cruz, accustomed to achieving everything he set his mind to, also learned the limits of what he could accomplish. Despite periods of sobriety, Ms. Cruz continued in her drug abuse and arrests until 2011, when she died of an accidental overdose in a bedroom strewn with prescription pill bottles."

Scott Walker is signaling that he's likely to endorse Ted Cruz.

Real talk from the AP: "Cruz emboldened, but needs a near miracle to catch Trump"

KASICH: The New York Times: "Republicans desperate to stop Donald J. Trump from capturing the presidential nomination increased the pressure Wednesday on Gov. John Kasich of Ohio to quit the race, with Jeb Bush joining the growing number of party figures throwing their weight behind Senator Ted Cruz. Mr. Kasich refused, saying that he, not the Texas senator, was the best option to stop Mr. Trump. But his argument was undercut by his dismal showings Tuesday in Utah and Arizona, where he won no delegates — as well as by the surprise endorsement Wednesday morning by Mr. Bush of Mr. Cruz."

The Wall Street Journal opinion page: "The case for Mr. Kasich staying in the race is that he has a better chance than Mr. Cruz of stealing moderately conservative voters from Mr. Trump in the more moderate states. In the states that allocate delegates proportionally, the Ohio Governor can reduce Mr. Trump’s margins. The risk is that he and Mr. Cruz will divide the anti-Trump vote in winner-take-all states. But that only matters if Mr. Cruz could win those states on his own."

TRUMP: He retweeted an image comparing an unattractive photo of Ted Cruz's wife to his own spouse, Melania.

From the Washington Post: "Establishment Republicans and their big-money allies are rushing to build a multistate defense system to protect Senate and House candidates, fearing that the party could lose its hold on Congress if Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket in November. The anxiety about Trump’s potential spillover effect on down-ballot races was underscored Wednesday when House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin lamented the “disheartened” state of the campaign and criticized the “identity politics” on display in the increasingly toxic race for the GOP presidential nomination."

The rise of Donald Trump has Wall Street worried, the Washington Post reports.