Cruz, Sanders Get Some Momentum With Wisconsin Primary Wins

Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Bernie Sanders won Tuesday's primaries in Wisconsin, dealing setbacks to frontrunners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and giving both winning candidates a burst of momentum as more delegate-rich contests loom in a matter of weeks.

Cruz and Sanders had each led in public opinion polls leading up to Election Day. Cruz has the opportunity to take all of the state's 42 delegates. However the Democratic race awards delegates proportionally, and Sanders is likely to earn just a handful more then Clinton.

Cruz's win could create a roadblock in Trump's march to attain the majority of delegates required to clinch the GOP nomination, while a big victory for Sanders could help him cut into Clinton's significant delegate lead. But the exact number of delegates awarded to each candidate in Wisconsin won't be known until more of the total vote has been counted.

But with relatively few delegates up for grabs Tuesday night compared to high-stakes races in New York, Pennsylvania and beyond later this spring, tonight's results may be more about momentum than math.

Follow all the news and analysis of Tuesday's vote in our live blog:


Exit Poll Results: How Cruz Won

Ted Cruz won a strong victory in the Republican primary in Wisconsin Tuesday, running up a comfortable margin against rival Donald Trump and dealing the GOP front-runner a setback in his attempt to lock up the GOP nomination.

Cruz's victory was fueled by strong performances among key groups in the Wisconsin GOP electorate, according to the NBC News Exit Poll. He dominated Trump among voters most concerned about winning in November, 68 percent to 19 percent. Cruz also was heavily favored by Wisconsinites preferring a candidate with experience in politics, beating Trump in this group 68 percent to 8 percent.

Cruz also performed well with other Republican groups, including those agreeing with the party's traditional position that trade with other countries creates more U.S. jobs. He beat Trump comfortably among these voters (54 percent to 28 percent). Cruz also outperformed Trump handily with the state's wealthiest voters, besting him by 52 percent to 32 percent among those with incomes of $100,000 or more.

Anna Brand

Sanders Milks Momentum In Victory Speech

Bernie Sanders to a roaring crowd in Laramie, Wyoming thanked the people of Wisconsin for his victory in a crucial contest fueling his campaign's momentum.

"Momentum is starting this campaign 11 months ago and the media determining that we were a 'fringe candidacy.' Momentum is starting a campaign 60 to 70 points behind Secretary Clinton," Sanders said to cheering supporters.

Sanders boasted his recent primary and caucus wins and his campaign's promise to turn away Super PACS and billionaires who fund those Super PACS.

"What we have done is unprecedented," Sanders said, highlighting his more than 6 million individual campaign contributions.

"Real change doesn't take place from the top on down -- it always takes place from the bottom on up," he said.

Looking ahead, Sanders said of future contests, "With your help on Saturday we're going to win here in Wyoming - and then we are headed to New York. And I know a little bit about New York because I spent the first 18 years of my life in Brooklyn."

"Please keep this a secret," Sanders added, "do not tell Sec. Clinton - she's getting a little nervous - we have an excellent chance at winning New York."

Andrew Rafferty

Trump Responds to 'Lyin' Ted' Cruz's Wisconsin Win

Though Donald Trump will not make a public appearance after his Wisconsin primary loss to Ted Cruz, he did release a statement alleging that “Lyin’ Ted” illegally coordinated with the super PAC supporting his campaign. His campaign also predicted a win in the New York primary in two weeks.

Here is the full statement:

Donald J. Trump withstood the onslaught of the establishment yet again. Lyin’ Ted Cruz had the Governor of Wisconsin, many conservative talk radio show hosts, and the entire party apparatus behind him. Not only was he propelled by the anti-Trump Super PAC’s spending countless millions of dollars on false advertising against Mr. Trump, but he was coordinating `with his own Super PAC’s (which is illegal) who totally control him. Ted Cruz is worse than a puppet--- he is a Trojan horse, being used by the party bosses attempting to steal the nomination from Mr. Trump. We have total confidence that Mr. Trump will go on to win in New York, where he holds a substantial lead in all the polls, and beyond. Mr. Trump is the only candidate who can secure the delegates needed to win the Republican nomination and ultimately defeat Hillary Clinton, or whomever is the Democratic nominee, in order to Make America Great Again.

Clinton Personally Congratulates Sanders on Twitter

Andrew Rafferty

Cruz Calls Wisconsin Victory a 'Turning Point' in Campaign

Ted Cruz called his victory in Wisconsin a “turning point” in the 2016 race and said he is now convinced he will earn enough delegates to secure the Republican presidential nomination.

“Tonight is a turning point. It is a rallying cry. It is a call from the hard-working men and women of Wisconsin to the people of America,” Cruz said during an election night rally in Wisconsin.

NBC News projected Cruz will win the Badger State primary, gaining on Donald Trump’s still comfortable delegate lead in the GOP presidential race. The Texas senator predicted he will make significant gains on Trump in upcoming contests, and touted raising $2 million alone on Tuesday.

“I am more and more convinced that our campaign is going to earn the 1237 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination,” Cruz said. “Either before Cleveland, or at the convention in Cleveland, together we will win a majority of the delegates and together we will beat Hillary Clinton in November.”

Cruz said his win, coupled with Hillary Clinton’s loss in the state’s Democratic primary, is bad news for the former secretary of state.

“Hillary, get ready. Here we come,” Cruz said.

Marianna Sotomayor

Anti-Trump Groups Tout Tonight's Result as a Success

Anti-Trump group Club for Growth PAC celebrated Ted Cruz's win as a feat of their own, declaring that Wisconsin is the "Beginning of The End for Trump" in a statement.

“Tonight marks a major pivot in the GOP race away from Donald Trump and toward Ted Cruz,” said Club for Growth Action President David McIntosh. "Not long ago, Wisconsin was Donald Trump’s to lose. He had a big lead in Wisconsin, but, with the help of a $1 million Club for Growth ad buy, an excellent campaign by Ted Cruz, and Governor Scott Walker’s strong endorsement, Trump lost."

Club for Growth was not the only super PACs that flooded Wisconsin airwaves with stop-Trump ads. Our Principles PAC claimed credit for Trump's defeat as well. Collectively both groups spent about $2 million on ads against Trump according to NBC News.

"GOP voters in Wisconsin rejected Donald Trump just like the entire Republican base will do in Cleveland this summer," Katie Packer, chairwoman of Our Principles PAC, said in a statement.

There's no sign of these groups stopping anytime soon. Both have their eyes set on defeating Trump in future primary states, starting with his home state of New York. From NBC's Peter Alexander:

Anti-Trump forces met privately in NYC today with high-dollar donors and business leaders to discuss their path forward and to ensure they had the resources necessary to prevent Trump from getting to 1237.

Priority was to keep Trump from winning Wisconsin, which they have done. Now they argue it becomes a state-by-state delegate fight guaranteed to go through California, June 7.

Broader question is how/whether they can capitalize on this success with 267 delegates up for grabs between now and the end of April (NY, CT, DE, MD, PA & RI), where Trump is favored.

Anna Brand

Lindsey Graham: Trump's 'Gibberish' Catching Up With Him

Lindsey Graham took to Twitter to congratulate Ted Cruz who was the projected winner in the Wisconsin Republican primary, while also taking aim at front-runner Donald Trump whose chances at securing the nomination are getting slimmer.

Wisconsin Exit Poll Results: A Cruz Surge Among Very Conservative Voters

Ted Cruz made significant gains among the most conservative Republican voters in today’s GOP presidential primary in Wisconsin, powering him to a win in the state, according to the NBC News Exit Poll.

Nearly two-thirds of Wisconsin GOP voters (63 percent) calling themselves “very conservative” voted for Cruz today, preferring him handily to rivals Donald Trump (at 29 percent) and John Kasich (5 percent). About three in 10 Republicans voting today in Wisconsin considered themselves very conservative.

Cruz’s performance represents a substantial improvement among this group of voters compared to just three weeks ago on March 15. In the primary held that day in the neighboring state of Illinois, Cruz’s margin against Trump among very conservative GOP voters was much slimmer: 49 percent to 36 percent. (Trump won the Illinois primary by a comfortable margin over Cruz.)

NBC News projected Cruz as the winner of the Wisconsin GOP race shortly after the state’s polls closed this evening.

Anna Brand

Bernie Sanders Wins It For the Dems

Anna Brand

Ted Cruz Beats Out Trump for Wisconsin Win

Anna Brand

And Here Are the First Calls of the Night

The GOP and Democratic primaries were both characterized by NBC News as "too early to call" when the polls closed at 9 p.m. ET. Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders are leading in their respective contests.

Watch the Wisconsin primary results roll in here.

Andrew Rafferty

Sanders Slammed by New York Daily News

Bernie Sanders was hoping to wake up Wednesday morning to a flurry of headlines announcing his important win in the Wisconsin Democratic primary.

But even if that happens, voters in America's largest city -- who are going to the polls in two weeks -- will see this blaring across the front of the New York Daily News.

Sanders, by most accounts, had a rough interview with the paper's editoiral board. Hillary Clinton's campaign blasted out the interview, saying Sanders answers show a lack of depth when it comes to implementing the bold, progressive economic reforms his touts on the campaign trail.

But the Daily News is taking him to task for saying he does not support the efforts of some families of Sandy Hook shooting victims to sue gun manufacturers.

New York holds its Democratic primary April 19.

Marianna Sotomayor

Delegates at Stake Tonight in Wisconsin

In the GOP race, candidates are eyeing Wisconsin's 42 delegates up for grabs. Twenty four delegates will be allocated based on congressional district wins. And the other 18 are winner-take-all based on who wins statewide. So if Cruz--who is expected to win--wins both categories, he could take home all 42 delegates tonight. But if Trump manages to secure several congressional districts (3 in each of Wisconsin's 8 districts), his delegate count is likely to rise as well. Here's where candidates stand now:

And on the Democratic side, there are 96 delegates at stake. As First Read pointed out this morning, for Sanders to really cut into Clinton's pledged delegate lead, he needs to win by a big margin tonight. Here's the current delegate count (including superdelegates) prior to polls closing tonight:

Watch the delegate numbers climb throughout the night with NBC's Delegate Tracker.

Candidates Make Their Final Pitch

With less than an hour until polls close in Wisconsin, candidates make their final pitch to social media savvy voters on Twitter:

Exit Poll: One-Third of GOP Voters Would Bolt if Cruz or Trump Win

Amid fierce clashes between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, one out of three Republicans voting in Wisconsin said they would abandon the party if either candidate is the ultimate nominee, according to early results from the NBC News Exit Poll.

When asked what they would do if Cruz were the GOP nominee in November, only 65 percent of Wisconsin Republicans said they'd vote for him. The remainder instead would vote for a third-party candidate (18 percent), vote for Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton (7 percent) or not vote at all (6 percent).

The numbers got slightly worse for the Republican Party when voters were asked to consider Trump as the GOP nominee. Just 61 percent said they'd vote for the brash businessman, with the rest defecting to a third party (16 percent) or to Clinton (10 percent)—or simply staying home (9 percent).

Wisconsin has long been a swing state in the nation's presidential elections, but these numbers suggest the party may have substantial difficulty staying competitive with the Democrats in the Badger State this November.

Vaughn Hillyard

Wisconsin Primary: Ted Cruz's Top 5 Cheese-Related Moments

Republican Presidential Candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) makes a campaign stop at the Mars Cheese Castle on April 4, 2016 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Darren Hauck / Getty Images

Self-confessed cheese connoisseur Ted Cruz made two dairy-related campaign stops while in Wisconsin this week. Here are five of the top cheese-related moments ahead of tonight's primary.

1. No Cheesehead-Wearing

2. 'This Is Wisconsin'

3. Cheese as a Weapon?

4. No Ropes, Just 'Fancy Cheese' on This Campaign

5. Life in the White (Cheddar) House

Read the full article here.

Wisconsin Exit Poll Results: Half of GOP Voters Want an Outsider, While Dems Value Experience

Wisconsin voters headed to the polls today amid a campaign in which anti-establishment sentiment is on the rise. But early results from the NBC News Exit Poll suggest that the state’s Republicans and Democrats feel quite differently about whether they want a true outsider as the nation’s next president.

About half—48 percent—of Wisconsin Republicans voting today say they want the next president to be “from outside the political establishment.” That’s quite similar to the share of Republicans who instead want someone with experience in politics (46 percent).

By contrast, Wisconsin Democratic voters—who are deciding among two candidates who between them have half a century of experience in Washington—are much more comfortable with establishment candidates. Nearly four out of five Democrats (78 percent) said they wanted the next president to have political experience. Only 19 percent said they wanted an outsider.

PHOTOS: Wisconsin's Turn: Voters Choose in Pivotal Primaries

A voter casts his ballot in the Wisconsin presidential primary election at a voting station in Milwaukee on April 5, 2016. JIM YOUNG / Reuters

View the full gallery here.

Sanders Seems Out of His Depth in New Interview

While we wait for results from Wisconsin, a bit of a preview to New York’s April 19 primary. The campaign of Hillary Clinton is passing around this interview the New York Daily News editorial board conducted with Bernie Sanders Monday. Sanders' supporters like his bold vision and deep convictions, but the interview underscores that the political revolutionary seems less concerned with policy details or the mechanics of implementing his ideas.

Sanders seems out of his depth when asked what gives the president authority to break up the big banks. He’s unsure of which laws Wall Street executives broke during the financial crisis, even though he regularly calls for jailing fraudsters in the financial sector. He struggles with questions on Israeli settlements in the West Bank. And he seems to muddle his position on a controversial bill he voted for that granted legal immunity to gun makers.

Sanders, who was born in Brooklyn but moved to Vermont 50 years ago, also seemed out of date on how to ride the New York City Subway. “You get a token and you get in,” Sanders said. “Wrong,” an editorial board member fired back (the subway discontinued the use of tokens in 2003 in favor of a metrocard system). “You jump over the turnstile,” Sanders joked in response.

Tony Dokoupil

Meet the Student Who Helped Trip Up Trump on Abortion

The female vote could sink Donald Trump in Wisconsin on Tuesday, and that'd be just fine to Tanya Niemi, the 19 year old University of Wisconsin- Green Bay freshman who tripped up the candidate with an abortion question last week during an MSNBC town hall.

We spotted her in a long line to vote today, where she was still so buzzed by the unexpected political fallout that she plans to change her major from computer science to political science.

"It's funny how such a person -- me, in Green Bay -- can make such a difference," she said. "I'm pretty proud of myself. I mean, honestly, I'm excited."

She was invited to the town hall by one of her professors, and she came up with the question after talking with her mother, a disability services coordinator at UWGB.

Read the full story here.