- Public Policy Polling survey: CRUZ 38 / TRUMP 37
- Gap between the two GOP rivals is within the poll’s margin of error
- Wisconsin will send 42 delegates to the Republican National Convention
- Marquette Law School poll earlier this week had Cruz leading Trump by a 40-30 margin
- But the new PPP poll has an edge with a larger sample size, 768 to 471
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are headed to a photo finish in Wisconsin next Tuesday according to the latest poll numbers, which show the Texas senator ahead of the New York billionaire by just a single percentage point.
Public Policy Polling, a left-leaning firm, surveyed likely voters in the Badger State and found Cruz leading the Republican primary contest with 38 per cent, compared with Trump’s 37.
The numbers were released Thursday, just two days after a poll sponsored by the Marquette University Law School projected Cruz with a solid 40-30 lead.
The dramatically different results could be explained by sample sizes: Marquette’s pollsters interviewed 471 likely Republican primary voters, while Public Policy Polling surveyed 768.
They could also reflect quickly shifting political winds in Wisconsin, seasoned with a series of Trump rallies that tend to create unpredictable news cycles.
Buried in the numbers are contradictory trends – one that might help Cruz and another that could benefit Trump.
The reality TV star and real estate tycoon is likely to benefit from a sizable number of Democratic ‘crossover’ voters – middle-class whites, many in labor unions – who will support Trump more on personality than on policy.
That entire group is invisible in a poll that excludes Democrats, as both the Marquette and PPP surveys did.
Wisconsin’s primary is an ‘open’ one, meaning the Republican contest is not limited to only registered Republican voters. Trump has performed markedly better in open-primary states than in those with closed elections.
On the other side of the coin, Ohio Gov. John Kasich registered 17 per cent in the PPP poll of Wisconsin Republicans, but just 63 per cent of that group said they were definitely going to vote for him on Tuesday.
In the group that wasn’t so sure, 51 per cent said they could switch to Cruz. Just 19 said the same of Trump.
The result is a 49-41 drubbing – with the Texas tea party titan emerging on top – if Kasich weren’t in the race.
But the Ohioan shows no sign of backing away from the White House contest, and his presence is giving Trump a wider lane to swim in.