Is Ted Cruz the favorite now?

I think you can make a pretty good case for this.  It may be at least even odds now that nobody ends up with a majority of the delegates entering the convention.  Nate Cohn:

But the real surprise Tuesday night was not the weakness of Mr. Trump but the strength of Ted Cruz. It was the first contest after the departure of Marco Rubio that was truly competitive, and it looks as if Mr. Cruz benefited a lot. In fact, with a final result of 48 percent, he won a larger share of the vote than in any primary this year.

There’s no guarantee that this pattern holds for the rest of the race. But Mr. Trump will not come very close to amassing a majority of Republican delegates if it does…

It appears that many moderate voters, who have long been the biggest obstacle to Mr. Cruz, finally broke his way. According to exit polls, Mr. Cruz won 29 percent of them — far higher than the 12 percent he won in Michigan and 15 percent in Illinois. Mr. Kasich’s share of the vote among both self-described “moderate” and “somewhat conservative” voters dropped.

Of course, maybe Wisconsin is just Wisconsin.  But if it in any way is part of a larger pattern, Trump doesn’t get 1237.  And if Trump doesn’t hit 1237 on the first ballot, I’m increasingly thinking the nomination is Cruz’s.  For one, he’s been way more zealous and smart in ensuring that once delegates are no longer bound, they will vote for him.

Cruz’s success in the complex delegate game is helping him counter Trump’s headline-grabbing wins in big states and would give the Texas senator a tactical advantage should the party’s presidential nomination come down to a rare contested convention.

“Cruz is ahead of everyone on this,” Republican election lawyer Ben Ginsberg said, describing Cruz’s aggressive but quiet delegate strategy as “equally important” to the actual votes.

And think about the type of people who are so hardcore Republican that they end up being delegates.  Can you seriously imagine these folks choosing a relative moderate like Kasich (or Mitt Romney).  Sure, there’s hope for Paul Ryan as the great savior, but I suspect Ted Cruz is well more popular among delegates than Ryan.

So, hard not to see Cruz as the odds-on favorite at a contested convention.  And, at this point, a contested convention may even seem reasonably likely.  We shall see.

UPDATE: Should have also included this link to Nate Silver that definitely influenced my thinking.

On Wisconsin

A little late, but a couple good things I read today:

I loved this characterization from Nicholas Confessore:

Gravity exists

It can sometimes seem as though Donald J. Trump defies the laws of political physics — that his provocations, prevarications and flip-flops simply slough off his branded baseball cap. But Wisconsin, a state with highly engaged voters and a powerful talk-radio establishment that turned sharply against the Republican, showed that some actions do generate reactions. After Mr. Trump’s clumsy expressions of solidarity with opponents of abortion — suggesting at one point that there should be “some form of punishment” for women who have abortions — he won just a third of self-identified evangelical Christians.

Right.  As I’ve mentioned before, I think given how much Trump has surprised us by doing things we didn’t think presidential candidates could do and still thrive, it is nice to be reminded that he’s not a teflon unicorn, free from all normal understandings of politics.

Also, I really liked Nate Silver’s hedge on Wisconsin.  What does it mean?  We really can’t say yet:

That does it for us tonight, folks — I’m going to sleep on tonight’s Republican results in Wisconsin before having anything too grandiose to say about them. It’s a weird case where there might be a danger either of underreacting (“it’s just one state!”) or of overreacting (“this changes everything!”). Neither of those reactions quite feels appropriate until we see how the candidates, polls, delegates and media behave in the coming days.

The Chickens coming home to roost in NC

Great Charlotte Observer editorial on Paypal’s decision to not bring new jobs to NC and the utter, shameless, cluelessness of our state Republican “leadership.”

It’s all a game for Sen. Phil Berger and other Republican leaders in Raleigh, even when it costs 400 people a paycheck.

When PayPal CEO Dan Schulman announced Tuesday that his company was canceling plans to open a global operations center in Charlotte because of House Bill 2, he appeared to change the debate from red-vs.-blue to green, as in millions of lost dollars for North Carolina. Fallout from legislators’ discriminatory bill had suddenly morphed from threats to the very real loss of well-paying jobs.

Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore, Rep. Dan Bishop and others, though, saw it as another chance to fire up the PR machine. They didn’t utter a word of regret about losing a major expansion by one of the nation’s most innovative companies. Instead, Republicans insulted that company and, in an unsettlingly Orwellian move, blamed the victim.

Just weeks ago, Gov. Pat McCrory was at the Charlotte Chamber touting the PayPal news and boasting that it was the kind of company North Carolina needed to recruit. By Tuesday, the N.C. Republican Party was slamming PayPal executives as hypocrites guilty of “extortion” who do business in countries with human rights abuses.

We can only imagine how recruiters in other states are drooling over North Carolina’s new economic development policy of attacking prospective employers.

Ignoring PayPal’s statement that it was declining to do business in Charlotte because of HB 2, the Raleigh gang turned it around. With straight faces, they blamed Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts for the economic hit and warned that she needs to be stopped before she costs Charlotte more jobs…

The bill also provoked Lionsgate into pulling production for “Crushed,” a show that was supposed to be filmed in Charlotte. Red Ventures CEO Ric Elias said Tuesday his company will “seriously reconsider” its plan to add 500 jobs in Charlotte. If HB 2 is not repealed, Elias said, “our long-term plans for aggressive expansion in North Carolina will change.”

Will legislators respond by maligning Red Ventures? Will they bad-mouth the NBA if the league moves the 2017 All Star game? And how many companies have crossed North Carolina off the list without anyone knowing?

So economic developers pull their hair out while McCrory equivocates and the Biffs in Raleigh high-five.

We are used to the never-ending tug-of-war of politics, the dueling charges and counter charges designed to score an electoral edge. Now, though, there’s a price beyond having to endure the back-and-forth nails on the chalkboard. Republicans’ effort to ratchet up voter turnout among their base is now costing the state jobs, capital investment and paychecks. All in the name of delaying equality.

Here’s hoping enough Republican voters can see through their partisan blinders (not that Democrats don’t have them, but damn are the Republicans in power screwing our state) that we can have some real change despite our absurdly gerrymandered state districts.

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