Politics & Government

Amid recent turmoil, Trump slips in a Wisconsin poll

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump leaves with Secret Service agents in tow after speaking at a campaign event at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin, Wednesday.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump leaves with Secret Service agents in tow after speaking at a campaign event at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin, Wednesday. AP

Has Donald Trump finally gone a step too far?

The Republican presidential front-runner has said his supporters would stand by him even if he shot someone in the street. But the latest polling out of Wisconsin suggests that he may have hit a plateau in the next state to vote in the presidential primary, and critics question whether the latest conflagration – this time over his campaign manager – may add to growing unease with his candidacy.

A Marquette Law School Poll on Wednesday found Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, ahead in the Badger State, with backing from 40 percent of likely voters, compared to 30 percent for Trump and 21 percent for Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

A previous Marquette poll in February had Trump at 30 percent, Cruz at 19 percent and Kasich at 8 percent, suggesting the real estate mogul picked up zero support in the state even after other presidential hopefuls, including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson dropped out of the presidential race.

Republicans holding onto the dream of a last-minute, dark horse presidential nominee like House Speaker Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney may as well wake-up now — McClatchy Political Editor Steve "Buzz" Thomma and Monty Python explain why a little-known “

It’s not just the campaign manager. This could be the start of the further erosion of support.

G. Terry Madonna, Franklin & Marshall College

The poll follows a solid month of a concerted Republican party establishment effort to puncture Trump’s lead, and G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics & Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, said the Wisconsin flatline could indicate “the beginning of a tide” against Trump.

“This is beginning to build,” Madonna said. “It’s not just the campaign manager. This could be the start of the further erosion of support.”

The poll was conducted after Trump campaign director Corey Lewandowski allegedly manhandled former Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields at an event in Florida, but before Lewandowski was charged with misdemeanor battery in connection with the March 8 encounter. He has said there was no wrong-doing, and Trump has accused Fields of “grabbing” him.

Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was charged on March 29 with simple battery after allegedly grabbing a reporter by the arm and pulling her during a campaign stop on March 8. Michelle Fields, the Breitbart reporter, was trying to as

The real estate mogul picked up zero support in the state even after other presidential hopefuls, including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson dropped out of the presidential race.

Pundits have been wrong repeatedly in predicting doom for Trump’s candidacy, and Aaron Weinschenk, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, said he remains skeptical, given Trump supporters’ commitment to their candidate.

“Is this going to be the thing that makes or breaks him?” Weinschenk said. “One thing isn’t going to do it. People who love him love him regardless of what he does. He seems to be pretty unique candidate – no political experience, not polished. It’s remarkable where he is, considering what he’s saying.”

At a Trump rally in Wisconsin on Tuesday, several women in the audience agreed with Trump that they’d seen nothing worrisome on a video of Lewandowski’s encounter with Fields. In the video, recorded by security cameras at the Trump facility in Jupiter, Fla., Lewandowski is seen reaching for Fields and pulling her back.

People who love him love him regardless of what he does.

Aaron Weinschenk, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

“She just kept walking. There was nothing wrong,” one woman said of Fields. “It’s a bunch of nothing!” another shouted.

Trump suggested that maybe Lewandowski had “touched her a little bit,” but that it was “like he was trying to keep her off me.”

Trump’s audience agreed: “He was supporting her so she wouldn’t fall,” a woman said to Trump.

A Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday found that found that 45 percent of Trump supporters agreed with the statement “the American dream is dead” when it was not attributed to any candidate. But when told the statement was by Trump, 68 percent said they agreed.

By Wednesday, Trump sought to turn his decision not to fire Lewandowski into a selling point, telling an audience in Wisconsin that he prizes loyalty.

“As your president, you need somebody who is going to be loyal to your country and yourselves,” he said.

He asked members of the audience to stand up if they disagreed with him, then proclaimed himself satisfied when not a single person in the room stood up.

“That’s risky for me to do,” he told the audience. “If everyone stood up it would be the No. 1 story on TV.”

A less-than-stellar showing could slow Trump’s march to securing the 1,237 delegates he needs in order to clinch the Republican nomination before the convention in July.

Conservatives have accused Trump – a onetime registered Democrat – of only “playing” a conservative to secure the nomination – and Trump backpedaled Wednesday after he told MSNBC that if abortion is banned there should be “some form of punishment” for women seeking to end their pregnancies.

After groups that support prosecuting abortion providers, but not women, called Trump’s remarks “completely out of touch with the pro-life movement,” his campaign issued a statement that he’d prosecute only those performing abortions.

“The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb,” he said.

Cruz weighed in as well.

“Of course we shouldn’t be talking about punishing women,” he said in a statement Wednesday, “we should affirm their dignity and the incredible gift they have to bring life into the world.”

Wisconsin on Tuesday holds the nation’s first primary in more than two weeks and the last one for another two weeks. That means whoever does well could get important momentum heading into New York, Pennsylvania and other states that vote later in April.

A less-than-stellar showing could slow Trump’s march to securing the 1,237 delegates he needs in order to clinch the Republican nomination before the convention in July.

30 Percent of likely voters who supported Donald Trump in two consecutive Marquette University polls

With bad blood brewing among the three remaining Republican presidential candidates, all three seemingly backed away from a pledge to support whoever emerges as their party’s nominee.

“No, I don’t anymore,” Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper Tuesday night when asked if he felt obligated to abide by the pledge, adding that he feels that he’s been “treated unfairly” by the Republican National Committee.

Cruz told Cooper that “I’m not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife and my family . . . I think Donald Trump would be an absolute train wreck, I think it would hand the general election to Hillary Clinton.”

Lesley Clark: 202-383-6054, @lesleyclark

William Douglas: 202-383-6026, @williamgdouglas

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