Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz may be in a dead heat nationally, but based on an exit poll in Wisconsin on Tuesday, the two candidates would force more than a third of GOP voters there to abandon the party if either one wins the GOP nomination.
The exit poll from NBC News shows that only 65 percent of Wisconsin Republicans said they’d vote for Cruz if he’s the nominee, while Trump fares slightly worse, with only 61 percent saying they’d cast a vote for the billionaire.
Eighteen percent said they’d vote for a third party candidate instead of Cruz, while 16 percent said the same if Trump is the nominee. Democrat Hillary Clinton would be a major benefactor should she win the Democratic nomination, as 10 percent of Republican voters said they’d rather vote for her than Trump.
While talk of a contested GOP convention continues to circulate, 56 percent of Wisconsin voters said the nomination should go to whichever candidate has the most delegates, regardless of whether or not they win the 1,237 delegates necessary to win it outright.
Those voters supporting Trump overwhelming have that view.
Of Trump voters surveyed in the exit poll, 83 percent said the nomination should go to the candidate with the most delegates, compared to only 42 percent supporting someone other than Trump.
Prior to votes being tallied in Wisconsin, Trump had 737 delegates, with Cruz in second at 481. With 924 delegates up for grabs, Trump would have to win 54 percent of the delegates outstanding to lock up the nomination.
On Tuesday, top Republican National Committee officials discussed details of a contested convention, according to Politico. A Cruz win in Wisconsin would make it highly probably that a contested convention would happen in Cleveland.