Ted Cruz won Louisiana with voters who voted on March 5. The numbers are clear.
In election day voting, Cruz received 40.1 percent of the vote, beating Trump by 621 votes. Cruz took 29 out of 64 parishes that day. Trump won 100 percent of the parishes in early voting, beating Cruz by 11,490 votes (46.7 to 22.9 percent).
The final percentages were Trump 41.4, Cruz 37.8, and Rubio 11.2. Trump won by 10,869 votes and split the delegate haul 18 to 18 with Cruz (Rubio got the other 5 delegates).
By contrast, in Georgia, the early voting trend matched election day. You’d expect that to continue with the huge new voter hauls Trump has generated. But in Louisiana, things were different.
What changed? Thursday’s debate, where Marco Rubio took out Trump at the knees, and Cruz body tackled him to the ground in an under-over takedown. Not only did this visibly shake the frontrunner, it also had real effects at the polls.
In Michigan, the latest Fox 2 poll has Trump down 5 percent since their last poll taken just before Thursday’s debate.
The IVR (Interactive Voice Response) automated survey of 663 likely March 8, 2016 Michigan Republican Presidential Primary voters was conducted by Mitchell Research & Communications on Sunday afternoon and evening, March 6, 2016 and has a Margin of Error of + or – 3.8% at the 95% level of confidence.
IVR polls are notoriously unreliable. I hate them, personally, because people can lie their butts off with no way for us to know. You really don’t get a feel for how people will turn out having a computer tally the results. The latest CBS News/YouGov poll used online “opt-in” panels of likely voters. That poll was conducted before Thursday’s debate and had Trump at 39, with Cruz at 24 percent.
If I had to guess, the Louisiana effect, where Trump falls by a significant amount outside the margin of error, is responsible for the change in Michigan.
We haven’t seen the end of the Louisiana effect. Ted Cruz is building real momentum. This isn’t just a pop surge. It’s people becoming more educated about the race and the candidates as the field narrows and personal loyalties are tested.
Note how Cruz win caucuses in Maine and Kansas, along with early Iowa, because caucus voters tend to be more informed. Trump prefers primaries, where he can preen like a demagogue and generate voter tsunamis. But as the race goes on, that effect lessens, especially with the number of debates where Trump has resembled a jackass.
George Will wrote after Saturday’s Cruzmentum wave.
I think we may have passed peak Trump, as it will be known. I don’t think Mr. Romney was under any illusions that he was going to talk Trump’s supporters out of supporting him. I think he knows the axiom that you cannot reason people out of a position they have not been reasoned into.
But you can make them think twice before going to the polls. Will also wrote:
What the Republican Party needs to avoid blowing up is to get a binary choice between Mr. Trump and someone else. I think the evidence that we’re approaching that is the fact that Ted Cruz announced late last week that he’s going to open ten offices in the state of Florida. He’s probably not doing that to win Florida. He’s probably doing that to prevent Marco Rubio from winning it. If that happens, indeed, you’ve got your binary choice and you’ve got the best chance of not settling this in Cleveland where, if in the — what you outlined with Rush Limbaugh, Trump has the majority of the largest share of delegates, but not a majority, then you would have a blow-up.
We don’t have new poll data on Florida since Thursday’s debate. But I’m sure the candidates (at least Cruz and Rubio) have their internal polling data. Given that the Cruz campaign wouldn’t throw money away opening ten offices in Florida without solid data on which voters they need, in particular counties, to make a real play for the winner-take-all, I am guessing that the Louisiana effect is in play there.
The best path for the GOP, to avoid a permanent and messy war, is for Rubio to consolidate the race with Cruz. The consolidation is almost certainly inevitable, so why delay it based on almost delusional hope?