Republican front-runner Donald Trump says he can't wait to take on Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in the fall, but here are three reasons why he could lose a general election. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

We can dispatch with the new Democratic poll results from Marquette University quickly, so let's.

Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton by about four points, up three points from February. Since the Democrats allocate their delegates proportionally, Wisconsin is one of a whole lot of states where Sanders needs a giant win to eat into Hillary Clinton's lead, but apparently won't get it.

In January, Clinton would have gotten two more delegates than Sanders. If this poll holds, Sanders will now get four more than Clinton -- slicing his pledged delegate deficit from 263 all the way down to 259. But Sanders's team is running a "win states" strategy, so chalk this up as a likely success.


Donald Trump (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Now, to the Republicans. On the Republican side, there's more of a race, pitting Donald Trump against the 1,237 delegates he needs in order to clinch the nomination before the convention. Ted Cruz and John Kasich exist primarily in the way that a Flying J or a pothole exist on a freeway: As an obstacle keeping you from your destination.

To that end, Cruz looks positioned to be successful. Wisconsin allocates 18 of its delegates to whoever wins the state and another three to the winner of each congressional district. This is a "winner-take-most" scenario, since the statewide winner will obviously take at least some of the eight congressional districts -- and therefore 30 to all 42 of the state's delegates. Meaning that Trump, who still needs to win more than half of the delegates to be allocated in future contests, will almost certainly get fewer than half of the delegates in Wisconsin -- making his uphill climb slightly steeper. As obsessive delegate-watcher Taniel puts it, such a loss would "remove any margin of error he still has through June." Wisconsin is his margin of error.

The new Wisconsin polling is a very good sign for the NeverTrumpites. The 20 percent of the vote that Marco Rubio had in the state in February has essentially been handed over to Ted Cruz. That's not 1-to-1, of course, but Cruz went from 19 points in February to 40 points now. Kasich picked up some of the vote from the other drop-outs, too -- while Trump didn't budge. Thirty percent in February, 30 in March.


This is a state, in other words, where the consolidate-against-Trump theory appears to perhaps be working. Who knew! Trump's ceiling varies by state, but here it looks like it might be around 30 percent. Pitting only two candidates against him means that Trump won't win. (After all, he was winning with the same percentage in February -- against more candidates.)

Over the long-term, Wisconsin also suggests that having Trump at the top of the Republican ticket may not be the best for the party to win the White House. In head-to-head match-ups, Clinton beats Trump by 10 points and Sanders beats him by 19.

Why? In part because people really dislike Trump. More than 70 percent of Wisconsinites view him unfavorably. (In February, Republicans viewed him about as favorably as they did unfavorably, a remarkably low number for a member of their own party.) What's more, more than half of poll respondents -- 56 percent -- said they'd feel "very uncomfortable" if Trump were the president.


Another 14 percent said they'd feel "somewhat" uncomfortable. Which suggests that if the general election were held tomorrow, Trump might have some difficulty.

But if the next two months play out the way Wisconsin is shaping up, Trump may not need to worry about it. As we noted Wednesday morning, most of the times that a candidate has gone into a convention with a plurality of delegates but not a majority, he was not named his party's nominee. If Trump doesn't hit 1,237 delegates, he'll have to put up a remarkable fight against the Republican establishment on the convention floor, a bit like fighting a monster from inside the monster's den.

For Trump, a just-win-some-states strategy would actually work. C'est la vie.