Polls: Cruz leading in Wisconsin, closing in California and Pennsylvania

A suite of new polls suggest that Ted Cruz may be gaining rapidly on Donald Trump in several key upcoming primary contests.

In Wisconsin, an Emerson poll conducted March 20-22 has Cruz leading Trump by 1%, 36% to 35%.  A separate poll taken March 19-20 by the Washington Free Beacon shows Cruz with a 5% lead over Trump, 36% to 31%.  Both are significant improvements for Cruz compared to previous polling data from late February, which showed him trailing Trump by 11%.

In California, a Los Angeles Times poll from March 16-23 puts Cruz now in a statistical tie (35% vs. 36%) with Trump, up from trailing Trump by between 5% to 16% in early/mid-March.

While Trump still leads in Pennsylvania, his margin has shrunk dramatically in recent weeks.  A Franklin & Marshall poll conducted March 14-20 shows Trump with just a 3% lead over John Kasich (33% to 30%) and a 13% lead over Cruz.  Back at the start of the month, Trump held a 19% lead over Cruz and a 26% lead over Kasich.

Polling data expected out this upcoming week should begin to show the impacts of the respective foreign policy choices the candidates are espousing.

In recent interviews with the Washington Post and the New York Times, Trump has articulated what might be considered a more isolationist/libertarian foreign policy that would involve possible large cuts in defense spending, a reduced involvement in geopolitical events, and allowing – potentially even encouraging – nations such as South Korea and Japan to obtain their own nuclear weapons deterrence as a replacement for the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

In contrast, Cruz's choice of Frank Gaffney and other members of the Center for Security Policy as his key foreign policy team paints a much more traditionally conservative view that would advocate for a continued, or even increased, presence for the U.S. in world affairs coupled to higher levels of defense spending.