Facing an immediate backlash, Trump quickly issued a statement reversing himself; abortion providers, not women undergoing them, would face punishment, he said. But the controversy underscored the special vulnerability polls have shown for Trump among women, who view him more unfavorably than men do.
Cruz has attempted to capitalize, notably by holding a public event this week featuring not only his wife but also his mother. And a new Marquette University poll shows he has a chance to interrupt Trump's moment in Tuesday's Wisconsin primary. In the survey Trump, who has lost numerous caucus states but won most primary contests, trailed the Texas senator by 10 percentage points.
That's potentially significant because every defeat for Trump fuels doubts about his chances of amassing the 1,237 delegates he needs for a first ballot nomination at the Republican convention in Cleveland this summer. Fresh controversy over women voters deepens the anxiety among mainstream Republicans about Trump's effect on the party's ticket this fall — and strengthens their determination to try to block his nomination.