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How The States Voted On Semi-Super Saturday
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Leave a comment, and send us questions @FiveThirtyEight.

11:33 PM
Ted Cruz Won Semi-Super Saturday

That’s a wrap for us, folks. We’ll have more analysis of tonight’s results in the days ahead, but here’s how I’d score the evening relative to expectations on the GOP side. I mean that in a more precise way than when the term “expectations” is usually invoked. Specifically, I mean that if you’d drawn up a list of plausible outcomes this morning and ranked them from best (10) to worst (0) for each candidate, how would candidates fare by that measure?

Ted Cruz — 9 out of 10. Huge win in Kansas, unexpected win in Maine, and unexpectedly close to Trump in Louisiana, with results suggesting he might even have won if not for early votes. Cruz’s loss in Kentucky was also narrow — he came much closer to Trump, for example, than he did in Tennessee on Super Tuesday. Not quite a “best case scenario” but not more than one step removed from it.

Donald Trump — 2 out of 10. You could equivocate by saying Trump performs poorly in caucuses, and there aren’t all that many of them left, but the huge split in the election day versus early vote in Louisiana suggests that he’s encountering serious problems, perhaps the most serious since voting started on Feb. 1. It also appears as though Cruz will pick up more delegates than Trump did from the night.

Marco Rubio — 1 out of 10. Just 17 percent of the vote in Kansas, 17 percent in Kentucky, 11 percent in Louisiana (with a huge drop-off from the early vote to election day votes) and 9 percent in Maine. Not. Good. He’ll presumably hang on until Florida on March 15 and a win there would still be a big deal, but he needs to gain votes to do that and right now he’s losing them instead.

John Kasich — 4 out of 10. We thought he’d do a little better in Maine. His results in Kentucky in counties that border Ohio were solid but not stellar. He’s basically running as a one-state spoiler candidate at this point, although the fallout from some of the other developments (like Rubio’s bad evening) could create opportunities for him in the long run. Still, all of those opportunities would seem to involve a contested convention and it’s not clear why he’d emerge as the choice from such an event.

11:32 PM
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11:29 PM
Sanders Won More States, But He Lost The Day

We’re about to shutter this live blog, so let’s take a look at how Semi-Super Saturday played out on the Democratic side.

Sanders won Kansas and Nebraska. That’s the good news for him. The bad news is he’s even further from the nomination than he was before the day started: He lost Louisiana, and, in doing so, fell even further behind in the delegate hunt.

Let’s take a look at the math. Sanders won 23 delegates in Kansas to Clinton’s 10. He won —  preliminarily — 14 delegates in Nebraska to Clinton’s 11. That’s a margin of 16 delegates.

In losing Louisiana, however, Sanders only claimed 12 delegates to Clinton’s 39.

Combine the three states, and Clinton gained 11 delegates on Sanders.

Now you might be saying, but didn’t we expect Sanders to do poorly in Louisiana? Yes, that’s true. But according to our delegate targets, which takes that into account, Sanders is now 3 delegates further behind the pace he needs to win a majority of pledged delegate than he was at the beginning of the day. Considering he was already running 82 delegates behind his delegate goals, he needs to be exceeding his delegate targets.

Overall, it was actually a bad day for Sanders by the math, even with his two wins.

11:13 PM
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10:55 PM
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10:53 PM

Our colleagues at ABC News, which did NOT call the Louisiana Republican primary earlier in the night, now projects Trump will win the state.

10:51 PM
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10:49 PM

Where are there still returns outstanding in Louisiana?

  • About half of Caddo Parish, which has been good for Cruz so far, has yet to report.
  • Lots of votes left in East Baton Rouge Parish, which has also been good for Cruz.
  • About 70 precincts in Jefferson Parish have yet to report; Jefferson has been good for Trump.
  • Lots of precincts in Orleans Parish haven’t reported, but there aren’t a lot of Republican votes there. Trump is slightly ahead of Cruz in the ones reported so far, but Rubio and Kasich also do comparatively well.
  • Significant amounts of St. Tammany Parish, which has been good for Trump, have yet to report.

Overall, our guess is that Trump will just barely hold on, but these were not the sorts of margins some networks were expecting when they called Louisiana for Trump just after 9 p.m..

10:41 PM

By the way, kudos to the state of Louisiana for reporting its results very quickly and efficiently tonight. The states you might be inclined to stereotype as being being slow to report returns are often among the best instead.

10:40 PM

You keep hearing from people like me that Trump has a floor of about one-third of the vote. For instance, he averaged 35 percent in the Super Tuesday contests. Today, it’s the same story. His average vote percentage in the four states that voted today is 33 percent. The big difference from other days is that Cruz was able to coalesce a lot of the anti-Trump bloc, which led to at least two victories.

10:36 PM

As more results come in from Kentucky, an update on Ohio border counties: Cruz has 33 percent of the vote from counties that border Ohio, to 30 percent for Trump and 23 percent for Kasich (and 14 percent for Marco Rubio). Ohio looks as though it could be a three-way race on March 15.

10:28 PM

To take one example of the huge split between election day returns and early votes in Louisiana: in Acadia Parish, Trump got 47 percent of the early vote, with 26 percent for Cruz and 19 percent for Rubio. In election day returns, however, it’s Trump 44, Cruz 41, Rubio 9. Trump often performs worse with late-deciding voters, but we haven’t seen anything this dramatic yet.

10:25 PM

Trump just won Jefferson County, Kentucky, 30 percent to Cruz’s 29 percent. That’s bad news for Cruz’s Kentucky hopes. While Cruz is down just 4 percentage points, Trump’s margin in the overall vote remains fairly steady at around 5,000 votes. There’d have to be a late surge from somewhere for Cruz to win; otherwise, it’ll be close but no cigar.

10:24 PM

In less exciting news from Louisiana, Clinton currently leaders Sanders by 47 percentage points. That’s consistent with her 45-point lead in our pre-election polling average.

10:22 PM
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10:19 PM

The margin separating Trump and Cruz in Kentucky is also shrinking. Trump is up just 4.6 percentage points, in part because Cruz won Fayette County (Lexington) 29 percent to 25 percent. Unfortunately for Cruz, both Kasich and Rubio got over 20 percent of the vote there, which may have held down Cruz’s margin. We’re still waiting on Jefferson County (Louisville).

10:15 PM

Trump’s lead in Louisiana keeps narrowing every time I refresh the secretary of state’s webpage. It’s now down to 5.9 percentage points. Maybe Trump will hold on, but the networks should be rescinding their calls since there’s no way they’d have called it for Trump based on the information we have available now. There’s the risk of serious embarrassment for news outlets who are not picking up on this.

9:59 PM

The very earliest returns in Louisiana, which were substantially composed of votes cast before election day, showed Trump at 48 percent, Cruz at 23 percent, and Rubio at 20 percent. Now? It’s Trump 43, Cruz 34 and Rubio 14, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State. The differences suggest a major gap between early votes and election-day returns, with Cruz surging in the past couple of days at the expense of both Trump and Rubio.

9:58 PM

If you’re looking for good news as a Sanders’s fan, look no further than Kansas. Sanders won 23 delegates to Clinton’s 10 in the state. Not only did Sanders win, but he outperformed his FiveThirtyEight target of 19 delegates. Of course, he’ll need a lot more wins like that to have a realistic shot at the nomination.

9:57 PM
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9:54 PM

Nate, in answer to your earlier question about why Sanders won Kansas, one explanation is likely to be a very heavy turnout in Douglas County, home of the University of Kansas, and traditionally one of the most liberal parts of the state. (In the 2008 general election, 64 percent of the county voted for Obama, while virtually every other part of the state supported McCain.) The Lawrence Journal-World reported a Democratic caucus turnout so heavy that voters had to be counted on a middle-school football field. Sanders won 81 percent of the caucus vote in Lawrence, and much of his support undoubtedly came from students and faculty at KU.

9:50 PM
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9:48 PM

There does seem to be some movement away from Rubio in the past few days in Louisiana. While Rubio was getting near 20 percent of voters who cast a ballot early, he is now down to just 15.8 percent including election day voters.

9:43 PM

As Rubio looks to have had another very bad night, it’s worth thinking about something we’ve brought up before: Is it possible that Rubio is actually too conservative for his own good? Obviously, the Republican Party is a conservative party. (Although Trump’s success suggests that the conservatism of GOP voters is complicated.) But Rubio is not quite in the moderate conservative “lane” that often proves to be fruitful in the GOP nomination process. Instead, Rubio is quite conservative indeed — at least based on his policy positions if not necessarily his temperament.

So Rubio has to compete with Cruz for very conservative voters while moderate conservatives have had other options to consider. Kasich, in particular, is a little more conservative than he lets on but has run explicitly toward the center. In some ways, a race with Trump, Cruz and Kasich would create clearer differentiation between the candidates than one between Trump, Cruz and Rubio, which has left Rubio as a lot of voters’ second choice.

9:29 PM

Just a pause-for-breath post as results and calls come in left and right.

Republicans:

  • Kansas — Called for Cruz, who won by 25 percentage points.
  • Maine — Called for Cruz, who won by 13 points.
  • Louisiana — Called for Trump by AP; he’s up big based on early votes.
  • Kentucky — Still counting. Trump up by 9 points, although some of Cruz’s potentially better areas are outstanding.

Democrats:

  • Kansas — Called for Sanders, no data on margin of victory yet.
  • Nebraska — Called for Sanders, who’s up 10 percentage points with 75 percent reporting.
  • Louisiana — Called for Clinton, who will win huge.
9:28 PM

Is Trump doing well enough tonight to keep on track to win the nomination? Well, he won 9 delegates in Kansas and 9 delegates in Maine. In Maine, he came in on target, according to our projections. Trump fell far short of his 16 delegate target in Kansas, however.

Cruz, on the other hand, finished 4 delegates ahead of his target in Kansas and 3 delegates ahead in Maine. What is clear is that Kansas and Maine were disasters for Rubio; he ended up 7 delegates short in Kansas and 10 delegates below his target in Maine.

We’ll have to wait to see how Louisiana and Kentucky get split up.

9:25 PM

And, as expected, AP has called Louisiana for Trump.

9:17 PM

As expected, AP has called Louisiana for Clinton.

9:15 PM

We don’t doubt that Trump is likely to win Louisiana, where he was way ahead in polls and is ahead by 23 percentage points in initial returns. According to Decision Desk HQ, however, the results so far are early votes cast before election day. So how much Trump’s margin declines over the course of the evening, if it does it all, could provide some indication of whether the last few days of campaign news have hurt him.

9:13 PM
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9:10 PM

To riff on what Harry said earlier: combined between the four Ohio border counties to have reported thus far in Kentucky, Trump has won 32 percent of the vote, Cruz 31 percent, Kasich 23 percent and Rubio 14 percent. (These percentages exclude votes for Ben Carson and other withdrawn candidates.)  That’s interesting for Kasich heading into Ohio, but also perhaps an auspicious sign for Cruz since he’s nearly tied with Trump. There are no results in yet from highly populous Kenton County, home to Covington, a prominent Cincinnati suburb.

9:09 PM

Our colleagues at ABC News just called Nebraska for Sanders. He is leading there by about 10 percentage points with about 75 percent of the vote counted. A win is a win, but his margin is smaller than we’d expect if the race were tied nationally. Not only that, but it’s far less than 35-percentage-point margin then Sen. Barack Obama won the caucus by eight years ago.

8:56 PM
What Does Maine Mean?

Maine is officially called for Cruz, who won 46 percent of the vote and 12 delegates. Trump took 33 percent and 9 delegates, Kasich took 12 percent and 2 delegates and Rubio won 8 percent and no delegates. That’s a very healthy victory for Cruz in the Northeast, where he has otherwise struggled. Trump had easily won in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, which border Maine. Did Trump fall short in Maine because it was a caucus? Did something change in the past few days that allowed Cruz to crush him? Is Cruz finally coalescing the anti-Trump vote? We obviously don’t know, but it was a good night for Cruz in Maine and a bad one for Rubio and Trump.

8:52 PM
Lots Of Pluralities

So far, 16 Republican states have fully reported results (including Kansas tonight) and in none of them has a candidate won a majority of the vote. The nearest misses were in Massachusetts, where Trump got 49 percent of the vote, and in Kansas, where Cruz got 48 percent.

We’ve got too much going on tonight to confirm whether this is a record of some sort, but it looks as though it might be. In the contentious 1972 Democratic primary, for example, Ed Muskie got 62 percent of the vote in Illinois, the fourth state to vote. In the 2012 Republican race, Mitt Romney got (just barely) over 50 percent in Nevada, the fifth state to vote.

Note, however, that Trump could plausibly get to 50 percent in Louisiana, where polls close in a few minutes. He was as high as 48 percent in one poll of the state.

8:51 PM

The Maine GOP has, after considerable preamble, announced Cruz as the winner.

8:40 PM

One minor note of caution about Kentucky, where Trump has a 12 percentage point lead with 26 percent of precincts reporting: the share of precincts isn’t the same thing as the number of votes. That’s especially true in Kentucky, which seems to be reporting every county as a single precinct. The counties reporting so far represent about 18 percent of Kentucky’s population, rather than 26 percent.

8:33 PM
Bernie Wins Kansas

Kansas was just called for Bernie Sanders by the Kansas Democratic Party. And it’s worth asking whether it fits the pattern of other states Sanders has won. Kansas is white, of course, but is it liberal?

Of course Kansas is not liberal, you’re saying. (Even if there is a Liberal, Kansas.) Kansas hasn’t voted Democrat for president since 1964.

But Kansas also doesn’t have that many Democrats period, which means the ones who vote may nevertheless be fairly liberal. According to the 2008 exit poll from the general election in Kansas — there was no exit poll conducted of Kansas’s caucus that year, so this the best we can do — 39 percent of Democrats who voted in the general election were liberal. That’s fairly similar to the percentage of Democrats nationwide who identified as liberal that year, 42 percent. Furthermore, Kansas holds a caucus, which tends to attract a higher share of liberal voters than primaries or general elections do.

8:30 PM

If you’re looking for hints ahead of the Ohio primary on March 15, look at the map of Kentucky tonight. You see that Kasich is pulling decent numbers along the Ohio/Kentucky border. He’s at 21 percent in Gallatin county and 26 percent in Campbell county. That could be good news for Kasich as we head into a must-win primary for him.

8:17 PM

We’re excited to see if/when Maine is officially called for Cruz, and whether Trump’s early lead in Kentucky holds up. But remember, that doesn’t matter all that much from the standpoint of the delegate math. Maine and Kentucky are both strictly proportional, subject to a 5 percent threshold in Kentucky and a 10 percent one in Maine. Relatedly, Rubio is currently running below that 10 percent threshold in Maine, which would deprive him of any delegates from the state.

8:13 PM

There’s clearly some geographic patterns to Cruz’s and Trump’s support in Kentucky. Trump is cleaning up in coal country in the eastern part of the state, while Cruz has gotten his best percentages from the two counties that have reported in the west. A lot more of coal country has reported than the west, so on that basis one would expect Trump’s 11-percentage-point lead to shrink. We are, of course, also waiting on the vote from Lexington and Louisville, which are big population centers.

8:06 PM
Democrats!

Democrats are voting in Kansas, Nebraska and Louisiana today, and we still haven’t seen any results yet. But it’s worth taking a look at our state-by-state demographic benchmarks. They suggest that, if Clinton and Sanders were tied nationally, Sanders would win Kansas by 18 percentage points and Nebraska by 17 percentage points, but lose Louisiana by 28 percentage points. Keep in mind, however, that Sanders has fallen well behind pace in the delegate race and will need to not just match but beat those targets as we go forward through the primary calendar.

7:54 PM

The real thing we’re waiting for as the votes come in from Kentucky is Fayette County (Lexington) and especially Jefferson County (Louisville). A strong margin in those counties for Cruz could tip the state in his direction, but Trump will likely win the state if he carries both counties.

7:53 PM
What Cruz’s Performance In Maine Means

Although the margin of Cruz’s win in Kansas is a big deal — with all results reported, he beat Trump 48 percent to 23 percent — his performance in Maine might be even more surprising. Decision Desk HQ has now called Maine for Cruz — in fact, it looks like Cruz could win by some margin — although the networks haven’t yet.

When I wrote about Maine a few days ago, I said it was unpredictable (that part looks smart) but mentioned Kasich, not Cruz, as the candidate to keep an eye on (that part doesn’t look so smart). Cruz couldn’t have won Maine just by winning evangelicals, since it has relatively few of them (although more than other parts of New England). Cruz also seems to have made inroads with a relatively broad spectrum of conservatives: libertarian-ish voters who nearly gave Ron Paul a win their four years ago; working-class voters Down East.

If this all sounds a bit vague, it’s because there are neither exit polls in Maine nor detailed county-by-county results yet. But it doesn’t make Cruz’s performance any less impressive.

7:49 PM

Although Kentucky is officially holding caucuses, they are functioning much more like a primary than caucuses normally do. The polls were open for six hours, and there were no speeches allowed. That might be part of the reason Trump may do better in Kentucky than in Kansas or Maine.

7:43 PM

Trump won overwhelmingly in “coal country” in far western Virginia and far northeast Tennessee, so it’s not surprising that he did really well in the Kentucky county most representative of coal country to have reported so far: Clay County, which gave 58 percent of its vote to Trump and 23 percent to Cruz. Coal country might be enough to tip Kentucky to Trump, even if he and Cruz run fairly evenly throughout the rest of the state.

7:31 PM
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7:25 PM

Micah, here’s what I would have said going into the night:

  • 4 wins — great night for Trump;
  • 3 wins — status quo, in line with expectations;
  • 2 wins — shows vulnerability, although Trump is still the frontrunner;
  • 1 win — Trump may have major problems, although keep in mind these are small, quirky states;
  • 0 wins — no more excuses; this means he somehow lost Louisiana — catastrophe.

Obviously the margins matter too, however. If Trump loses Kansas and Maine big but only narrowly wins Kentucky and Louisiana, that might be closer to the “1 win” than the “2 win” interpretation.

7:23 PM

So let’s say Cruz wins Maine, as Harry suspects will happen. If Trump wins Kentucky and Louisiana, won’t the results today not seem so bad for him?

7:22 PM

There are reports that Cruz has carried York County in Maine by a small margin. If that turns out to be true, it seems likely that Cruz will pull out the win. York was a fairly good county for Romney in 2012 and is not as rural, where Cruz tends to do best, as the rest of Maine.

7:13 PM

Appropriately, the first results from Kentucky came in from Bourbon County, which gave Cruz and Trump 32 percent each, Kasich 18 percent and Rubio 16 percent.

It’s been some time since we had a competitive Republican caucus or primary in Kentucky, so the results are hard to put into context. In the past few presidential general elections, however, Bourbon County — which consists of working-class exurbs in the Lexington metro area — has been a reasonably good bellwether, voting about the same as Kentucky does overall.

7:03 PM
A Bad Night For Marco Rubio

It’s been a real bad night for Rubio, who has just 15 percent of the vote in Kansas and 9 percent in Maine based on results reported to date. Cruz, in my view and that of prediction markets, is now the second-most likely candidate to win the GOP nomination after Trump.

The only silver lining for Rubio is that Trump is having a really bad night also. At the very least, Trump’s results aren’t consistent with those of an “inevitable” nominee. It’s also possible that Trump’s numbers are in decline, but we’ll know more about that after Kentucky and Louisiana results are in and after Michigan and Mississippi vote on Tuesday.

If so, that opens up some possibilities for other candidates down the road, including an outcome where Cruz and Trump each wind up with something like 40 percent of delegates, with the other 20 percent belonging to Rubio, Kasich or going into the convention unbound. One almost wonders whether Rubio and Kasich, either of whom probably require a contested convention to win the nomination, might find ways to start working together.

6:57 PM

We’re starting to get the vote count in Maine (36 percent of precincts reporting), and Cruz is holding on to his lead. According to our friends over at the Decision Desk HQ, Cruz has 43 percent to Trump’s 33 percent, with Kasich at 15 percent and Rubio at just 9 percent. That would be a great result for Cruz and a bad one for Trump (who was most favored in Maine today) and for Rubio, who would fall short of the 10 percent threshold to receive any delegates.

6:45 PM
About That ARG Poll In Michigan

I’m seeing a lot of people get excited about an American Research Group poll that shows Kasich (!) pulling ahead of Trump in Michigan, 33 percent to 31 percent. It’s a newsy result, but here’s why you should be a little skeptical.

First, American Research Group is not a highly-rated pollster. In fact, they rank toward the bottom of our pollster ratings. Much to their credit, they’ll sometimes post results that are way different from the pack, so you can’t accuse them of herding. But their results are interesting more often than they’re accurate.

Second, ARG has (for whatever reason) a large, pro-Kasich “house effect.” On average, their polls have been about 6 percentage points more favorable to Kasich than other polls conducted of the same states at about the same time.

Third, there are a lot of other recent polls of Michigan and they don’t show anything like that result. True, not quite as recent as ARG’s poll, which was conducted yesterday and today. But pretty recent nonetheless.

Our polling average in Michigan, which adjusts for house effects, accounts for pollster quality and tries to balance recency against other factors, has Kasich at 19.4 percent in Michigan. That’s good for second place, but it’s still well behind Trump’s 35.9 percent.

Of course, it’s definitely possible that Trump’s numbers are declining based on the debate and other events of recent days. That would give Kasich, Cruz and Rubio a better chance to pick up wins down the road. But the better indication of that is the poor results Trump has gotten so far tonight, and not an ARG poll.

6:28 PM

Want more up-to-date results in Maine? Check out Decision Desk HQ. They have Cruz leading Trump 45 percent to 36 percent, with 27 percent of the state reporting.

6:24 PM

We obviously still have some time to go, but with 73 percent of precincts reporting in Kansas, turnout is about 46,000. In 2012, it was just under 30,000. In other words, turnout is way up, and yet Trump is going down to a big defeat. That’s why I don’t much buy into these arguments that Trump is driving big turnout. Many people in Kansas, it seems, came out to vote against him.

6:13 PM

As an election watcher, days like this are among the best. You get results pretty much all day, and the results haven’t been as expected. Yes, I thought Cruz had a good shot in Kansas, but I didn’t expect him to win by this margin. We also are waiting on official results from Maine, where Cruz wasn’t thought to be competitive, and yet he is ahead in the early results.

6:12 PM

The Republican race is quite challenging to model demographically, and also isn’t all that well-explained by ideology. So I expect that personality really might have something to do with it. Is it a coincidence that some of Trump’s worst performances so far are in “nice” states like Minnesota and Kansas, and that his best is in neurotic, loud Massachusetts? I’m not saying this is the most important factor, but it’s something worth thinking about.

6:11 PM

Regarding the Midwestern wall, what is it about Trump that Kansans and others dislike? His extremely non-Midwestern personality and outsize ego? Or his unorthodox ideology?

5:52 PM

There’s so much going on in the race — including the differences between open primaries, closed primaries and caucuses — that everything is a little overdetermined. But it’s not that Cruz beat Trump in Kansas that’s a shock. It’s the margin that’s shocking: 27 percentage points (!) as I type this. Plus, Cruz possibly winning Maine, which would be a surprise by any margin. There’s the risk of reading too much into all of this this, but there’s the risk of reading too LITTLE into it also. We’ll know more after we see the results in Kentucky and Louisiana.

5:50 PM

Well, I’d say we expected Cruz to do well in Kansas, but the press he’s going to get off this win — plus what looks like a possible victory in Maine — can only help. I’d like to see more results before saying anything.

5:50 PM

So Cruz has won Kansas, do we have any way to tell whether the GOP elites’ #NeverTrump campaign is working? Or maybe Cruz was always going to Kansas? After all, Rick Santorum carried Kansas in 2012, as did Mike Huckabee in 2008.

5:44 PM

Our colleagues at ABC News have called Kansas for Cruz.

5:43 PM
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5:39 PM

Most news outlets are now calling Kansas for Cruz. Not a big surprise, as he holds a 24-percentage-point lead, and the 3rd congressional district is now reporting.

5:37 PM
Fortunately For Trump, Size Doesn’t Matter

With Cruz set to win Kansas — the networks haven’t called it officially yet, but having a 24-percentage-point lead with half the vote counted is usually pretty safe — it will continue a pattern: Cruz tends to win geographically big states, like Alaska and Texas. Trump’s states? Well, they’re pretty small if we’re being honest. Nevada is the only Trump state in the top 20 in square mileage.

Counting Kansas, Cruz has won states covering 1,142,430 square miles. Trump’s states cover just 422,054 square miles by comparison. Sad!

CANDIDATE STATES WON SQUARE MILEAGE
Cruz 5 1,142,430
Trump 10 422,054
Rubio 1 86,936

Cruz wins include Kansas, which has not been called officially yet.

5:35 PM

A: Good question Robert. I think the Associated Press is waiting for more votes from the 3rd congressional district. As soon as they get them, they’ll call it.

5:24 PM
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5:20 PM

Kentucky does seem more likely than Louisiana, yes. Especially given that Cruz is performing well in some areas Ron Paul won in Maine, which might suggest he could get some support among Rand Paul supporters in Kentucky. Louisiana, on the other hand … Trump might lose ground relative to the polls but that’s not the same thing as losing the state. I’m not quite sure what odds I’d give Cruz there, although they’re up from whatever they were this morning.

5:19 PM

Nate, do you agree with Harry? Kentucky does seem more likely to reject Trump than Louisiana, right?

5:14 PM

Well, Louisiana is a primary. It’s closed, which is bad for Trump, but it’s still a primary, which is good for Trump. That means the public polls are likely to be more reliable, and they have had Trump ahead. He also has done very well in the Deep South outside of Texas (if you consider Texas the Deep South). Still, Louisiana could be closer than the polls suggest. As for Kentucky, we’ve had such little polling there, and it is a caucus. I’m very interested to see the results there. I honestly don’t know what will happen.

5:12 PM

Harry, we’re having a little bit of a lull in vote-counting in Kansas and Maine, so I’m going to ask you to engage in some irresponsible speculation. Given what we’ve seen form Kansas and Maine so far, do you think Trump’s also at risk of losing Kentucky or Louisiana? Or do those look pretty safe for him?

5:03 PM
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5:02 PM

Another lesson from Kansas: caucuses and robopolls don’t mix. An automated poll from the Trafalgar Group earlier this week had Trump beating Cruz in Kansas by 6 percentage points. Right now, Cruz is winning by 25 points instead. Yes, a lot has changed in the last few days, but that’s a pretty bad miss.

5:01 PM

We’re starting to get official results from Maine. With one of the state’s 22 precincts now reporting, Cruz is ahead 48 percent to Trump’s 35 percent, with Rubio (9 percent) and Kasich (7 percent) rounding out the field. We don’t know where these results are coming from, so caution is in order.

4:52 PM

Is there any hope for Trump in Kansas? The state’s 3rd congressional district has yet to report any results so he’d have to make up a lot of ground there. But the 3rd district isn’t particularly Trumpian: It includes Kansas City, Kansas, along with wealthy, moderate, highly-educated suburbs like Overland Park and Shawnee. Their demographics aren’t particularly great for Cruz, but they aren’t good for Trump either. They look more like places where Rubio or Kasich might make up ground.

4:38 PM

Assuming that Cruz goes on to win Kansas, where he leads by 23 percentage points with 18 percent of precincts reporting, then Republicans in Middle America will be on the verge of forming an anti-Trump wall. Minnesota (which went for Rubio), Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas would all have voted against Trump. If either Missouri or Nebraska eventually does also, then a line of states stretching from the Canadian to the Mexican border will have rejected Trump for another candidate.

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4:32 PM
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4:31 PM

Q: Are there any other notable historical instances of “the establishment” of a party rallying so quickly and early around a third-place performing candidate? — commenter Wes Cowan

A: I’m not sure there is any historical precedent that close to what’s happening in the Republican race this year, Wes. I guess you could argue that the “establishment” rallied around Bill Clinton in 1992 despite Clinton having no wins and then losing many of the early contests. Then again, many members of the GOP “establishment” have NOT rallied around Rubio. He has more support than his competitors, but plenty Republican bigwigs have decided not to endorse anyone.

4:24 PM

Q: Any winner-take-all thresholds to be aware of? — commenter Raymond N Desiree Eddings

A: The only winner-take-all scenario possible today is in Maine IF one candidate gets over 50 percent statewide. Otherwise, all the delegate allocation is proportional.

4:19 PM
Carson’s Exit May Help Cruz

Micah, I think Carson dropping out could definitely be a factor helping Cruz. I’ve been spending some time looking at how the Republican vote has gone congressional district by congressional district. A lot of the results are what you might expect — Rubio’s vote has a strong inverse correlation with Trump’s, for example. But there has also been a reasonably strong positive correlation between Cruz’s vote and Carson’s. Here are those results; they exclude Cruz’s home state of Texas, where he’s done far better than anywhere else and which would otherwise skew them pretty badly.

CANDIDATE CORRELATION WITH CARSON
Cruz +0.61
Trump -0.17
Rubio -0.20
Kasich -0.67
Carson’s vote could be going to Cruz

Correlation in vote share by congressional district, excluding Texas

4:10 PM

Nate, with Cruz looking like he could have a good day, is it safe to say he may be getting a bump from former Ben Carson supporters? As Harry chronicled this week, Carson dropped out:

4:09 PM

We now have 12 percent of precincts reporting in Kansas, and it looks like Cruz land. He leads 50 percent to Trump’s 25 percent and Rubio’s 14 percent. Not only that, but Cruz holds a significant lead in all three of the congressional districts currently reporting results. Unless something changes significantly, Cruz is going to win Kansas with ease.

4:01 PM

Here’s where things stand, from The New York Times:

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3:59 PM

And to follow up on Harry’s point, the only primary today, Louisiana, is closed. To date, there’s been only one other closed primary, Oklahoma, and it went for Cruz, defying polling that had shown Trump with a lead there. There are many important closed primaries down the road, however, including Arizona, California, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania.

3:58 PM

When watching the results from Kansas and Maine, keep in mind that both are closed caucuses. That means you have to be a registered member of the party to participate, while many Trump supporters come from outside the Republican Party. If the early results hold and Trump disappoints in both states, the closed nature of the caucuses could be one reason why. Also, organization matters a lot in caucuses. Cruz is generally regarded as the best organized candidate.

3:35 PM
Early Indications Favorable For Cruz

It’s very early, but it’s looking like a potentially good day for Ted Cruz.

As Harry said, Cruz leads with 45 percent of the vote so far in the Kansas caucuses, although only 2 percent of precincts have reported and they’re in Central and Western Kansas, which should be relatively favorable for Cruz. A Kansas win wouldn’t be hugely surprising for Cruz given that polls there showed a toss-up and that prediction markets had Cruz favored.

A win in Maine would be a bigger upset, however, and it looks as though Cruz could get one there also. The state has not officially reported results yet, but reports from caucus-goers on Twitter suggest that Cruz has won big in Waldo, Hancock and Kennebec counties. All three voted for Ron Paul in 2012, so perhaps Cruz is inheriting some of that vote.

Cruz is also performing strongly in Google searches in Kentucky and other states. In the past, this has sometimes been a good indicator of a candidate who is drawing a lot of last-minute interest from voters.

All of this is a bit fragmentary, of course. But that’s what we have to work with for now.

3:31 PM

We’re starting to get official results for the Republicans in Kansas, and so far they look pretty good for Cruz. He leads the very early returns 45 percent to 29 percent over Trump. Keep in mind, it’s just 2 percent of the precincts. Perhaps more shocking is that Kasich is running about even with Rubio in the early results, which would be awful for Rubio.

3:23 PM
Welcome

Republicans go to the polls in four states today: Maine, Kansas, Kentucky and Louisiana. Democrats vote in Louisiana, Kansas and Nebraska. What’s going to happen? Well, we don’t really know; there have been very few polls released for any of the contests.

But we can pretty much guarantee the results will be interesting. Republican Party elites, including the party’s last two nominees, have come out in full force against Donald Trump in recent days, but how will Republican voters respond? Perhaps Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz’s attacks on Trump in Thursday’s GOP debate will have some effect. Or, perhaps some Republican voters will start to rally behind John Kasich’s more unifying message.

And on the Democratic side, can Hillary Clinton solidify her lead over Bernie Sanders?

Nate Silver and Harry Enten will be following all the results and posting occasional updates here. So check back with us throughout the evening and night for the latest results and analysis.

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