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We’re calling it a night after one of the chalkier days of the campaign so far. All the favorites won, although in some cases the margins were a bit larger than we might have expected.
Trump had a very impressive victory in Arizona. Because it’s a winner-take-all state, the margin doesn’t matter from the standpoint of the delegate math. But it’s a good sign for how future states might go for Trump — especially California, which is among the most important states in Trump’s chase for 1,237 delegates.
However, Ted Cruz will win the Utah caucuses, and will very probably do so with more than 50 percent of the vote, meaning he’ll get all 40 delegates there. Meanwhile, it appears as though all of American Samoa’s delegates will go to the convention in Cleveland uncommitted. Thus, we expect the delegate count on the evening to be Trump 58, Cruz 40, uncommitted 9. That’s pretty good for Trump, although slightly fewer delegates than our “expert” panel expected earlier this week. Somewhat in contrast to last week’s primaries, therefore, when the headlines about close races didn’t quite express how well Trump had done in collecting delegates, this night is more of a morale/momentum boost for Trump than something that will dramatically increase his chances of getting to 1,237.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton won Arizona easily, while Bernie Sanders won Utah and (although it hasn’t been called officially yet) very probably will win Idaho — in both cases perhaps by overwhelming margins. Thus, it’s probable — likely if I had to guess — that Sanders will win more pledged delegates on the evening.
Not all the news is good for Sanders, however. He was expected to win more delegates on the evening based on our demographic targets — and more importantly, he’s far enough behind Clinton that he needs to not just meet but blow out his delegate targets the rest of the way to have a shot at eventually catching Clinton. Alaska, Hawaii and Washington will vote on Saturday, states where we expect Sanders to perform well.
As a slight counter to that though, Harry, Trump’s margin in Arizona — which apparently held up pretty well in election day votes, although they’re taking forever to count — is pretty darn impressive. No, that doesn’t matter for the delegate math since Arizona is winner-take-all. But it’s a sign that the other campaigns have a lot of work to do if they want to win large, relatively diverse states.
Going strictly by the math (which may be dangerous if Trump picks up momentum after tonight), this was not a great night for Trump. Our expert delegate panel expected him to pick up 64 delegates tonight in the same projection that had him falling short of 1,237 after all the votes were cast. Our delegate target for Trump to reach 1,237 before the convention had him winning 70 delegates tonight. In reality, Trump’s likely only going to pick up a total of 58 delegates from American Samoa, Arizona and Utah.
It looks as though Sanders has a good shot to get more delegates than Clinton tonight.
Clinton is winning Arizona by 22 percentage points right now, which would translate to a net gain of about 16 pledged delegates on Sanders. And Arizona has more pledged delegates than Utah and Idaho combined. However, Sanders could net more delegates on the night if he wins Utah and Idaho by more than about 30 percentage points. Based on the results we’ve seen so far, he could fairly easily do that.
It turns out my wild dreams do sometimes come true. I was worried that we wouldn’t have results from the Republican caucuses in American Samoa before our live blog shut down for the night, but our friends at the Decision Desk report that all nine of American Samoa’s delegates will be announced as uncommitted.
OK, maybe I’m just grasping for some excitement on a night when Trump has swept Arizona and Cruz will sweep Utah. But, I’m genuinely curious as to whether Kasich can avoid the embarrassment of finishing behind Trump in Utah.
Right now, Kasich leads Trump 22 percent to 19 percent, thanks to a strong first place finish in tiny Sevier County and a solid second place showing in metropolitan Salt Lake County. But Trump leads Kasich 27 percent to 16 percent in booming Washington County, which is actually on the fringes of the Las Vegas metro area and has a decent population of non-LDS voters.
Kasich’s the favorite to top Trump based on the earliest returns, but I’m not ready to predict that Mitt Romney will award him the silver medal here quite yet.
The Boise, Idaho (Ada County) caucus sites just reported their Democratic results on CNN. Technically, it’s just the first ballot — voters have a chance to change their vote — but Sanders is doing extremely well, with 80 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 18 percent out of about 9,100 votes cast.
Earlier, I listed the states where the Clinton tandem has gone 5-for-5. What about the reverse? States where the Clintons have gone 0-for-5?
There are none yet, but there might be one soon. Bill Clinton lost Utah to Paul Tsongas in 1992, and in both his general election bids. Hillary Clinton lost it to Obama in 2008. And it looks like she’s about to lose it to Sanders this year.
Alaska is the only other potential 0-for-5 Clinton state, as far as I can tell.
On the Democratic side in Utah, Sanders looks like he’s heading towards an easy win. He’s up 63 percent to 33 percent in the early returns.
And at the risk of being repetitive: so far, as Dave pointed out, the results are pretty consistent across Utah, with Cruz above 50 percent all candidates to have reported votes so far. There’s nothing in from Salt Lake County, however, so we’ll wait at least a little bit longer.
About 2 percent of caucus sites are reporting across 11 counties in Utah. Cruz is above 50 percent in all 11 counties, and his share ranges from 55 percent (Millard County) to 80 percent (Rich County). As Harry said, this is looking like a clean 40 delegate sweep for Cruz. Tonight is looking like a pretty cut-and-dry night, delegate-wise.
We’ve got the first official returns from Utah, and it’s Cruz in a rout. He leads 62 percent to Trump’s 23 percent. If those results hold, he’ll win all 40 delegates from the state.
So far this year, Clinton’s map has resembled Barack Obama’s from 2008 as much as her own in 2008, but Arizona is one of the states she won both this year and in 2016.
But let’s raise the bar a little higher. In which states have the Clintons gone 5-for-5? That means a win for Bill Clinton in the 1992 Democratic primary, and both the 1992 and 1996 general elections — and a win for Hillary Clinton in both 2008 and 2016.
Arizona doesn’t qualify. Bill Clinton won it in the 1996 general election, but lost it in both the 1992 general election and primary.
As far as I can tell, the only 5-for-5 Clinton states so far are Arkansas, Tennessee and Ohio.
Several other states could potentially join them, however, where the Clintons are 4-for-4 and which haven’t voted yet in the Democratic primary yet this year. They include Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
The Clinton campaign has done about a 180-degree turn over the last month and a half. After New Hampshire, some thought the Clinton campaign was in trouble. Clinton then won Nevada and really hasn’t looked back. Not only has her pledged delegate lead grown, but Trump’s delegate lead has blossomed at the same time. Trump may somehow end up being a strong general election nominee, but at this point he is even more disliked than Clinton, who isn’t adored by the general public herself. Clinton could also benefit from President Obama’s rising job approval ratings, which are now regularly topping 50 percent in the Gallup tracking poll. All in all, things seem to be turning Clinton’s way at the right time.
Dave noted a similarity between the Arizona and Florida votes in at least one retirement community, but I’d take the comparison a step further and say the two states have voted like each other in a number of recent primaries. Trump is getting roughly the same share of the vote (46 percent) in Arizona as he did in Florida. Clinton is getting 60 percent in Arizona and got 64 percent in Florida. In 2012, Romney got 46 percent in Florida and 47 percent in Arizona. In 2008, Clinton got 50 percent in both states.
Is Trump’s huge win in Arizona tonight because of counties on the Mexican border? Not necessarily. He’s doing well in border countries, but not any better or worse than elsewhere in the state. So far, Trump has 43 percent of the vote in highly populous Pima County (which contains Tucson), 49 percent in Yuma County, 45 percent in Santa Cruz County, and 49 percent in Cochise County. All those results are pretty similar to the 46 percent of the vote he has statewide.
Looking ahead on the Democratic side, I’d expect it to be a pretty good weekend for Sanders. While there really hasn’t been any polling in Alaska, Hawaii or Washington, Nate’s demographic model has Sanders favored in all three states by at least 17 percentage points. Obviously those projections come with a margin of error, but Sanders fans can take delight in what should be three victories. The problem, of course, is that Alaska and Hawaii are small states with few delegates up grabs, so it’ll be difficult for Sanders to make too big of a dent in Clinton’s delegate lead.
To follow up on my own question about Utah in the general election, Harry — yeah, usually I’d be super dismissive of a poll showing Democrats with a shot there. I can vaguely remember early polls from past presidential elections showing Republicans running competitively in Connecticut, Barack Obama with a chance to win North Dakota, and so forth. You take enough polls, especially in the early going, and you’ll get a few goofy results.
The thing about Utah, though, is that it’s dominated by one demographic group, Mormons, that doesn’t have a big presence in other states. And they have some plausible reasons to object to Trump — they’re a minority group in many senses, and Trump’s populist politics are potentially dangerous to any minority group. So it’s not that hard to imagine a big shift among that one group that isn’t replicated elsewhere. It’s easier to imagine Clinton winning Utah than winning Nebraska, for instance.
One thing to keep in mind as we watch the returns on the Republican side tonight is that the calendar slows down considerably over the next month. Between now and April 19, we have only the Wisconsin (April 5) and New York (April 19) primaries. That means we’ll be moving to a state-to-state campaign. It’s not until April 26 that we have a night with multiple states voting at one time again.
“Would a third party stand a chance given Trump and Clinton’s negative favorability?” — commenter Zach Dasher
In the abstract, it’s a very good opportunity for a third party candidate to run. The challenges are still manifest, however. For one thing, it’s a little late at this point to be assured of ballot access in all 50 states.
But more importantly, it’s hard for a third-party candidate to build a winning coalition. You might think, “well, there are plenty of independents,” but independents don’t necessarily agree on all that much. Some of them are more Trumpian, some are more Bloombergian, and some are “closet partisans” who are independent in name only. So most of the time, a third-party candidate is going to take votes unevenly from the two major parties. And whichever major party she takes fewer votes from will tend to win with a fairly clear plurality.
As I noted earlier, the first unofficial returns from Utah suggest that Cruz is going to win by a lot. Perhaps more interestingly, the early returns also suggest that Trump will run in a very distant third place. Nate, I’m usually not one to try and predict general election results from primary outcomes, but Trump seems to have a big problem with Mormon voters, and they make up the majority of voters in Utah. It’s not just that they prefer Cruz and Kasich to him; it’s that they really don’t like Trump or what he stands for. While I think Trump would still carry the very Republican state of Utah in the general election, I’m not sure I can simply dismiss out-of-hand polls showing him trailing Clinton.
We haven’t seen any official results from Utah yet, but reports from caucus sites suggest Trump will do quite poorly there. Do you think Democrats could win Utah in November, as a poll this week suggested?
Here’s an interesting tweet from Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe:
However, in Maricopa County, the earliest election day returns show Trump leading Cruz 5,011 to 2,847, a tiny bit tighter than the early votes but not vastly different as was the case in Louisiana a few weeks back. My guess is that Trump’s margin over Cruz will continue to shrink tonight, but that he’ll still end up with a solid double digit win.
There are 131 pledged delegates at stake tonight for Democrats. It’s going to be hard for Sanders to win a majority of those given that Arizona has most of the delegates and Clinton is winning big there, but it’s not impossible if he crushes it in Utah and Idaho. So let’s say he almost does it. Clinton gets 66 delegates on the night and Sanders gets 65.
That would get Sanders up to 920 pledged delegates, while Clinton would have 1,242, with 1,889 pledged delegates still outstanding. Skipping a little bit of math, but Sanders would need 59 percent of the remaining total to tie Clinton in pledged delegates. That’s really difficult to do; it would be equivalent to beating Clinton by 18 percentage points the rest of the way out. Merely breaking even in delegates isn’t nowhere near enough for Sanders at this point.
Tonight’s likely result of a split verdict — Trump winning Arizona and Cruz stomping him in Utah — would seem to suggest a close fight between the two from here on out. But the problem for Cruz is the same one we’ve been talking about for over a month: There just aren’t a ton of great states for him later in the calendar. Almost every state with a high share of evangelical Protestants have already voted, and the two states with the highest shares of Mormons — Trump’s worst group by a mile — will have already voted after tonight (Idaho and Utah).
In fact, between now and June, the only states left where more than 3-in-10 residents are either evangelical Protestants or Mormons are Indiana (32 percent), Montana (32 percent), Oregon (33 percent) and West Virginia (41 percent). Together, these states account for just 146 of the 905 delegates at stake in remaining contests. And, West Virginia is probably Trump’s prototypical state, not Cruz’s. To me, these are the most damning statistics when it comes to Cruz’s bid to prevent Trump from winning 1,237 delegates.
There’s been an ongoing question during the Democratic campaign about which candidate is winning the Latino vote. In Nevada, the exit polls suggested Sanders carried the Latino vote, while an examination of precinct-level results argued Clinton did. In Florida and Texas, it was clear Clinton won Latinos. We don’t have any exit polls tonight, but it would seem that Clinton is again winning the Latino vote. In the votes counted so far from Santa Cruz County (83 percent Latino), Clinton is winning 70 percent of the vote. In Yuma County (62 percent Latino), she’s taking 67 percent of the vote.
Here’s part of the reason I think Trump’s apparently easy win in Arizona is important. I know Arizona looked like a good state for Trump all along. And I know we’re all into the delegate math here at FiveThirtyEight. It’s our thing.
But the delegate math suggests that Trump’s quest for 1,237 delegates could be close. He might just get over the finish line, or he might finish 10, 50, 100 delegates short. Or maybe something goes wrong and he finishes 200 delegates short instead, in which case he’d have a lot more work left to do.
To the extent Trump doesn’t clinch outright, however, and needs help from unpledged delegates or even delegates on the convention floor, there’s going to be a question of whether Trump has a mandate from Republican voters. It’s not so hard to deny him the nomination if everything is a big mess. It’s harder if Trump’s winning the strong majority of high-profile states, no one else is close, and Trump is just happening to come up a few delegates short. In my view, Cruz not only has to keep Trump below 1,237 — he probably has to create some real doubt about what Republican voters really want. He didn’t do that in Arizona tonight.
According to our delegate tracker, Sanders needs about 58 percent of the delegates from here on out to overtake Clinton in the pledged delegate count. Some of tonight’s results might give Bernie backers false hope: He could easily reach that share of the vote in Idaho and Utah. But as our scorecard indicates, wins of that magnitude won’t help Sanders meaningfully chip away at Clinton’s 300-pledged delegate lead. And, as Nate has noted, Arizona could easily negate Sanders delegate leads out of Idaho and Utah.
I’m not going to second guess the networks calling races, but one wonders about the ethics of calling a race when people are still standing in line to vote, as they are in Arizona.
We’re starting to see some unofficial results being reported from people on the ground in Utah. If those reports are at all representative of how the vote count will go — a big if — Cruz will end up easily over 50 percent and take all 40 delegates. We’ll have to wait and see if these reports are outliers, though.
That was fast. Our partners at ABC News and other news organizations are projecting the Democratic side of the Arizona primary as well. It’s gone to Clinton, who’s currently leading Sanders by 23 percentage points. That would translate to a net gain of about 17 delegates over Sanders.
Nate, I’m not really sure how an early voting system with receipts would work. What I want is excuse absentee voting (if you’re going to be out of the country, for example), same-day registration and a lot more voting places. I don’t think we should be having these long lines, but I truly do feel that election day should be election day. You run a campaign, and the campaign should be the same length of time for every voter.
Our colleagues at ABC News have also called Arizona for Trump. As Harry said, the result isn’t surprising, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a big deal. Trump gets 58 winner-take-all delegates and will probably finish among his highest percentages of the vote in any state so far, while Cruz misses out on another opportunity to build confidence around his chances.
The Associated Press has called Arizona for Trump. That’s not much of a surprise, but he’ll certainly enjoy winning the state and its 58 delegates.
Tonight’s results pretty much capture the Democratic side perfectly. Clinton is winning the state (Arizona) that has more delegates than the other states voting today combined, and she’s doing it by a wide margin. At the end of the day, it’s winning delegates, not states that matters. Clinton is doing so, which is why she’s the prohibitive favorite to be the nominee.
Micah, I disagree. I think we need to make it ridiculously easy for people to vote. Early, late, whatever. I also think you should get some sort of receipt that allows you to change your vote by election day if you’ve voted early.
Zombie GOP candidates taking over Arizona? Votes so far for Cruz: 53,149. Votes so far for candidates who have already dropped out: 61,736. That’s what can happen when you have a huge absentee/early vote culture, and it’s absolutely killing Cruz.
That high early vote share for Rubio in Arizona is devastating for Cruz, but let’s also remember that Trump is getting in the mid-40s, a number that would be hard to beat even if Rubio hadn’t gotten any votes.
Ahh, great question (although would be better if Nevada were voting as part of “Western Tuesdsay” also). I think Trump would be something like ace-jack offsuit. Not a lot of grace, and has a lot of vulnerabilities against stronger hands, but it’ll get the job done by brute force when no one else has much going for them, and has enough “showdown value” that you can call a lot of bluffs.
Ted Cruz would be a pair of 3’s. Not usually that useful in a crowded field, but can be fairly powerful as the field consolidates.
John Kasich is 7-4-offsuit and should have folded before the flop.
Clinton looks like she’s going to win the Democratic primary in Arizona, unless there’s some sort of shocker. She leads 62 percent to 36 percent in the early vote coming from Maricopa (where most of the votes will be cast).
Wow, I don’t think Ted Cruz can make up this kind of ground in Arizona.
Maricopa County’s early votes just reported, and Trump is doubling up Cruz, 45 percent to 20 percent, with 18 percent to Rubio. Trump really benefiting from a lot of voters casting ballots before Rubio’s exit.
To respond to Nate’s answer on when Clinton will cross the delegate majority threshold, I have a slightly different take. The media will probably treat the Democratic race as “clinched” when one candidate has 2,383 delegates, superdelegates included. Right now, according to the Associated Press, Clinton has the loyalty of 467 superdelegates and FiveThirtyEight’s count has her at 1,176 pledged delegates, meaning she only needs 740 more to reach a majority.
If she outperforms her targets to the same degree she has to date, she will win an additional 649 through the end of May and be on the very cusp of 2,383 delegates heading into the final primaries on June 7. So while she may not technically clinch the nomination until the very end, California could turn out to be treated as a mere formality.
I’m watching the coverage on CNN tonight, and they seem to regard the long lines in Arizona, Idaho and Utah as kind of cute, instead of something that’s pretty much an outrage in a democratic country.
It’s very possible that Clinton won’t win enough pledged delegates to clinch the nomination. A Democratic candidate needs about 59 percent of pledged delegates to win without any superdelegates. That’s pretty close to the pace Clinton is on right now, but the second half of the calendar probably isn’t as favorable to her as the first half.
It’s possible that after tonight, Cruz will join Rubio in the small club of GOP candidates who have won more than 50 percent of the vote in a primary. Rubio achieved that feat in Puerto Rico, while Cruz looks likely to break that mark in Utah tonight. But guess who still hasn’t? Trump, who has won more than half of primaries and caucuses but has yet to claim a majority of votes in any one state.
Crossing the 50 percent threshold anywhere would be symbolically and psychologically important for Trump. Now that this is a three-man race, his chances of getting there are better than ever. If Kasich turns in a very weak performance in Arizona tonight and Cruz doesn’t come especially close, Arizona could possibly be Trump’s “breakthrough” state in this regard. If not, Trump’s next opportunity to argue that the party is truly coalescing around him could be his home state primary of New York on April 19.
Harry, instead of a gutter campaign, I see a slightly different theme than you do. And the theme is that Trump is someone who lives by making threats. He not only threatens other candidates — he threatens protesters, threatens donors, threatens the media and threatens the Republican Party. Considering how much he’s gotten his way, it seems to be effective. Politics apparently isn’t a field that attracts people who have a lot of backbone.
The Republican campaign seems to get nastier by the moment. And it might have reached a low-point late today. In response to an ad by an anti-Trump super PAC that featured Trump’s wife Melania nearly naked, Trump tweeted out a threat about Cruz’s wife Heidi. Trump soon after deleted the Tweet, but then reposted it to ensure it included the phrase “Lyin’ Ted Cruz.”
Cruz responded to Trump’s tweet with one of his own:
Can this campaign get any more in the gutter?
I’m in Washington state, where Republicans hold a primary on May 24, and just saw an ad sponsored by a pro-Trump super PAC called Great America PAC. It was a bizarre commercial, with a vaguely used-car-lot-from-the-1980s feel, asking voters to call an 800-number to say which of four reasons — immigration?, “straight talk”? — made them love Trump the most.
Yes, Clinton is the overwhelming favorite in the Democratic nomination race. But to the extent it’s still competitive, I wouldn’t neglect the importance of the Democratic primary in Arizona tonight. It has 75 pledged delegates available — considerably more than Utah (33) and Idaho (23) combined. There wasn’t enough polling in Arizona for us to run a forecast, but if Clinton wins by as much as the periodic polls we’ve had there suggest, it could be hard for Sanders to win more delegates on the evening, even if he wins overwhelmingly in Idaho and Utah. On the other hand, if Sanders comes fairly close to Clinton in Arizona, it could be a good sign for how he’ll fare in California, which has a massive number of delegates available on June 7.
Since it’s hard to avoid the NCAA tournament comparisons this time of year: The Republican primary in Arizona is a bit like watching a No. 15-seed (Ted Cruz) play a No. 2-seed (Donald Trump). It’s not unimaginable that the 15-seed would win — these things happen occasionally (like last week). If it happens, it will be hugely consequential, since a loss in Arizona would badly damage Trump’s prospects of reaching 1,237 delegates before the convention. But it would be a pretty big upset, and there’s a good chance that the outcome of the “game” will be obvious within a few minutes.
There are a 107 delegates at stake today in the GOP presidential primary — Republicans vote in Arizona, Utah and American Samoa. On the Democratic side, the contests today — in Arizona, Utah and Idaho — mark the start of a stretch of states that Sanders should do very well in.
Here’s how we expect the night to go down, all time EDT unless otherwise noted (keep in mind, there are no entrance or exit polls in any contests tonight):
Already happened: The caucus doors closed for Democrats in Idaho at 9 p.m. (The Republicans voted in a primary earlier this month.) We don’t expect results until about 11 p.m. According to our demographics-based projections, Sanders should carry Idaho by 20+ percentage points in a race that is tied nationally.
Happening now: The polls in all of Arizona have closed. State law prohibits the release of results until 11 p.m., at which point the bulk of returns should come in. The polls have Clinton and Trump ahead, though the race is closer on the Republican side.
10:30 p.m.: The doors close for the Democratic Utah caucuses. It may take until 1:30 a.m. for the first results to be reported and until tomorrow morning for all the results to be tabulated. This is another state where Sanders is thought to be in a strong position.
1:00 a.m.: Thanks to newly implemented online voting, the Republican Utah caucuses won’t end until very late. First results should come in soon after 1, but we don’t know when the entire vote count will be completed. Cruz is supposed dominate in Utah.
Early Wednesday: The American Samoa Republican caucuses. We probably won’t stay up for this one.
Still, we’ll stick with you for most of the action. Grab your favorite caffeinated beverage and follow along, as there won’t be another Republican contest or Democratic primary for another two weeks.