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Updated 4:30 AM |

What Happened In The March 15 Primaries

Filed under 2016 Election


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Micah Cohen 12:47 AM Goodnight

UPDATE (March 16, 1:03 a.m.): NBC News is calling Clinton and Trump the “apparent” winners in Missouri.

UPDATE (March 16, 2:05 a.m.): We recorded a late-night podcast breaking down the night’s results. Take a listen to that here.

That does it for us, everyone. Thanks for sticking around. (If you want to relive it all chronologically, click here and scroll up through the nerdy goodness.) We’ll have a lot of analysis of tonight’s results for you to pick through along with your morning eggs and bacon. But as we shutter the live blog, there are two outstanding races, both in Missouri:

  • The Democratic contest in the Show-Me State remains very close. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton leads by 0.2 percentage points. There are still some votes remaining to report in Jackson County (Kansas City), where Clinton is holding about a 10 percentage point advantage. It looks like she could eke out a win.
  • The race in Missouri on the Republican side is equally tight, with Trump ahead by 0.3 percentage points. But Cruz and Trump are about equal in Jackson County and St. Louis County. Cruz needs a plot twist in the remaining vote to win the state.

Get some sleep.

Micah Cohen 12:34 AM

Our colleagues at ABC News have also called Illinois for Clinton.

David Wasserman 12:30 AM Missouri GOP Barn-Burner Update

OK, it’s 12:30 a.m. on the East Coast, and Missouri’s barn is still burning. Trump is clinging to a lead of just 2,111 votes (0.3 percent), but I’m not sure that Cruz can overcome that with what’s out. Many of the remaining precincts are in St. Louis City, which shouldn’t produce many GOP votes. There are some other outstanding precincts in St. Louis County and Kansas City’s Jackson County, but neither batch looks likely to net Cruz a ton more votes than Trump.

blytheterrell 12:23 AM

Fox News and CNN just called Illinois for Clinton. She’s now guaranteed to go four for five on the night, and five for five is still in play depending on those last few votes in Missouri.

David Wasserman 12:22 AM A Move To Winner-Take-All Is Helping Trump Crush It

Consider this: Up until today, Trump had won 42 percent of all GOP delegates with just 34 percent of the vote. By my estimate tonight, it appears he’s on track to win about 67 percent of the delegates at stake, even though he’s averaged only a hair over 40 percent of today’s votes. That’s a huge disparity. The reason: Today’s transition from proportional allocation to winner-take-all.

From now on, even tiny Trump pluralities (like the one we’re seeing just barely in Missouri, barring some magical Cruz precincts) will net him enormous shares of delegates. Up until today, only 5 percent of all GOP delegates were awarded on a winner-take-all basis. Between tonight and the final primaries in June, 64 percent of GOP delegates will be allocated on a winner-take-all basis. That’s an enormous catalyst for Trump’s drive to 1,237.

Harry Enten 12:18 AM

The Missouri Democratic primary is something to behold. Sanders’s margin over Clinton in the state is down to less than a percentage point, and plenty of the remaining vote is in St. Louis, where Clinton is leading by 10 percentage points.

Carl Bialik 12:06 AM

No one is totally sure why this works, but we have yet more evidence from tonight’s returns that Google searches for candidates in states that are voting are decent indicators of how those states will vote. They showed Kasich’s relative strength in Ohio, Cruz’s in Missouri and Rubio’s in Florida (relative to his performance in other states, not to Trump’s in Florida). This is still a very new area of study, and it remains to be seen how best to convert Google search numbers into vote shares, where it works and where it doesn’t, why it isn’t as useful on the Democratic side, and — the big question! — why searches are predictive of votes.

Farai Chideya 11:56 PM

David and Carl, I think the #NeverTrump forces are also too disorganized at this late stage of the primary game. There was a lack of will to coalesce around Rubio back when he seemed like the golden ticket to Trump Neverland. Cruz has made many enemies among establishment Republicans, with Lindsey Graham going on a massive rant about what it would take for him to hold his nose and vote for the Texan. Kasich won Ohio tonight, but PBS reports that he would need to win 91 percent of the remaining delegates to win the nomination outright. I’ve been to many conventions, including the 2000 Democratic convention in Los Angeles, where police and demonstrators clashed violently, and a reporter friend of mine got accidentally clipped by an officer on horseback. If 2016 goes to a contested convention, I’m buying used riot gear.

micahscohen 11:48 PM

So far, Trump has won 37.1 percent of the votes throughout Republican primaries and caucuses. That percentage is up tonight after Trump had strong results in Florida and other states. And it could climb further in subsequent states, especially with only three candidates remaining in the race. But the percentage is still on the low end by the standards of previous nominees. Since primaries became widespread in 1972, only George McGovern won his party’s nomination with a smaller share of the vote — just 25.3 percent, with McGovern winning by taking advantage of delegate rules that he had helped to write.

Reagan* 1984 Republicans 98.8%
Bush* 2004 Republicans 98.1
Clinton* 1996 Democrats 89.0
Obama* 2012 Democrats 88.9
Nixon* 1972 Republicans 86.9
Gore 2000 Democrats 75.4
Bush* 1992 Republicans 72.8
Bush 1988 Republicans 67.9
Bush 2000 Republicans 62.0
Kerry 2004 Democrats 60.1
Reagan 1980 Republicans 59.8
Dole 1996 Republicans 58.8
Clinton 2016 Democrats 57.8
Ford* 1976 Republicans 53.3
Romney 2012 Republicans 52.1
Clinton 1992 Democrats 52.0
Carter* 1980 Democrats 51.1
Obama 2008 Democrats 47.3
McCain 2008 Republicans 47.3
Dukakis 1988 Democrats 42.4
Carter 1976 Democrats 40.2
Mondale 1984 Democrats 38.3
Trump 2016 Republicans 37.1
McGovern 1972 Democrats 25.3
Which nominees produced consensus?

Asterisks indicate incumbents

Source: The Green Papers, Wikipedia

fstone538 11:45 PM

Guess what? The last time a single state had two primaries where candidates were within 1 percent on the same night was probably … MISSOURI! In 2008, when Obama and John McCain won by less than two points.

We don’t know that tonight’s races will be that close, but they’ll certainly be tight.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post gave an incorrect winner for the 2008 Democratic primary in Missouri. It was Obama, not Clinton.

Carl Bialik 11:44 PM

How unusual is it for a single state like Missouri to have two such close primaries in one night?

Julia Azari 11:44 PM Women And Running For Office

On a night when Hillary Clinton is likely to win four-of-five contests and extend her delegate lead over Bernie Sanders, pundits told Clinton to smile and criticized her for shouting.

Unfortunately, this reflects all too well a bunch of discouraging findings about women and the pursuit of political office. A study of newspaper coverage in 1998 found that readers were “more likely to read about female candidates’ personal qualities,” while news coverage was more likely to emphasize male candidates’ policy positions.

Recent scholarship has also focused on the supply of women candidates who enter politics in the first place. Richard Fox and Jennifer Lawless found that among a pool of qualified candidates, women were substantially less likely to consider or run for office and link this to how women are socialized. An even more arresting finding came from Kristin Kanthak and Jonathan Woon last year. In an experimental study, they found that women were specifically averse to competing in elections, even when they would volunteer to represent their groups in a random-selection process. When we see how women candidates are treated, it’s not hard to imagine why women might think twice about running for office.

Carl Bialik 11:36 PM

David, if you’re right and Trump is on a clear path to 1,237 delegates and the nomination, the people cited in this Slate article will see their stock rise. They said a Trump nomination was realistic, even probable, when others were dismissing it. Although how definitively they stated the case for Trump; whether they got lucky or were prescient; and whether they’ll even prove to be right is hard to say.

Harry Enten 11:30 PM

Unless Cruz can pull a rabbit out of his hat, Trump’s going to win Missouri, based on the map. Most of Boone County (a Cruz stronghold) has reported, and Trump still leads by about 3,000 votes. We’ll see, though, as this election cycle has been crazy.

Twitter 11:25 PM

micahscohen 11:20 PM

Here’s my gut takeaway from tonight’s primaries: It’s more difficult to see how Trump DOESN’T get to 1,237 delegates from here. He’s beating Cruz in red states, and he’s likely to beat Kasich in future blue states. Most of the delegates at stake from here on out will come from winner-take-all states. Whether #NeverTrump forces realize it or not, they are losing.

Harry Enten 11:18 PM

Right now, Trump is holding on to a 0.4 percentage point lead in Missouri. My guess is that the lead will probably hold, though it will be close. The question is whether Cruz can combine a big win on the remaining votes in Boone County (Columbia) with improving his showing in Jackson County (Kansas City) and St. Louis County.

Nate Silver 11:14 PM

The 66 delegates Kasich won in Ohio tonight are a big prize, but Kasich’s continued presence in the race has more ambiguous effects for Republicans hoping to stop Trump.

According to the estimates we developed last week, Cruz would be leading Trump in Missouri by about 4 percentage points in a two-way race. Cruz would also be leading by about 2 percentage points in North Carolina and trailing Trump by about 2 percentage points in Illinois.

Carl Bialik 11:14 PM

Looks like the incumbent prosecutors in both Chicago and Cleveland will lose — Chicago’s prosecutor in a blowout and Cleveland’s in a closer race. Both were criticized for not aggressively pursuing cases against police officers who killed people.

David Wasserman 11:12 PM Mathematically, Trump Is On Pace To Erase His Ohio Loss

Guess what? Trump could make up for all 66 delegates he lost in Ohio with huge delegate margins in Illinois and Missouri. In Missouri, Trump is clinging to a lead of just 2,400 votes, but IF things continue as they are, Trump will capture 47 of Missouri’s delegates to just five for Cruz. And in Illinois, where Trump is winning about 40 percent of the vote, he could win all but a handful of congressional districts, giving him perhaps 60 of the state’s 69 delegates. Wow.

blytheterrell 11:08 PM
100401ANNE_LIAnne Li

In his speech, Cruz pledged never to compromise on Americans’ “religious liberty.” What exactly does that mean? Republicans have increasingly been using “religious liberty” to refer to opposition to abortion rights and the ability of small-business owners to refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings. In fact, the number of mentions of “gay marriage” and its variants during GOP debates has decreased since the 2008 primary season, while mentions of “religious liberty” have jumped from zero in the 2008 primary season to 29 so far in the current election season.

Harry Enten 11:07 PM

I’m not sure we’re going to see a tighter Republican primary all season than Missouri’s. All the vote counts I’m looking at right now have Trump and Cruz within 0.5 percentage points of each other, but Trump is winning.

Julia Azari 11:06 PM Illinois vs. Missouri

Illinois and Missouri share a substantial border. Both are Midwestern states and have a mix of urban and rural areas. But politically, they are quite distinct. Missouri looks much more like the mix of a Western and Southern state that it is. In terms of presidential and Senate elections, Illinois looks more like the upper Midwest — or the other states with major cities that dominate their major elections. Illinois has voted for the Democratic candidate in every presidential election since 1992, and Missouri has gone for the Republican since 2000. But a substantial portion of Illinois is rural, Republican and pretty far south.

The election is now too close to call in Missouri, with Cruz having just taken the lead. Illinois has been called for Trump. This fits perfectly with the geographic pattern that has emerged over the past few weeks (and that I noted earlier this evening): Trump has done well in the Northeast and in the South — Illinois is kind of a weird mush of both, and if you look at this map, his areas of strength were around Chicago and the parts closer to Indiana and Kentucky. Missouri, on the other hand, may look more like the Western states that have gone so far, leaning instead toward Cruz. (Although one caveat here — the parts of Illinois that border Missouri also appear to have gone to Trump.) With the South and the interior West (plains and mountains, minus the Pacific Coast) making up the core of the Republican coalition, a possible geographic split is as significant as any other divisions we might observe.

Micah Cohen 11:06 PM The Discontented

There’s a lot of angst out there, particularly among Republican voters, and it’s showing up in exit polls. Perhaps not surprisingly, Trump is doing well with the more discontented voters:

Are falling behind financially 58% 46% 50% 49% 51% 51%
Are very worried about economy 45 46 45 42 44
Believe trade takes jobs 50 47 44 47
Are angry at federal government 59 53 49 53 51 54
Favor of an outsider 75 69 66 65 67 69
Favor deporting undocumented immigrants 63 58 53 53 57 58
Support banning Muslims 59 49 49 50 49 52
Trump’s support among …

Source: exit polls via ABC NEWS

blytheterrell 10:59 PM

We’ve mentioned 1,237 a half-dozen times already in this live blog. That’s the number of delegates a Republican candidate would need to clinch the nomination. Online search interest in the term is on the rise, according to Google Trends. As fans of crucial presidential election numbers, we’re happy to see the rise in awareness of 1,237 while remaining confident that the number of electoral votes (a number very important to us) will overtake it in public awareness come summer.

Farai Chideya 10:59 PM

Cruz, speaking while the race in Missouri is too close to call, is making a conservative platform speech heavy on details. In the weeks ahead, one question is, with Rubio out of the race, will Cruz be able to break through not only with voters, but also with volume of press coverage, which arguably has been a huge factor in this election. For example, earlier tonight Trump complained about the barrage of negative advertising that came out before this primary … not that it seems to have had much effect. But it’s also worth noting that although Trump has spent $10 million on advertising, he’s received the equivalent of $1.9 billion in free media, according to The Upshot’s analysis of mediaQuant and SMG Delta data.

Nate Silver 10:56 PM

It’s not surprising to see Cruz going out of his way to praise Rubio; picking up those voters will be key to any chance Cruz has at the nomination. And Cruz has some good news on that front; exit polls in Michigan and other states have shown Rubio voters preferring Cruz by 4 to 1 over Trump. The complication is that those exit polls didn’t ask about a three-way race among Cruz, Trump and Kasich. Although Cruz is probably a better match for Rubio voters ideologically, Kasich’s voters have more in common with Rubio’s demographically.

David Wasserman 10:54 PM

Bottom line: This is a great night for both front-runners, Trump and Clinton, with Cruz and Sanders left clinging to hope for a win in Missouri. A Sanders victory in the Show-Me State would be more of a symbolic, morale-boosting victory, but not meaningful in terms of the math. A Cruz victory in Missouri would be much more meaningful: He’d grab 12 statewide delegates from Trump and maintain some momentum heading into the crucial primaries to come.

Nate Silver 10:46 PM

As a native Midwesterner, I’m a fan of the Show-Me State, but Missouri is a fairly annoying state to be coming down to the wire. It’s quite slow to count its vote. Furthermore, there can be huge differences in the vote among St. Louis, Kansas City, the suburbs, and the rural parts of the state, making it hard to make extrapolations. Partly as a result of this, the Associated Press prematurely called Missouri for Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary; it eventually went for Obama after further votes from St. Louis were tallied after midnight.


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