The March 22 presidential primaries in Arizona brought big wins for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Trump was the runaway winner in Arizona taking 48% of the vote and all 58 delegates vs. Texas Senator Cruz who came in second with 24.8% of the vote and Ohio Governor John Kasich who came in third with 10%. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also had a big night in The Grand Canyon State winning 57.8% of the vote and 41 delegates vs. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who took 39.8% of the vote and 22 delegates.
Cruz was victorious in the Utah Caucus winning 69.2% of the vote which got him over the 50% threshold which was necessary to walk away with all 40 delegates. Kasich took second place with 16.9% of the vote, and Trump came in third with 14%. Cruz’s strong performance in Utah can in part be attributed to the strong influence which 2012 GOP Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney has in the Beehive State. Apparently the Romney machine was running full throttle with the “vote for Cruz, not Trump” message in the buildup to the caucus. In addition, Cruz generally performs better in caucuses than Trump does.
Bernie Sanders also demonstrated his staying power by winning in Utah and Idaho by a landslide. In Utah, Sanders garnered 79.7% of the vote and 24 delegates vs. Clinton who took 19.8% of the vote and 5 delegates. In Idaho, Sanders had a comparable victory securing 78% of the vote and 17 delegates vs. Clinton who took 21.2% of the vote and 5 delegates.
As of this writing, Donald Trump with 739 delegates still has a clear path to achieving the 1237 delegates needed to secure the nomination. Yet due to the very strong “anyone but Trump” momentum, the rumblings of a brokered convention continue to increase. Cruz with 465 delegates has only a slight mathematical possibility of securing the nomination outside of the Convention. However, Jeb Bush just endorsed Cruz. This endorsement will divert some Bush supporters towards Cruz and establish additional voter strongholds as the campaign moves forward.
Interestingly enough, a recently released Monmouth University Poll of Republican voters revealed that 54% of voters surveyed thought that the party should unify behind Trump if he remains the front-runner at the time of the July Republican National Convention. 34% of voters surveyed are in a favor of a contested convention which would select someone else other than Trump as the nominee. Of the voters, who are against Trump’s candidacy, 55% want to elect someone other than Trump, but 31% of this group maintain that the Republican Party should still support Trump if he comes in with the highest delegate count.
As for Kasich, with only 143 delegates and one win from his home state of Ohio, he has absolutely no possibility of securing the nomination. Most pundits assume that he is remaining in the race for symbolic reasons or to audition for a vice president spot. One would think that the Republican establishment would be pressuring Kasich to get out of the race so that the party can coalesce around Cruz. However, there is a theory that not all of Kasich’s support would go to Cruz. In other words, a vote for Kasich is a vote against Donald Trump. It will be interesting to see when the pressure will be put on Kasich to drop out.
As for the Democrats, as of this writing, Hillary Clinton with 1687 delegates is within striking distance of achieving the 2,383 delegates needed for the nomination and for all intents and purposes is the presumptive nominee. Of course, there is always the wild card possibility that Mrs. Clinton’s campaign could be derailed by “Email Gate”, but this scenario is appearing increasingly less likely as the campaign evolves.
While Sanders has some wind in his sails from his recent wins, at 937 delegates he has a long way to go. However, Sanders is adamant that he will make it to the July Democratic convention and beyond. While Sanders’ staying in the race can probably be attributed to his personal desire to make a legacy for himself, ultimately the Democratic establishment will exert pressure on Sanders to step down. This is not likely to happen until after the Democratic Convention as Sanders and his campaign strategists will make the argument that the delegates are distributed proportionately until the convention.
It all comes down to an “inconvenient truth”. While there may be five candidates still formally in the 2016 presidential race, the people have only given legitimacy to two of them through their votes, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. We need to wake up and smell the coffee.