Another Tuesday and another night of nominating contests divided among the remaining candidates in the Republican and Democratic presidential race. On Tuesday evening, March 22, 2016, three contests were held on what was dubbed Western Tuesday, a primary in Arizona for both parties, caucuses in Utah for Democrats and Republicans and caucuses in Idaho for Democrats.
The major prize was Arizona with the largest delegate prize of the evening with GOP frontrunner Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton easily winning. Still Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Vermont Senator and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders stole the spotlight and the delegates from their opponents with significant victories, Cruz in Utah and Sanders in Utah and Idaho.
Voters lined up to vote and participate in the major western states contests in one of the most indecisive and divisive primaries in recent history. Lines were long in Arizona despite having early balloting. There were also delays in the Utah caucuses, with long lines, and Democratic Party’s website crashed. The Idaho Democratic caucuses also experienced delays because of long lines. The delays meant results for Utah and Idaho were not known until early Wednesday morning.
Trump had an easy victory in Arizona, with all the 58 delegates in the winner takes all Republican contest. Trump won with nearly 24 percent more of the vote over second place Cruz with Ohio Gov. John Kasich in third. After his victory Trump tweeted his appreciation, writing, “Thank you, Arizona!”
Trump’s win shows he is the one the beat much to the Republican establishment’s dismay. One of which includes 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney. Romney has started a war against Trump and considering the results in Utah seemed to win a round on home turf. Cruz won Utah trouncing Trump with nearly 70 percent of the vote leaving Trump in third. Cruz passed the 50 percent threshold allowing him to claim the state’s 40 delegates.
Romney mounted a huge campaign since the beginning of the month against Trump waging the latest battle in his home state of Utah. Romney announced he would vote for Cruz in the caucuses and urged his fellow Republican voters to follow his lead going as far to call voters to not even vote for Kasich because it would help Trump clinch the nomination. Romney even recorded a robocall for Cruz. The former GOP nominee still has a lot a sway in the state that has a high population of his Mormon co-religionists. Although not an endorsement, Cruz won with his largest margin of the primary season.
The night was also full surprises for the Democratic race as well. The evening started predictably with Clinton winning the Arizona primary and a majority of its 75 delegates. Clinton won with approximately 58 percent of the vote, with Sanders claiming nearly 40 percent of the vote. Clinton win gain 41 delegates while Sanders will grab 20 more. Arizona has a large Hispanic population, and Clinton has been winning hands down the minority vote.
Clinton seemed to turn her attention to the general election with the decisive win in Arizona, saying in a victory speech delivered in Seattle Washington, “I do believe I am the most ready of anybody running to take this job.” Clinton clearly took aim at Trump, who she thinks she will face in the general election, stating, “The last thing we need, my friends, are leaders who incite more fear.”
Clinton might have been premature in turning her attention from the primary and Sanders, who continual resurges proves he remains a formable threat to Clinton. Sanders washed Clinton out in Utah and Idaho, winning with over 75 percent of the vote in each caucus, with 78 percent in Utah. Sanders will be granted most of the Utah’s 33 delegates and Idaho’s 23 delegates.
Even after losing Arizona Sanders seemed confident he would be triumphant in Utah and Idaho. Speaking in San Diego, California earlier in the evening “When we began this campaign we were considered a fringe candidacy,” Sanders, his voice hoarse from months on the campaign trail. “Well, 10 months later we have now won 10 primaries and caucuses. Unless I am very much mistaken, we are going to win a couple more tonight.”
After his victories, Sanders issued a statement, saying, “I am enormously grateful to the people of Utah and Idaho for the tremendous voter turnouts that gave us victories with extremely large margins. These decisive victories in Idaho and Utah give me confidence that we will continue to win major victories in the coming contests.”
After the contests on Tuesday, on the Republican side, Trump will have 739 delegates, Cruz with 465, and Kasich standing still at 143. Trump would need to win 55 percent of all remaining delegates to clinch the nomination and the 1237 delegates required. Trump still can do it by the June 7 California primary, the last contest. Cruz has an impossible quest and would have to win 86 percent of the remaining delegates to clinch the nomination.
On the Democratic side, Clinton will have 1681 delegates, 467 that are superdelegates, while Sanders will have 927 with 26 superdelegates. Sander’s campaign believes it can still beat Clinton Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told CNN, “It’s not an easy path, but it’s never been an easy path.”