Election 2016

Tuesday Primaries: Sanders Slightly Cuts Clinton's Delegate Lead, While Trump Stays Ahead

Sanders campaign says their turnaround has begun.

Photo Credit: http://berniepost.com

Editor’s note: This articles reflects the final vote totals from Tuesday, which were not available when this report was first published.

Bernie Sanders’ path to the Democratic Party nomination held steady but remained steep on Tuesday, while Donald Trump’s path to the GOP nomination got easier—after presidential primaries in Arizona and party caucuses in Utah and Idaho.

The most delegate-rich contests were in Arizona, where on the Democratic side Hillary Clinton won with 58 percent, compared to 40 percent for Sanders. The state Democratic Party awards 74 delegates proportionally, meaning while Clinton’s victory yielded her 44 delegates compared to 30 for Sanders, it deprived him of winning a populous and diverse western state. However, in Tuesday’s two other Democratic contests, Sanders won big majorities, earning him 26 delegates in Utah compared to 6 for Clinton, and 17 delegates from Idaho compared to 5 for Clinton.

Overall, Sanders won 18 more pledged delegates than Clinton on Tuesday, leaving him with 920 compared to 1,223 for Clinton. That total does not could the party’s so-called super-delegates, federal and state elected officials and party leaders, where 467 have pledged to support Clinton, compared to 26 for Sanders.

On the Republican side, Trump also won Arizona on Tuesday, with 47 percent of the vote, netting him 58 delegates in the GOP’s winner-take-all contest. In Utah, Ted Cruz, as expected, beat Trump, with 69 percent to Trump’ 14 percent, which netted him all of its 40 Republican delegates. John Kasich got 17 percent of the vote, beating Trump but gaining no delegates. Had Cruz gotten under 50 percent, Utah’s GOP delegates would have been divided proportionately. Not only was Utah’s Mormon population deeply unimpressed with Trump, but the GOP’s 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney, and other Utah Republicans urged their base to support Cruz.

It was hard to gauge the impact of Tuesday’s ISIS terrorist attack in Belgium on voting and caucuses. There were no media exit polls in the three states. In Arizona, more than a third of the state’s 700,000 registered Republicans had voted early—where their support of Trump was more likely tied to his uncompromising stands on immigration and the endorsement of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpiao, who is notoriously tough on law-and-order stances. In fact, Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the race last week after losing in Florida, received 17 percent of the Arizona GOP vote—showing how many voters participated in early voting.

The remaining Republican candidates—Trump, Cruz and John Kasich—all made strong statements Tuesday about the ISIS attack, vying to take the most aggressive posture. The most offensive statements arguably came from Cruz, who called on law enforcement to “patrol and secure” Muslim neighborhoods across America. Trump revived his call to shut America’s borders to Muslims, a day after shocking the Washington Post editorial board with uninformed answers in a hour sit-down, prompting them to editorialize on Tuesday that electing him would be a “radical risk.” 

On the Democratic side, both Clinton and Sanders gave speeches on Tuesday night. In Seattle, Clinton said, “I do believe I am the most ready of everybody running” to step into the Oval Office.” She gave her standard stump speech, saying the top criteria for the job were who would make the most positive difference for people, keep Americans safe and bring Americans together. She also criticized Trump’s and Cruz’s comments about the ISIL attack, saying their policies would make America far less safe, and said she would create millions of jobs by promoting alternative energy and addressing climate change.

Sanders, campaigning in southern California, pledged to stay in the race and urged his supporters to vote in the state’s June primary. “We have a path to victory,” campaign manager Jeff Weaver told CNN, dismissing the Arizona results and urging people to wait until they see what happens in Utah and Idaho. “It’s not an easy path, but it’s been that way from the beginning.”

Still, for Sanders to emerge as the nominee, he has to win a majority of the remaining states and win by some very big margins. Many of those states have populations that are much closer to the diversity in Arizona than the white-dominated states of Utah and Idaho. On Saturday, Alaska, Hawaii and Washington hold Democratic caucuses. 

 

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America's democracy and voting rights. He is the author of several books on elections and the co-author of Who Controls Our Schools: How Billionaire-Sponsored Privatization Is Destroying Democracy and the Charter School Industry (AlterNet eBook, 2016).

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