Contests this weekend were all closed, meaning that only party members could vote, no independents. Also, four of the five states held caucuses, meaning voters have to spend more time than simply stopping in to vote. These types of contests tend to benefit the more extreme candidates - hard core conservatives for the Republicans and hard core liberals for the Democrats. As a result, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders had better than average success.
- The Louisiana Primary was the biggest prize yesterday (47 delegates), and the only primary of the day. Trump (41%) just barely beat Cruz (38%). As a result, Cruz won 15 delegates to Cruz's 14. Rubio (11%) and Kasich (6%) both failed to meet the 20% threshold and get nothing. Some of you math whiz's may have noticed that there are 47 delegates and only 29 awarded. Because of the odd State allocation rules, the remaining delegates go to the convention "unbound" meaning they can vote for whomever they like. So even though Rubio and Kasich won not delegates, their participation helped keep the top candidate percentages lower and denied them bound delegates.
- Kentucky Caucus (45 delegates): Trump (36% had another close win over Cruz (32%). As a result, Trump won 16 delegates to Cruz's 14. Rubio (16%) took 7 delegates and Kasich (14%) took 6 delegates). The 2 remaining delegates are unbound.
- Kansas Caucus (40 delegates): Cruz won a solid victory with 48%, as close to 50% as any Republican has gotten this year. This earned him 24 delegates. Trump with 23% walks away with 9 delegates. Because Kansas has a mere 10% threshold, Rubio (17%) picked up 6 delegates and Kasich 11%) picked up 1. Kansas binds its delegates until released. This means, that in the event no candidate wins on the first ballot, Kansas delegates must continue to vote for their candidate on subsequent ballots until the candidate releases them.
- Maine Caucus (23) delegates: Cruz was the big winner with 46% and 12 delegates. Trump took 33% and 9 delegates. Kasich (12%) squeaked over the 10% threshold to win 2 delegates, while Rubio (8%) threshold failure means he gets no delegates.
The big takeaway from yesterday's race is Cruz seems to be solidifying his status as the only viable alternative to Trump. Cruz's 64 delegates to Trump's 49 narrows Trump's lead a little. But Cruz has yet to show the same vote getting prowess in open primaries beyond his home State. He still has a major uphill fight. Rubio's star seems to be falling. While these were some tough States for him, his pathetic third and fourth place finishes were not even close to the top two. Voters who once thought he could be the anti-Trump seem to be giving up on him. Kasich remains at best a spoiler.
- Louisiana Primary (58 delegates) Clinton won the largest prize of the night overwhelmingly with 71% to Sanders 23%, netting her 35 delegates to Sanders' 10 (13 delegates remain unbound).
- Kansas Caucus (45 delegates) Sanders (68%) won nearly just as decisive a win in Kansas over Clinton (32%) giving him 23 delegates to Clinton's 10 (2 unbound).
- Nebraska Caucus (30 delegates) saw a slightly less robust victory for Sanders (56%) over Clinton (44%) giving Sanders 14 delegates to Clinton's 10 (2 unbound).
Clinton won the delegate count for the day, netting 55 delegates, while Sanders picked up 47. But the press will focus on Sanders winning two States to Clinton's one, questioning whether Sanders really is down and out.
Later today Puerto Rico will hold its Repubilican primary and Main will hold its Democratic Caucus. If Rubio does well in Puerto Rico, it can offset his "loser" label going into Michigan later this week. If Sanders can win in Maine, it will help his "comeback" narrative going into Michigan.
Michigan (Tuesday 3/8) may be Kasich's last stand. If Trump defeats him there as expected, Kasich may drop out before his home State of Ohio votes on March 15. Because Ohio is a winner take all state, Kasich may not want to divide the anti-Trump vote there. If he drops out and endorses another Candidate, it may change the math for the State, which currently is looking like a Trump victory. On the other hand, if Kasich can beat Trump in Michigan (as some polls now suggest) Ohio voters may be more confident in support him the following week. This could give Kasich a good block of votes for a divided convention. It may also allow him to supplant Rubio as the establishment favorite against Trump and Cruz. Even this optimistic scenario is a long shot for Kasich, but it may give his campaign a sliver of hope.