By Jim Ellis
March 24, 2016 — To no one’s surprise, especially with the Brussels attack sparking even more emotionalism within Donald Trump’s core political base, the Republican leader easily swept the Arizona primary Tuesday. As we know, Trump notched a 47-25-10 percent popular vote victory margin over Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich, respectively. With this performance, the New York real estate mogul claimed the last major Winner-Take-All primary and all 58 Arizona delegates.
For the Democrats, also as expected, Hillary Clinton easily defeated Sen. Bernie Sanders. The result means the former Secretary of State could conceivably secure approximately 60 Democratic delegates from the Arizona pool of 85 once the final count is apportioned and more Super Delegates announce their intentions. The Grand Canyon State will add to her gaudy national delegate total, putting her within sight of 1,700 committed and announced votes. She needs 2,383 delegate votes to clinch the party’s presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia later this summer.
For Trump, the Arizona victory puts him in the 750 bounded delegate vote range. The eventual Republican nominee needs 1,237 votes to claim the national party mantle.
Again, turnout favored the Republicans. It appears that voting will likely top the 2008 Arizona GOP primary turnout that featured favorite son Sen. John McCain. When all votes are finally recorded, Republican primary turnout will likely top the 541,035 figure reached eight years ago. In the competitive 2012 Republican presidential race, the total voter figure fell to just under 459,000.
Democrats barely exceeded 400,000 ballots in last night’s voting, well under the 455,635 who voted in 2008 when Clinton scored an eight-point victory over then-Sen. Barack Obama.
Cruz scored a major Beehive State win, capturing almost 70 percent of the caucus vote in sweeping all 29 Utah counties. Because he attracted majority support, Sen. Cruz won a backdoor Winner-Take-All result and the state’s 40 Republican National Convention delegates.
The result is not as significant from the perspective of Cruz’s aggregate delegate count, but Trump being shutout -– in fact, he finished third behind Kasich -– makes it that much harder for the front-runner to obtain the 1,237 votes required for a first ballot victory. The win pushes Cruz to approximately 465 delegates, or about 290 behind Trump.
For the Democrats, Sanders scored a landslide victory, which may go as high as 80 percent when all of the caucus votes are finally tabulated and reported.
In yet another bit of irony for this most unique of presidential campaigns, both parties’ leading candidates -– and, this time, Clinton is truly the inevitable Democratic nominee -– scored under 20 percent support in a state nominating event. Though Utah is overwhelmingly Republican and should not be a general election battleground, the fact that Trump managed only 14 percent support among the party faithful would suggest that the state could be in play for November. That is, only until seeing Clinton register an equally paltry 19 percent against Sanders.
While Republicans hosted their party primary on March 8, Idaho Democrats caucused Tuesday night. In similar fashion as in Utah, Sanders destroyed Clinton with a 78 percent Gem State win.
Even though Sanders recorded his strongest performance of the campaign with these two overwhelming wins last night, he only managed to close the delegate gap by approximately 25 votes, and possibly even less when all of the Super Delegates decide. This is hardly a dent in Clinton’s 2:1 national advantage and does not dissuade what will be her easy first ballot convention floor victory.