Election 2020

It's Super Saturday, and The Verdict Is In: Cruz Surprised

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Check back for updates as results come in throughout the evening.

12:00 A.M.

It’s official — Donald Trump has said that it’s “probably time” for Marco Rubio to drop out of the race. Rubio — not Kasich! But don’t be fooled, just because Rubio had a bad night does not mean he isn’t still a viable contender. This race is still undecided.

And Cruz had a great week.

The final numbers from three states are in, as well. Here they are:

Kentucky: Trump (35.9 percent) — 16 delegates. Cruz (31.6 percent) — 14 delegates. Rubio (16.4 percent) — 7 delegates. Kasich (14.4 percent) — 6 delegates. (3 delegates remaining)

Kansas: Cruz (48.2 percent) — 24 delegates. Trump (23.3 percent) — 9 delegates. Rubio (16.7 percent) — 6 delegates. Kasich (10.7 percent) — 1 delegate.

Maine: Cruz (45.9 percent) — 12 delegates. Trump (32.6 percent) — 9 delegates. Kasich (12.2 percent) — 2 delegates. Rubio (8.0 percent) — 0 delegates.

Louisiana is at 99 percent reporting: Trump (41.5 percent) — 15 delegates. Cruz (37.8 percent) — 14 delegates. Rubio (11.2 percent). Kasich (6.4 percent). (17 delegates remaining)

At the end of the night, Cruz has gained 64 delegates, Trump 49, Rubio 13, and Kasich 9. This brings Cruz to 295 delegates, behind Trump’s 378. Of the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination, Trump now has 30.5 percent, Cruz has 23.8 percent, Rubio has 9.9 percent, and Kasich has 2.7 percent. It’s still early, but this is really starting to look like a two-person race between Trump and Cruz.

11:00 P.M.

Kentucky has now been called for Donald Trump. With 73 percent reporting:

Trump (35.3 percent) — 13 delegates. Cruz (31.3 percent) — 13 delegates. Rubio (16.8 percent) — 6 delegates. Kasich (14.8 percent) — 5 delegates.

Cruz won two states (Kansas and Maine), and Trump won two states (Louisiana and Kentucky). But more importantly, Cruz’s large margin of victory in both Kansas and Maine translates to a larger delegate win for the Texas senator. Trump’s close wins in Louisiana and Kentucky mean Cruz won almost as many delegates in those states as he did! (The delegate counts herein presented are a baseline — not all delegates from these states have yet been awarded.)

Overall, Cruz won 60 delegates tonight, to Trump’s 44 delegates, Rubio’s 12, and Kasich’s 8.

This is very bad news for Trump. Here’s FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver on what this spread could mean:

4 wins — great night for Trump;
3 wins — status quo, in line with expectations;
2 wins — shows vulnerability, although Trump is still the frontrunner;
1 win — Trump may have major problems, although keep in mind these are small, quirky states;
0 wins — no more excuses; this means he somehow lost Louisiana — catastrophe.
Obviously the margins matter too, however. If Trump loses Kansas and Maine big but only narrowly wins Kentucky and Louisiana, that might be closer to the “1 win” than the “2 win” interpretation.

Tonight’s results demonstrate that an anti-Trump coalition is possible and could actually stop The Donald from becoming the nominee. They also seem to point toward Ted Cruz as the ultimate challenger for Trump. There may still be some time for Rubio and Kasich, but each of them desperately needs a win to justify the idea that they could also defeat Trump.

10:30 P.M.

A quick look at Louisiana. Trump was long projected to win the state, but his margin has decreased. With 63 percent reporting:

Trump (42.1 percent) — winner. Cruz (37.2 percent). Rubio (11.5 percent). Kasich (5.9 percent).

Here’s FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver:

The very earliest returns in Louisiana, which were substantially composed of votes cast before election day, showed Trump at 48 percent, Cruz at 23 percent, and Rubio at 20 percent. Now? It’s Trump 43, Cruz 34 and Rubio 14, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State. The differences suggest a major gap between early votes and election-day returns, with Cruz surging in the past couple of days at the expense of both Trump and Rubio.

If these results are accurate, that Cruz rise is even more pronounced, as are the falls of Trump and Rubio. Trump still wins, but Cruz is rising, and this looks more and more like a two-person race.

9:35 P.M.

On the Republican side, Louisiana has been called for Trump, and Maine has been called for Cruz. For the Democrats, Louisiana has been called for Clinton, while Kansas and Nebraska have been called for Sanders.

Maine — 100 percent reporting:

Cruz (45.9 percent) — 12 delegates. Trump (32.6 percent) — 9 delegates. Kasich (12.2 percent) — 2 delegates. Rubio (8.0 percent) — ZERO delegates.

Louisiana results (reporting percentage unclear):

Trump (47.7 percent) — declared the winner. Cruz (23.4 percent). Rubio (19.5 percent). Kasich (3.1 percent).

The biggest surprise of the night is Rubio’s poor performance: first in Kansas, but much more striking in Maine. Besides South Carolina (where no candidate besides Trump picked up any delegates), and Vermont (where there were only 12 delegates, and so only Trump and Kasich won any), this is the first state where Rubio did not win a single delegate. Maine is also the first state where Marco Rubio has gotten less than 10 percent of the vote. 

9:00 P.M.

The Maine Republican Party is calling the race for Ted Cruz. But the Associated Press has not done so.

An interesting tid-bit: At this point in the 2012 presidential race, Mitt Romney had 392 delegates and his runner-up, Rick Santorum, only had 179. After Super Tuesday and before today, Trump had 316 delegates, and Cruz had 226. While there are some differences — Florida went early then, and Romney took all 50 delegates — that muddy the waters, Trump is still a much less powerful front-runner than Romney was.

Given the early results in Kansas, which strongly favored Cruz, I projected he would take the race’s first majority. As it turns out, he came close, but did not win over 50 percent of the vote there. No candidate has gotten 50 percent or more in the GOP race so far, although Trump came very close with Massachusetts at 49 percent.

FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver says this is likely a record:

We’ve got too much going on tonight to confirm whether this is a record of some sort, but it looks as though it might be. In the contentious 1972 Democratic primary, for example, Ed Muskie got 62 percent of the vote in Illinois, the fourth state to vote. In the 2012 Republican race, Mitt Romney got (just barely) over 50 percent in Nevada, the fifth state to vote.

Note, however, that Trump could plausibly get to 50 percent in Louisiana, where polls close in a few minutes. He was as high as 48 percent in one poll of the state.

8:35 P.M.

So, the final GOP results are in from Kansas, and we have updated numbers from Kentucky and Maine. Cruz won handily in Kansas and has a lead in Maine, of all places. Trump leads in Kentucky. Rubio is having a horrible night.

Kansas — 100 percent reporting:

Cruz (48.2 percent) — 26 delegates. Trump (23.3 percent) — 9 delegates. Rubio (16.7 percent) — 6 delegates. Kasich (10.7 percent) — 1 delegate.

Kentucky — 25 percent reporting:

Trump (41.4 percent). Cruz (31.0 percent). Rubio (13.1 percent). Kasich (12.7 percent).

Maine — Results from Decision Desk HQ, may not be entirely accurate — 45.5 percent reporting:

Cruz (42.3 percent) — declared the winner. Trump (33.9 percent). Kasich (14.4 percent). Rubio (8.4 percent).

6:00 P.M.

Kansas has been called for Ted Cruz. The bigger story is the margin by which Cruz took the state. With 66 percent reporting, Cruz took 51.2 percent — and at least 17 of Kansas’ 40 delegates. Behind him came Trump (24.1 percent), Rubio (14.4 percent), and Kasich (8.9 percent).

Cruz also won the CPAC straw poll with 40 percent of the vote. Then it was Rubio (30 percent), Trump (15 percent), and then Kasich (8 percent). Rubio won the second choice spot, with 29 percent, followed by Cruz (26 percent), Kasich (18 percent), and Trump (9 percent).

For vice president, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and John Kasich tied for first with 12 percent, while Carly Fiorina came in second with 11 percent. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio got 9 percent each, followed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at 8 percent, and former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice with 6 percent.

5:30 P.M.

It has been a huge week in politics, and it’s not over yet. On Tuesday, Donald Trump won seven states, Ted Cruz won three, and Marco Rubio one. Then on Thursday, Mitt Romney, the former Republican presidential nominee, unleashed a scathing attack on Trump. Ben Carson dropped out of Friday. Cruz wiped the floor with The Donald in Thursday’s debate, and Rubio hit Trump hard on his choice to skip out on the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Many have called Trump the inevitable Republican nominee, and he leads the delegate count with 329 delegates to Cruz’s 231 and Rubio’s 110. John Kasich trails with 25 delegates. While Trump leads, he is only 26.6 percent of the way to the 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination. Cruz, by comparison, has 18.7 percent of the delegates he needs. If Romney’s, Cruz’s, and Rubio’s attacks start to halt The Donald’s momentum, he may not be inevitable.

Today’s results will be the first sign of whether these attacks hurt Trump or — as some have argued with Romney’s attack — actually help The Donald keep his lead. Four states have Republican primaries on Super Saturday: Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, and Louisiana. These primaries are closed, open to registered Republicans only. In states with closed primaries, Trump has under-performed, while Cruz has over-performed. This may not predict a weak showing for Trump today, but it is plausible.

Trump skipped out on CPAC to go campaign in Kansas — or, as his press release said, Wichita, Kanasas — where Cruz is leading handily. With 12 percent reporting, Cruz takes an impressive first place at 50.3 percent, with Trump second at 24.6 percent, and Rubio third at 13.7 percent. Kasich has 9.9 percent. Cruz seems to have gained a great deal from Carson’s drop out.

As Clinton leads Sanders in both elected delegates and super-delegates, the Democratic race is much less competitive. She already has 44.7 percent of the delegates she needs to win, while Sanders only has 18 percent.

Polls close throughout the day today. The Kansas caucus ended at 3 p.m. Eastern time, while the last Kentucky polls close at 5 p.m., Maine’s polls close at 7 p.m., and Louisiana voting ends at 9 p.m. Democrats vote in Kansas (4 p.m.), Louisiana (9 p.m.), and Nebraska (also 9 p.m.). This post will be updated as results come in.