As expected, Trump won easily in Michigan and Mississippi. Trump threatened to get 50% in the primary down south, but didn’t quite get there. With 92% reporting, Trump had 48% of the vote to Cruz’s 36%. In Michigan, he was ahead of Kasich 37-24% with 73% reporting. Cruz posted a very respectable second-place result in Mississippi, and was slightly ahead of Kasich at the time of this writing. Cruz clearly has the best claim to be Trump’s top rival, and proved it again tonight.
Rubio missed the thresholds to acquire delegates in both states as I thought he might, and received very little support in either place: 9% in Michigan and 5% in Mississippi. If he doesn’t drop out this week, it is only because he has so often claimed that he could win Florida that it would be doubly humiliating to give up before the election. Kasich did all right in Michigan, but still lost by double digits in a state where he had hoped to be much more competitive. Now that Rubio is collapsing, Kasich becomes the last hope of the “establishment” next week, and he may be able to go from a decent showing in Michigan to a victory in Ohio. It would be better for Kasich if Rubio quit immediately. It’s funny to think that just a few weeks ago it was Rubio’s camp that was demanding this very thing of Kasich. Just week before the Florida and Ohio primaries, it is clear that Kasich’s campaign is still alive and Rubio’s is finished.
On the Democratic side, Sanders was threatening to pull off very surprising upset in Michigan as of 10:00 p.m. Central. With 92% reporting, Sanders held on to a slim 49-48% lead. While a Sanders win there wouldn’t help him in the pledged delegate count since both candidates would receive the same number, it would still be a significant and unexpected defeat for Clinton, who was favored to win in the polls by more than twenty points. Even if Clinton edges him out in the end, it marks a very strong showing by Sanders’ campaign that gives his challenge to the front-runner a much-needed boost.
P.S. I’ll follow up with Idaho and Hawaii results as and when they are available.
Update: Cruz has been declared the winner in Idaho. With 41% reporting, he had 41% to Trump’s 29%. As of 11:00 Central, Rubio was still below the threshold for delegates with 18%. That leaves Rubio with no delegates from three of the four contests tonight.
Second Update: There were hints that he might do well, and Trump has won the Hawaii caucuses with 42%. Cruz came in second with 32%. Rubio finished third with 13% and Kasich fourth with a little over 10%.