Ted Cruz defeated Trump in Kansas and Maine by overwhelmingly large numbers. In fact, Cruz just barely missed picking up all of the delegates in Maine by winning 46% of the vote (50% needed to be awarded all delegates). In Kentucky and Louisiana, it was a close contest, but Cruz ultimately lost those two states by only a few percentage points. The good news is Cruz outdid his polling numbers and continues his trend of doing well in closed primaries.
From Five Thirty Eight:
We’ll have more analysis of tonight’s results in the days ahead, but here’s how I’d score the evening relative to expectations on the GOP side. I mean that in a more precise way than when the term “expectations” is usually invoked. Specifically, I mean that if you’d drawn up a list of plausible outcomes this morning and ranked them from best (10) to worst (0) for each candidate, how would candidates fare by that measure?
Ted Cruz — 9 out of 10. Huge win in Kansas, unexpected win in Maine, and unexpectedly close to Trump in Louisiana, with results suggesting he might even have won if not for early votes. Cruz’s loss in Kentucky was also narrow — he came much closer to Trump, for example, than he did in Tennessee on Super Tuesday. Not quite a “best case scenario” but not more than one step removed from it.
Donald Trump — 2 out of 10. You could equivocate by saying Trump performs poorly in caucuses, and there aren’t all that many of them left, but the huge split in the election day versus early vote in Louisiana suggests that he’s encountering serious problems, perhaps the most serious since voting started on Feb. 1. It also appears as though Cruz will pick up more delegates than Trump did from the night.
Marco Rubio — 1 out of 10. Just 17 percent of the vote in Kansas, 17 percent in Kentucky, 11 percent in Louisiana (with a huge drop-off from the early vote to election day votes) and 9 percent in Maine. Not. Good. He’ll presumably hang on until Florida on March 15 and a win there would still be a big deal, but he needs to gain votes to do that and right now he’s losing them instead.
Ted Cruz’s strong debate performance has helped him and it looks like the vote is coalescing around Ted Cruz.
From The Right Scoop:
Steve Kornacki’s analysis of the Louisiana vote tonight concludes that there is evidence the vote is coalescing around Ted Cruz.
He explains it pretty well:
Basically, Trump had such a huge advantage in early voting that the later voting today means Cruz had a huge swing towards his campaign – not enough to vote, but to make it close. And that means that the vote generally is tending his way, away from Rubio. And that’s a big deal, if true.