Today, Republicans will vote in Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Maine. (What’s up with these four states appearing consecutively on an alphabetical list?) Democrats in Kansas and Louisiana will also vote today, as will Democratic Nebraskans. Their Mainers hit the polls tomorrow. (Kentucky Democrats have to wait until May.) Let’s take a look.
It’s no Super Tuesday. Four days ago, the GOP had 595 pledged delegates from 11 states on the table. Today, there are 155 from four. But that doesn’t make them unimportant! We’re down to four candidates, thanks to Dr. Ben Carson’s overdue withdrawal, and all of them will take home delegates today. Every delegate counts in the battle between Trump and the world. Here are today’s contests in order of weight (Louisiana and Kentucky tie for the most):
Kentucky caucuses — 46 delegates
Rules: Proportional allocation for anyone who reaches five percent.
Poll: One poll, from February 22 to 26, had Trump 35, Rubio 22, Cruz 15, Carson 7, and Kasich 6.
Prediction: It looks like all remaining candidates, especially now with Carson out, can nab delegates. Super Tuesday did little to shake Trump’s number, so between that an antiestablishment Carson’s withdrawal, I think he gets into the high 30s/low 40s. Rubio has looked pretty bad of late while Cruz has emerged as the Trump’s closest competitor, so I think Cruz will make up the difference on Rubio. Meanwhile, Kasich’s even temperament is playing increasingly well against the backdrop of the pandemoniac circus that was Thursday’s debate and the broader 2016 GOP Primary. Moreover, Kentucky is on Ohio’s border, so they’ve probably seen more coverage of him over the years. Kasich will stay above five percent to earn delegates. Can he push ten?
Louisiana Primary — 46 delegates
Rules: 18 district delegates from the 6 Congressional districts, 3 each awarded proportionally to the district vote. The 28 state-wide delegates are awarded proportionally to all candidates who earn 20 percent or more of the vote.
Polls: Three polls were done this week, and they averaged out to Trump 41, Cruz 24.3, Rubio 13.7, Kasich 6.3, and Carson 5.5. Two trends include Cruz climbing and Rubio fading. Trump bounced around.
Prediction: Like on Super Tuesday, Rubio will be held under 20 percent, hurting him with today’s delegate haul. I think Cruz pops, but not enough to catch Trump. Rubio might scratch out a second place in a district, if he’s lucky, to get a delegate or two. Kasich won’t get any.
Kansas caucuses — 40 delegates
Rules: 12 district delegates from the 4 Congressional districts, 3 each awarded proportionally to the district vote. The 25 state-wide delegates are awarded proportionally to all candidates who earn 10 percent or more of the vote. In addition, all three RNC delegates (which some states have as unbound) go to the state-wide winner.
Polls: One poll done since Super Tuesday says Trump 35, Cruz 29, Rubio 19, and Kasich 13.
Prediction: I think Cruz pulls off the upset here. He’s won Texas, Oklahoma, and Iowa. Kansas is a missing link there. Plus, caucus states have favored him so far. Oklahoma was also a caucus state where Trump led in the polls, so I see Cruz stealing this one. Rubio will be a distant third, but at least he’ll clear 10 percent and grab some state-wides. Kasich will be right on the edge.
Maine caucuses — 23 delegates
Rules: If any candidate clears 50 percent, he gets all 23 delegates. Otherwise, delegates are proportionally allocated to all candidates who earn 10 percent or more of the vote.
Poll: Just a November 2013 poll. If it holds, I love Chris Christie in this one. Paul Ryan as a sleeper.
Prediction: Another caucus state, and Maine has a distinct antiestablishment streak. (Why else would someone live in Maine?) I see a result similar to Alaska. Cruz over Trump again. Rubio and Kasich will clear 10 percent to earn a few. We might be pretty bunched up here, unlike everything else in Maine.
Totals: Trump secures the most delegates on the day, mostly thanks to a big Louisiana victory, with Cruz on his tail. Rubio and Kasich deny valuable delegates to Trump as well. It’s not that their voters would be Trump voters, but that every time they clear delegate thresholds to win a few delegates, those are fewer delegates Trump can win. Every delegate counts!
Big picture: With Puerto Rico voting for its 23 delegates Sunday — which I can’t imagine is fertile Trump territory, especially with Rubio flying there to habla con los Puertorriqueños — Trump can be held under 50 percent of voters and delegates for the weekend, meaning he stays under 50 percent for the primary. Boy, this is going to be dramatic for a while!
Louisiana Primary — 51 delegates
Kansas caucuses — 33 delegates
Nebraska caucuses — 25 delegates
An enormous blowout for Hillary Clinton in Louisiana will ensure she carries the day despite two relatively close contests with Bernie Sanders in the Nebraska and Kansas caucuses.