Clinton wins by losing; Trump scores 3 big wins
Washington — Donald Trump is spoiling for the big fight ahead, especially in Florida, now that he’s fresh off victories in the industrial Midwest, the South and Hawaii. Hillary Clinton has pushed over the halfway mark in delegates needed for the Democratic presidential nomination, showing she can win even by losing.
A late-night cliffhanger in Michigan ended in Bernie Sanders’ favor, giving him bragging rights to a big race Clinton was expected to win. She progressed regardless, thanks to an earlier victory in Mississippi on Tuesday night and a close split of delegates shared with Sanders in Michigan.
Trump took Mississippi, Michigan and Hawaii while yielding to Cruz in Idaho.
Big ones ahead
Florida and Ohio are coming up next Tuesday, and they are crucial for Republicans.
The Republican contests will be winner-take-all for the first time. Trump is itching to take out Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, with whom he’s had a venomous feud, and a Florida victory would accomplish that. He’s bidding for Ohio, too, hoping to dispense with its governor, John Kasich, and turn the wild GOP contest into a head-to-head battle with Ted Cruz.
Trump looks strong in both states. Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina Republicans also vote.
Democrats vote next week in the same five states. In all 691 delegates will be at stake. The Democratic delegates will be allocated in proportion to the vote.
Ill trade winds
More than half of Democratic and Republican voters in Michigan, along with Republicans in Mississippi, said trade takes away jobs, according to surveys of voters after they cast ballots. In Mississippi, Democratic primary voters were more closely divided, with 4 in 10 saying it takes away jobs and nearly as many thinking it has a positive impact.
Exit polling also found Clinton in Mississippi was supported over Sanders by 9 in 10 black voters, who accounted for nearly two-thirds of Democratic primary voters in the state.
That was yet another stark example of Sanders struggling with black voters.
And Michigan, like previous races, pointed to an age divide for Democrats, with Clinton prevailing with people 45 and older and Sanders leading among those younger than 45.
Despite Sanders’ close Michigan win, he won’t see any real gains in delegates for the night.
With 130 Michigan delegates at stake, Sanders will win at least 63 and Clinton at least 52. His gains will be canceled out by Clinton’s earlier win in Mississippi. She already entered the night with a 196-delegate lead over Sanders based on primaries and caucuses alone.
Democrats award delegates in proportion to the vote, so Clinton was able to add a good chunk of delegates even after losing Michigan.
Including superdelegates, her lead becomes even bigger — at least 1,214 to Sanders’ 566. It takes 2,383 to win the nomination.
Since Super Tuesday, Sanders has now won four of the last six states contests.
Trump’s got a longer climb in the splintered GOP affair, but he helped himself in the races Tuesday night. He ran up his delegate total to at least 428, with Cruz having 315. Rubio has 151 delegates and Kasich has 52. A total of 150 Republican delegates were at stake Tuesday night.
Trump or any resurgent rival needs a total of 619 to slip past the halfway mark, and 1,237 to clinch the nomination.
Cruz, the conservative firebrand, has put up the toughest fight against Trump, staying within range in the delegate hunt and aiming to become the last challenger standing against the billionaire if Rubio and Kasich can’t win their home states Tuesday.
Rubio has been the mainstream Republican hope in recent weeks, but has only won two contests in 20: Minnesota and Puerto Rico. His last hopes for a turnaround are in Florida.
Michigan (59 GOP delegates, 130 Democratic delegates)
In the last Democratic debate, in Flint, Michigan, Clinton hit Sanders hard for opposing a 2009 bill that provided billions to rescue the auto industry. The Vermont senator is stressing that he opposed the provision because it was part of a large bailout package for Wall Street. He said he supported an earlier, separate bill to aid the carmakers.
Michigan fell into his column; whether that can threaten Clinton’s big advantage at this point is a question more big states will answer. The two debate again Wednesday night.
Should Trump win the GOP nomination, his path to the presidency could be through the Rust Belt. Michigan offered a window into his appeal in the industrial Midwest as he reached out for the economically disaffected and the angry with a message that has engaged Republican voters more broadly than the party and his rivals expected.
Mississippi (40 GOP delegates, 36 Democratic delegates)
Rubio didn’t campaign in the state; the other Republicans did. Neither Clinton nor Sanders made it there.
In achieving victory, Clinton again benefited from a heavy lift from black voters, exit polls found.
Trump has scored well in Southern states despite the appeal of Cruz’s conservatism and Mississippi was another notch on that belt.
Idaho (32 GOP delegates)
Rubio and Cruz made quick campaign stops over the weekend and both have received notable endorsements, as has Kasich. Billionaire Frank VanderSloot, a GOP mega-donor, backs Rubio. Rep. Raul Labrador endorsed Cruz. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said he’d only support a governor, so Kasich was his man. But Cruz prevailed.
Hawaii (19 GOP delegates)
None of the Republican candidates made the long trip to campaign for the small delegate prize in Hawaii’s GOP caucuses. But the Trump-centered debate raging on the mainland played out on the islands, too — enough to push him to victory.
“If candidates are looking to win over the state, then I think they need to be a little bit more open to diversity and a little more centrist about their approach,” Beth Fukumoto-Chang, Republican leader in the state House, said recently.
Nathan Paikai, a minister who led Trump’s campaign efforts in Hawaii, differed with that opinion. “There’s many people out there who say, ‘I don’t like the way he talks,” Paikai said. “My response is, if it’s a soft tone and it’s a lie, do you believe it? What does it matter about tone?”