Liveblog: What’s the Caucus with Kansas? Update: AoSHQDD calls it for Cruz. Update: Cruz wins CPAC straw poll; Update: Nets call Kansas for Cruz

posted at 2:31 pm on March 5, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

5:44 – Now, all of the nets are calling it for Cruz. Seems like they waited a little long, but at any rate, it’s a big win for Ted Cruz and his supporters in a state where what little polling existed pointed to a Trump win.

5:18 – With 33% of precincts reporting, Cruz’ lead hasn’t changed — 48.9/24.7. Kasich’s in last place, but he’s right at the threshold for at-large delegates at 10%.

5:03 – Cruz wins the CPAC straw poll with 40% of the vote. Rubio got 30%, and Trump got 15% even after standing up the conference — although much of the voting took place before he backed out.

4:58 – With 29% of precincts reporting in Kansas, the blowout looks real — Cruz almost has a majority of 49.7% to 25.2% for Trump. This might get calls soon from the news outlets.

4:53 – Cruz is up in Maine with 5% of the vote, 48% to 35% over Trump. This might be a big day for Cruz.

4:43 – Now it’s 17%, and Cruz up 49.6/25.6% over Trump, and Rubio still at 13.5%. Results are starting to come in more quickly, and it may not be long now before news outlets declare winners.

4:36 – At 14% in, it’s now 48.5% to 26.4% for Cruz. Quite a difference from the polling in Kansas, even in the past few days, which showed Trump up over the margin of error.

4:28 – With 11% of the precincts reporting, Cruz still has a 49.9/24.9 and 2,000-vote lead over Trump. Rubio is still in the delegate hunt at 13.8%, but Kasich isn’t at 9.7%.

4:25 – Looks like another heavy turnout across the board:

4:13AoS Decision Desk calls Kansas for Cruz:

Delegate allocation matters, though. If Cruz maintains this 2:1 proportion over Trump and Rubio gets the rest, then it helps slow down Trump’s ability to get a majority.

4:09 – With 8% in, Cruz still has a majority of 50.3%, with more than 1500 votes between him and Trump at 24.5%. Rubio’s only scoring 13.7%.

4:00 – Still slow getting results, but Cruz is still getting a majority of voters with 4% in. Only John Kasich has dipped below the 10% threshold, at least in the early results, at 9.2%.

3:40 – And then with 3% of precincts reporting, Cruz’ lead jumped to 750 votes, and 52.6% to 21.1% for Trump.

3:37 – Looks like the results are a little slow to come in, but the first few precincts give Ted Cruz a 150-vote lead over Trump with just under 900 votes counted.

3:12 – This might be why: a new Tarrance Group poll shows Rubio within five points of Trump, 35/30, and Cruz at 16%. It was commissioned by an anti-Trump group, but as Marc Caputo notes, Tarrance Group is a respected polling firm, especially in Florida.

3:03 pm ET – Getting started as caucuses close. Interestingly, Trump has moved from Kansas to … Florida, which holds their primary in ten days, rather than the other three states contested today. Polling shows that Trump’s leading in the Sunshine State, but his arrival there might mean they’re seeing something develop in the state.

Original post follows:

Today four states hold their presidential-preference contests, all restricted to card-carrying Republicans, at least in theory. That opens the possibility of a good day for those candidates not named Donald Trump, or so the campaigns have argued. That hypothesis gets tested today, and the caucuses in Kansas make for a good laboratory. Forty delegates are at stake for proportional allocation, and the Kansas City Star says it’s too close to call:

Thousands of Republicans were expected to caucus at more than 100 sites across the state — and one in St. Louis, where Wichita State basketball fans have gathered for a tournament. Registered members of the party can cast secret presidential preference ballots between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

GOP front-runner Donald Trump held a rally at a Wichita caucus site Saturday morning, before the voting began. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was expected to hold a rally at the same site an hour later.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida barnstormed the state Friday, ending his day in Overland Park.

The presence of all three candidates in the closing hours of the caucus season suggested strategists believed the state was in play, and the outcome too close to call. Trump canceled a planned speech at a conservative conference in Washington, D.C. to campaign in the state.

The polls show something a bit different, although there haven’t been many data points to consider. The only two polls shown at RCP both show Trump up by six points and twelve. The most recent puts Trump in the lead with 35%, with Ted Cruz coming in second at 29% and Rubio at 17%. With the threshold at 10%, all three candidates have a shot at getting delegates, but the allocation in the congressional districts may not reward third place finishes. Therefore, it’s imperative for anyone angling to come out of Kansas with Trump-alternative credentials either win the state or stay close to Trump in second place.

Caucuses will close at 3 ET, and live updates will begin when the counts start coming in. Watch for the updates to come at the top of the post in reverse-chronological order, with the most recent at the top. And if turnout stays this strong, it might take a while for the fate of Kansas’ 40 delegates to be known:

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