In a little while we’ll know what’s happening in Missouri and Illinois, two states where Ted Cruz has expended a lot of political capital and perhaps his best hopes for putting one in the W column on the latest version of Super Tuesday. If Donalt Trump manages to sweep both of these states on top of Florida (I won’t speculate beyond there since Ed has his own thread on the other two) he’s going to be looking very strong indeed. But if he somehow only won Florida, it would represent a serous hitch in the tracks for the Trump Train. I would speculate on the possibility of Kasich or Rubio winning either of these states, but I’m not certified in predicting miracles. We’ll be doing live updates below here, but to keep ourselves busy until we get some solid returns, let’s take a look at the two states in question.
6:30 am: We’ve given it all night and may as well wrap it up. There are still votes trickling in, but Missouri appears to have gone to Donald Trump by the slimmest of margins. He’s sitting at 40.8% (382,093 votes) to Cruz’s 40.6% (380,367 votes) which is a darned slim margin out of more than three quarter million votes. Congratulations to Mr. Trump on going 5 out of 6 yesterday.
11:15: We’re at 99% of the vote in Missouri and the spread is less than 3,000 votes. Sadly, I’m about to pass out. Trump is in the lead at this point and the difference is important because the state-wide winner will get an extra twelve delegates. The counting of the congressional districts will take a while beyond that.
9:50: Trump takes Illinois. Again, Kasich peeled off a lot more of the vote than projected. Still waiting on Missouri. It’s very close there, but hearing rumors they’ll call it for Trump soon. Could be a sweep for the Donald except Ohio.
9:20: Would love to have more of an update, but both states are still too slow to report and too close to call a winner. One observation is that in Illinois, Kasich is peeling off a lot more votes than expected. Good news for Trump, possibly, but bad news for hopes of a two man race. This may yet take a while. Missouri holding solid at this point with Trump comfortably above f40 and Cruz the only strong challenger.
8:30: Both of these races are still too close to call, but Trump is starting out strong in Missouri. Some of the flashy early numbers have him up near 50 but that should be coming down a ways once we get more precincts reporting. Similarly, Trump is showing a very early lead in Illinois, but the exit polls aren’t generally off that far. Cruz still being projected to be very competitive, if not the winner there.
8:00: And away we go. Missouri was too close to call when the polls closed, but the exit polls are showing a slim, inside the margins lead for Ted Cruz, 43-39. Clearly we’ll need to see the actual returns filling up before we can call that one.
In Missouri it’s another tight one in the exit polls, with Trump on top of Cruz 38-34. Sounds like we might be here for a while so hang in there.
Taking them in reverse order, Illinois is a strange sort of hybrid primary. Tonight 54 of their 69 delegates will be assigned based on the results in each of 18 congressional districts, but there’s a catch: the voters won’t be voting for the candidates. They vote for one of the delegates on the list, each of which is sworn to either one of the candidates or as an uncommitted delegate. The remaining 15 at large delegates are bound to the winner of a state-wide “beauty pagaent” primary where the voters vote directly for the candidate. This has already led to confusion and concerns among the campaigns because all of the voters need to be educated to mark their ballots twice. In the left column they will pick a candidate, but they must also remember to select a matching delegate in the center column. This is called a “loophole primary” for reasons not worth exploring.
As to who will win… Trump held a lead of either 9 or 4 points over Ted Cruz in the last two polls completed this weekend. But he considerably further ahead a month ago, so if this is a sign that Cruz has momentum then he’s peaking at the right time. Look for this one to be close either way.
Missouri is another big one with 52 delegates up for grabs. And yet again, it’s another strange hybrid of a primary. They’ve chosen to add two of their at large delegates to the three they get for each of the eight congressional districts, so the battle in each CD will yield 5 delegates for the winner on a winner take all basis. The remaining 12 at large delegates are all awarded to the candidate with the highest state-wide total.
BUT…. we have an exception. If any candidate gets more than 50% of the state-wide vote total the congressional district results are thrown out and all 52 delegates go to the winner.
Missouri polling has been thin to say the least, but it’s nearly a mirror image of Illinois as of the last samples. It’s Trump leading Cruz by either 7 or 9 points, with Kasich and Rubio way, way back in the dust. This state seems like it should be a much better natural fit for Cruz but at least until now he hasn’t been able to close the sale. Still, the numbers are near the margin of error so we could be in for a surprise.