The states selecting delegates today, Arizona and Utah, are known for their spacious and awesome canyons. So it is fitting they vote as a tandem, as today will see the canyon separating Donald Trump from his competitors widen just a little bit more.
Trump will win the larger of the two, Arizona, largely because it has very favorable demographics for him. It is arguably ground zero for the nation’s illegal immigration problem, making his call for a wall more salient here than elsewhere. It has relatively few very conservative evangelicals, the GOP faction that has thus far proven to be his main rival’s base of support. And it suffered a severe drop in real estate prices following the financial collapse, increasing the reality and the perception of economic dismay that has helped fuel Trump’s rise. Nevada and Florida had similar factors at play, and Trump won with 46 percent of the vote in each state.
Utah, though, is another matter. Heavily Mormon counties in Nevada and Idaho have voted for Ted Cruz by large margins so far, and Mormon icon Mitt Romney’s vociferous opposition to Trump has only intensified recently. Trump not only loses those areas, he gets annihilated. Trump’s share of the vote in heavily Mormon eastern Idaho ranged from a HIGH of 25 percent to a low of under 8 percent. Seventy-five percent of Utah’s population is contained in just four counties: Salt Lake has the lowest Mormon population of those at 56 percent. Expect Trump to not even break 20 percent statewide and Cruz to win all forty of Utah’s delegates by garnering over fifty percent.
I expect Trump to win all 58 of Arizona’s delegates, giving him a 58-40 advantage on the night. State analyses are below.
Arizona (58 delegates) – Arizona is a statewide winner-take-all contest. The polls so far vary in quality, but are remarkably similar in their predicted outcome: Trump by between 12 and 14 points over Cruz. I suspect that will just about right after all the votes are counted.
Arizona encourages early voting, so we should be able to know who won (or if there is even a contest) relatively soon after the polls close. Phoenix’s Maricopa County cast about 60 percent of the vote in the 2012 GOP race, and Tucson’s Pima County cast another 16 percent. Early voting results for these two counties will let us know if staying up late is worth the effort.
My ranges are Trump 41-50, Cruz 29-38, Kasich 15-22. My best guess is Trump 47, Cruz 34, Kasich 16. Trump wins all 58 delegates.
Utah (40 delegates) – Utah awards all 40 of its delegates to a candidate who takes 50 percent or more of the vote. If no one reaches that bar, it awards delegates proportionally based on the statewide vote to all candidates receiving at least 15 percent of the statewide vote. This is why Kasich is campaigning in Utah: if Cruz falls below 50 percent, Kasich will get delegates. The only poll conducted since Rubio dropped out had Cruz at 53, Kasich 29, and Trump at 11 percent. Trump’s extraordinarily low standing is not likely to be an error. The other three Utah polls conducted this year had him at 17, 18, and 21 percent, and Romney’s anti-Trump offensive is clearly drawing blood.
My ranges are Cruz 48-55, Kasich 27-35, Trump 12-19. My best guess is Cruz 54, Kasich 33, Trump 13. Cruz wins all 40 delegates.