Donald Trump Wins Arizona Primary, Adding to Delegate Lead

Donald Trump took all of Arizona's delegates on Tuesday night, while Utah, where Senator Ted Cruz is favored, remains too close to call.
March 23, 2016, 3:20am
Photo via Erik Lesser/EPA

Donald Trump won Arizona's primary on Tuesday, earning yet another big victory and a full slate of delegates in a winner-take-all state.

Trump defeated Senator Ted Cruz in the state, after consistently leading the Texas senator in recent polling. Trump will take all 58 of the state's delegates Tuesday night.

As votes are still being counted, Trump lead Cruz 47-21 percent. Ohio Governor John Kasich trailed the top two candidates in the state on Tuesday with 10 percent of the vote. Although results are still very early, Kasich may actually come in fourth behind Senator Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the race last week thanks to a huge number of early voters in the state who have been casting ballots for a month.

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The candidates are also competing in Utah tonight, but that race remains too close to call.

Before Tuesday night's contests, Trump lead Cruz by just more than 250 delegates. With the results in winner-take-all Arizona, Trump will expand on that lead.

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Arizona is the third largest winner-take-all state in the Republican race this year and could be an important bellwether for how Californian Republicans will vote in their primary in June. California holds the most delegates of any state in the Republican contests this year, although unlike in Arizona, they are delivered on a proportional basis.

Trump's Arizona win was aided in part by his hardline stance against immigration, which is a top issue in the state and a centerpiece of Trump's campaign. He has called for building a wall on the Mexican-US border and wants to deport millions of undocumented workers from the country.

Trump was also aided with endorsements from several prominent Arizona figures who gained national attention, and controversy, for their similar positions on immigration. Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has named himself "America's Toughest Sheriff," and former Republican Governor Jan Brewer campaigned for Trump ahead of the Tuesday primary.

Trump's tough stance on immigration may have helped him win Arizona, but it is also working against him in Utah, where 60 percent of the population is Mormon. Members of the church largely oppose his anti-immigration policies and Trump is expected to lose the state to Cruz tonight.

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Adding another wrinkle in Arizona on Tuesday were early and absentee voters. In 2012, roughly 75 percent of the Republican electorate voted early and this year 371,693 GOP voters cast their ballots before Election Day. Arizonans have been voting early or absentee for about a month, meaning that many of those ballots may include votes for Senator Marco Rubio and other candidates who have since dropped out of the race. Cruz, who is trying to prove himself as the alternative to Trump, could have used those voters.

Although Cruz trailed Trump by double-digits in Arizona polling, he didn't given up on the state. His campaign has been airing television ads there since March 12, focusing on his toughness toward border security. A win there, coupled with Utah, would have brought him closer to stopping Trump from getting the 1,237 delegates required to secure the GOP nomination. But given Arizona's winner-take-all status, Trump leaves the state with all 58 delegates.

Ohio Governor John Kasich, who is struggling to make inroads in the Republican race, came in third in Arizona on Tuesday and is expected to do the same in Utah. Kasich is quickly running out of money to continue his campaign for the nomination. He has only won his home state of Ohio and currently trails Cruz in the race by nearly 300 delegates.

The Republican candidates will compete again in Wisconsin on April 5.

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @obecker928

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