Senator Marco Rubio beat Ohio Governor John Kasich by a hair in the District of Columbia's Republican primary on Saturday. Rubio won 37.3 percent of the vote, while Katich trailed closely behind with 35.5 percent of the vote.
Just six percent of DC's population are registered Republicans, so while Rubio's victory doesn't translate into a huge number of delegates, it does indicate who establishment GOP voters in the nation's capital see as viable alternatives to the race's current frontrunner Donald Trump.
DC is Rubio's third victory — after winning Minnesota and Puerto Rico — and could be just what he needs ahead Tuesday's vote in his home state of Florida, which he has assured voters he will win. Similarly, the vote of confidence from the GOP establishment could help Kasich when voters cast their ballots on March 15. Kasich has yet to win a single state.
The GOP conducted a straw poll two weeks ago in DC which foresaw a different outcome than what happened on Saturday. When that poll was conducted, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was still in the race. Those results favored Trump, followed by Rubio, Cruz, Kasich and Carson, respectively.
Instead, the property tycoon received 13.8 percent of the vote, and Cruz came in last with 12.4 percent.
Rubio's campaign spokesman wrote on Twitter that the fact that a son of Cuban immigrants won over establishment Republican voters suggests that the tides are changing in DC.
José Cunningham, who chairs DC's Republican Party, said Saturday that allocation of the 19 delegates at stake would be proportional to the number of votes each candidate received. The close finish between Rubio and Kasich could mean they receive the same number of delegates.
Super Tuesday's Republican primary in Virginia on March 1 was promising for Rubio's DC win on Saturday. The Florida senator won almost 50 percent of the vote in suburban Arlington and Alexandria in Virginia, just across the Potomac River from DC, and about 40 percent of Fairfax and Loudoun counties. Much of the electorate in those areas is comprised of lobbyists, party insiders, and Washington staffers who commute into the city.
Trump won overall in Virginia with 35 percent, but Rubio came in at a close second with 32 percent.
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In other races on Saturday, Cruz won nine out of 12 delegates in Wyoming. In Guam, Republicans selected the delegates who will go to the GOP convention in July — but those delegates haven't pledged to any candidate.
There was just one Democratic contest on Saturday, in the Northern Mariana Islands, which Hillary Clinton won.
Tuesday is expected to be a decisive day on the path to the GOP nomination, with five key states — Illinois, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Missouri — holding primaries. Polls indicate that Trump still holds a significant lead over the other three Republican candidates, and he could secure the nomination with a strong showing.