Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas stormed to a surprisingly easy victory in the Kansas Republican caucuses Saturday, outpacing businessman Donald Trump more than 2-to-1.
In the Democratic caucuses, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont beat Hillary Clinton by taking more than double the number of delegates in a state that she also lost to Barack Obama in 2008.
In contests in other states, Clinton and Trump won in Louisiana, Trump won in Kentucky, Sanders took Nebraska and Cruz won in Maine.
The results marked still-fractured races. Trump and Clinton remain the heavy favorites to take their parties’ nominations, but neither appeared truly invincible.
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With all the regular votes counted in Kansas, Cruz had the support of 48 percent of the state’s Republicans. Trump had 23 percent, with Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at almost 17 percent. Gov. John Kasich of Ohio captured 11 percent.
“Thank you Kansas!” Cruz tweeted Saturday night.
For the Democrats, Sanders had 68 percent of the vote to 32 percent for Clinton. That gave Sanders 23 convention delegates, and Clinton 10.
Cruz will collect 24 GOP convention delegates from Kansas, a state GOP official said. Trump will collect nine, Rubio six and Kasich one.
The results don’t include absentee ballots, or provisional ballots cast by voters not found on caucus registration lists. If and when those votes are counted, the delegate allocations could shift.
In a late-night news conference, Trump offered congratulations to Cruz for his victories. “I want to really thank the folks from Maine and from Kansas,” he said. “We came in second, and we really didn’t spend much time — two hours in one place, 2 1/2 hours in the other.”
While Cruz’s caucus victory may have been a mild surprise, the margin stunned analysts. Trump’s overwhelming defeat reflects a problem for his campaign: In primaries open to Democrats and independents, he typically prevails. In caucuses, where only registered Republicans can vote and where organization matters more, the flamboyant TV star stumbles.
Cruz’s win came partially from a far superior organization in the state, analysts said. His campaign manager is Kansas City political consultant Jeff Roe.
Trump had only one major Kansas endorsement, from Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and virtually no campaign presence in the state. Trump spoke to Kansas voters only on the day of the caucuses, in Wichita. Cruz came to the state twice in the final days before the voting.
“Cruz had more of a ground mobilization campaign in Kansas than Trump did,” said Chapman Rackaway, a political science professor at Fort Hays State University. “Evangelical candidates like Cruz tend to benefit from church mobilization very strongly.”
The Kansas results represented a setback for Rubio, who barnstormed the state in the final hours of the caucus. He had the endorsements of Gov. Sam Brownback and former Sen. Rick Santorum, who won the 2012 presidential GOP caucus in Kansas.
That didn’t appear to help.
Cruz’s appeal to social conservatives shone clear Saturday.
“He’s a good Christian man, a good moral man,” said Zach Thompson, who caucused for Cruz at Shawnee Mission West High School. “I don’t like politicians. They’re all a bunch of whiny babies.”
For Democrats, the Kansas caucus results were also a mild surprise, partly because Sanders won by such a large margin.
Sanders’ campaign had seemed to stall after his runaway win in New Hampshire. Clinton beat him handily in both South Carolina and Nevada, states with larger minority populations who gravitated to Clinton. Kansas, like Iowa and New Hampshire, is less demographically diverse.
While Trump triggered fierce division in the Republican Party, Democrats waiting to caucus in Roeland Park largely said they could happily back either Clinton or Sanders.
“I love Bernie Sanders, too,” said Jean Nicholls of Fairway. “I just think (Clinton is) the only one who can beat a Republican.”
Alex Hedgepath of Mission came to back Sanders because he believes the self-declared democratic socialist has stronger convictions and a sense of social justice.
“He cares about the middle-class person,” said Hedgepath, who was a Republican until two years ago. “You know what he stands for.”
That Democratic caucus drew thousands who gathered in a line that snaked through a leafy neighborhood for at least a quarter mile. Organizers said it appeared as large as their 2008 caucus, when Obama beat Clinton in a heated primary contest that dragged on for months.
After news of the Kansas win for Sanders broke, his campaign issued a statement of thanks.
“People used to ask, ‘What’s the matter with Kansas?’ ” the Sanders release said. “It turns out that there’s nothing the matter with Kansas when you give people a clear choice and involve them in the democratic process.”
Saturday’s results came in after large crowds turned out across the state for both Democratic and Republican votes.
Republican caucus sites ran out of ballots, turning instead to note cards or rushing to the local copying store for more.
At the Shawnee Mission East GOP caucus, a two-hour wait was typical. Under bright skies, voters waited patiently for their chance to be heard.
“I don’t mind at all,” said Syd Taylor of Prairie Village as he waited in line. “I want to hear what other people have to say.” He said he planned to cast his ballot for Kasich.
“We have good candidates. I think that’s probably the problem,” said Jo Ann Boyer, who arrived at her caucus still pondering her options.
But Boyer — and others at the GOP sites — routinely expressed exasperation with the state of government and politics.
“Nothing’s getting done,” she said.
Others sharply criticized the tone of the Republican campaign.
“It’s the most disgusting campaign I’ve ever seen,” said Debra Miner of Overland Park. “I’m so disappointed. … I know they can get bad, but this is far beyond that.”
Trump supporters said gridlock moved their votes to the businessman.
“I’m tired of the establishment,” said Trump supporter Phil Hammond of Lenexa. “And he is the one that’s creating all the emotions out there, getting more people out than probably would have if it would have just kept with traditional candidates.”
The Cruz-Trump clash in Kansas began early Saturday, when both candidates appeared at a caucus site in Wichita.
“I will not compromise away your religious liberty,” Cruz said.
Trump, who spoke an hour earlier, appealed for Kansas votes by saying he would be angry if they supported someone else.
“We don’t win anymore,” Trump said. “We don’t win.”
But the candidate’s last-minute appearance may not have helped as much as the campaign would have liked. Kansas GOP officials said a large number of provisional ballots were cast at some caucus sites, suggesting some voters were either unregistered or not registered as Republicans.
Many first-time voters, including Democrats and independents, have cast ballots for Trump in other states. His supporters could not register on the spot to vote for Trump in Kansas.
100 percent of the vote
Sanders 68 percent
Clinton 32 percent
99 percent of vote
Clinton 71 percent
Sanders 23 percent
84 percent of vote
Sanders 57 percent
Clinton 43 percent
100 percent of vote
Cruz 48 percent
Trump 23 percent
Rubio 17 percent
Kasich 11 percent
100 percent of vote
Trump 36 percent
Cruz 32 percent
Rubio 16 percent
Kasich 14 percent
99 percent of vote
Trump 42 percent
Cruz 38 percent
Rubio 11 percent
Kasich 6 percent
100 percent of vote
Cruz 46 percent
Trump 33 percent
Kasich 12 percent
Rubio 8 percent