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Presidential Horse Race 2016: Utah and Arizona send establishment packing over the border

The results are in from Tuesday’s vote in Utah and Arizona and it shows yet another split-decision for Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in the 2016 Republican presidential race.

Trump won big in Arizona, taking nearly half the vote but not breaking the 50 percent barrier (which he never has, I might add). Cruz won even bigger in Utah, corralling nearly 70 percent of caucus attendees there.

Mexican borderIn winner-take-all Arizona, it means Trump earned 58 delegates. Cruz blasted through the 50 percent threshold in Utah, so he took all of the state’s 40 delegates.

At the end of the day, it means Trump increased his lead by 18 delegates. The Donald now totals 739 delegates to Ted Cruz’s 465. The Republican race’s only other participant, John Kasich, had yet another election where he earned a whopping zero delegates.

Prior to the actual voting there was some talk about how Kasich might keep Cruz under 50 percent in Utah, which likely would have earned him some share of the state’s delegates. Instead, Kasich received just less than17 percent of the vote there. It was more than Trump’s paltry 14 percent, but not nearly enough to deprive Cruz of a huge victory.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, Trump ended up with 47.1 percent to Cruz’s 24.7 percent. Kasich, again, the only other active candidate, came in fourth (behind Marco Rubio) at 10 percent. Rubio was third due to Arizona’s allowing a month’s worth of early voting. He took 13.5 percent.

The results from the two states diverge remarkably considering they share a common border. The difference in Arizona had to be Trump’s perceived tougher stance on illegal immigration, which makes the biggest losers of the evening (in addition to John Kasich) Arizona’s two senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake.

Both McCain and Flake were part of the infamous amnesty-promoting Gang of Eight along with Marco Rubio. Both have been outspoken in using the “compassion” arguments involved with soft immigration policies and both have been roundly rejected in their own state’s presidential primary by an electorate that’s fed up with the ill effects of sharing a border with Mexico.

McCain faces his own primary in August against conservative challenger Kelli Ward and here’s betting after yesterday’s election that he’s sweating bricks in considering the prospect that almost three-fourths of his state’s primary votes went to candidates who promise to not only build a wall, but to deport anyone who’s in the country illegally.

Meanwhile, Utah’s results reveal the potential of what could happen when conservatives consolidate around the last remaining true conservative in the race, Ted Cruz.

Cruz was able to secure the endorsements of most of Utah’s prominent Republicans and it showed at the ballot box. Trump and Kasich can’t realistically compete when there’s unity in the base to not only oppose Trump, but also send a message to the party establishment.

Kasich clearly needs to leave the race. But those in the party establishment who are still sitting on their hands must also get involved, putting their names and resources behind Ted Cruz. There’s still more than enough time to not only stop Trump but also give Cruz a majority of the delegates heading into this summer’s convention.

Reaching 1237 might be a reach at this point for Cruz, but with a united party, anything’s possible. Yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels prove once again that it’s more important than ever to elect a principled leader who can beat Hillary in November. Ted Cruz is that man.

No matter how much Trump and Hillary continue to win, most people still can’t stand them

Regardless of yesterday’s results in Utah and Arizona, Donald Trump remains the leader in the Republican presidential race. How Trump has managed to do so well for so long considering his low overall approval rating is baffling to many – this observer included.

Another poll was released yesterday showing that both Trump and Hillary Clinton are the least popular potential party nominees…ever (or at least since they began asking the question).

Gabby Morrongiello of the Washington Examiner reports, “According to the latest CBS/New York Times poll, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are viewed less favorably than any presidential front-runner since CBS first surveyed candidates' favorability ratings in 1984.

“Fifty-seven percent of U.S. voters hold negative views of Trump, the bombastic billionaire-turned-GOP front-runner, compared to just 24 percent of voters who view him favorably. On the Democratic side, 31 percent of voters view Clinton favorably, while 52 percent do not.”

We all know Trump loves to talk about polls, but he never addresses this particular aspect of opinion surveys and how they universally find him in the dredges when it comes to favorability/likability.

Meanwhile, it’s not hard at all to understand why over half of Americans dislike Hillary. Aside from the fact she’s a proven liar, it’s apparent from her body language and mannerisms she doesn’t even like people. She shies away from retail politicking, doesn’t relate to voters at all and is one half of a political power-couple that’s still married only because they want to suck blood from the other.

It’s to Hillary’s advantage to be associated with Bill, since he remains generally popular and evokes pleasant memories from some Americans of the good ‘ol 1990’s when the economy hummed along and life was simple (can you imagine how the Clinton sex scandal would have been fueled by social media these days?).

Likewise, Bill stays with Hillary because he wants to move back into the White House and do what he does best – feed off the public trough and bask in the favor of his adoring fans.

Just because folks still like Bill doesn’t mean they look fondly on Hillary, apparently. She’d probably say it’s because she’s a woman.

And because Hillary is so unpopular, this year’s election represents a near historic “wild card” for Republicans to run virtually any candidate and win. While I certainly would not rule out a Trump victory in November if he ends up being the nominee, The Donald could be one of few potential candidates who might lose to Hillary.

Why? Because a majority of people don’t like him personally. He’s no Ben Carson.

And it’s not as if he’s a mystery to folks. If there was anyone left in America who didn’t know Trump prior to last summer, the billions in free media coverage of his campaign that’s been semi-permanently etched in our TV screens have cured that problem. Therefore, if so many know him and are set in their dislike of Trump, how would he be able to resurrect his image?

Logically speaking, to be more “likable” to a larger slice of the public, he’d have to become a centrist populist candidate, probably by dumping on the aspects of the conservative agenda that most motivate his conservative followers – traditional marriage, abortion and even some elements of immigration.

If he does that, what happens to his core base?

There’s no getting around it – Trump is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Hillary is trying to win with Democrats by moving further to the left. But that’s probably closer to what she truly believes in any case.

Trump can’t realistically move in either direction because to do so would alienate the same people who’ve elevated him to frontrunner status. And if he can’t become more likable, how can he improve his favorability rating?

Republicans can avoid the entire problem by nominating Ted Cruz. Cruz may not be the perfect candidate in every respect, but he’s a much better choice to run against Hillary this year.

Two more states, two more losses for John Kasich. And he’s running out of money, too

After last week’s first win in Ohio, John Kasich must have figured the floodgates would now open – not only with establishment votes for him as the only not-Trump/Cruz candidate left, but also with donors willing to contribute to his campaign moving forward.

Well, Arizona and Utah showed that no such vote avalanche was forthcoming for Kasich and it looks like the finances aren’t doing much better either.

Streiff of RedState reports, “Right now, for all his bluster, John Kasich is approaching what, in Appalachia, is called nut-cutting time. That time where you have to either accomplish something or fold…

“To be sure, Kasich probably saw a bump in fundraising after around the Ohio primary but his burn rate for non-intense efforts was such that unless he raised at least $5 million over the past two weeks that he is essentially running on empty.”

Streiff goes on to argue Kasich’s lackluster results in Utah and Arizona should give him another clue that he should get out of the race.

Two more states have voted. Two more big losses for Kasich – and in neither state did he even come close to challenging for a win.

If Kasich is indeed nearly out of money, that should be enough of a sign to tell him to quit. If you can’t conduct a realistic campaign with advertising and all the other expensive necessities of running for president, you shouldn’t be there.

Further, the news media should stop treating Kasich like he’s a real competitor and take away his media exposure. Ron Paul didn’t officially leave the 2012 race at all, yet once it was pretty much down to Romney and Santorum, the talkers concentrated on the candidates who still had a shot.

If Fox or any other media outlet continues to give Kasich a microphone, they should hear about it from conservatives.

At that point, we’ll see how far Kasich can get on no money and no free media exposure. Heck, he might have to borrow a nickel to pay for a microphone to bow out of the race.

After 50+ days of furious voting activity, there’re two whole weeks until Wisconsin

Finally today, with Utah and Arizona in the rearview mirror, the race slows down for a bit.

Caitlin Huey-Burns of Real Clear Politics writes, “[Those hoping to stop Trump] are focusing on the April 5 primary in Wisconsin. Following that, there will be another two-week lull until New York's primary on April 19. And, with no more GOP debates scheduled, candidates will be looking for other ways to get their message to voters.”

The last point is particularly interesting, since John Kasich pulled out of Monday’s scheduled debate solely because Trump said he would not participate. Together with his empty war chest, he’s clearly just biding his time until the convention where in some delusional dream he thinks he’ll be able to overcome Trump and Cruz to be the Republican nominee.

There’s already some evidence that Trump and Cruz delegates are combining to deny such an outcome. Kasich is trying to be the “good guy” in the race, but if he keeps this up for much longer, he’ll go down as one of the biggest political goats in history.

If Trump wins the nomination and then tanks in the general election – taking down Republicans across the board – the name of John Kasich will be mud.

Or even that might be too kind.

Let’s hope yesterday’s lessons help him come to his senses.

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