Republican, Democratic candidates score divided decisions in primaries

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Republican candidate for president Sen.

A voter casts her secret ballot at a Republican caucus Saturday, March 5, 2016, in Chelsea, Maine.
A woman holds a sign as she waits for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at a rally on …
WASHINGTON (AP) – Underdogs found something to cheer in the latest run of presidential nomination contests.
In the Kansas Democratic caucuses, the race was too early to call between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen.
But with Trump yet to win states by the margins he’ll need to secure the nomination before the GOP convention, every one of the 155 GOP delegates at stake on Saturday was worth fighting for.
The votes in the Republican caucuses in Kansas, Maine and Kentucky, plus the primary in Louisiana, were the first tallied since a public rupture that’s pitting supporters of Trump against a collection of establishment Republican figures trying to block his path to the 2016 presidential nomination.
One Republican voter, who wanted to vote for Sanders but could not due to closed primary rules, selected Marco Rubio as a way of negating a Trump vote. “I like Bernie, but I think Hillary had the best chance of winning”.
With a little more than 60 percent of the vote counted, he now has more than 51 percent of the vote so far, with his nearest competitor, Donald Trump, trailing far behind with just 24 percent of the vote.
Overall, Trump had prevailed in 10 of 15 contests heading into Saturday’s voting.
“The map only gets friendlier for us after tonight”, Rubio told reporters during a trip to Puerto Rico, which holds a Republican primary on Sunday.
“I’ve been sitting here for five minutes and two of the three questions you’ve asked have been about Donald Trump”, Rubio said during a question-and-answer session. “And as big as other things, as he says”. “OK, I’ve never done this before…raise your right hand”.
Cruz, a first-term USA senator from Texas who has promoted himself as more of a true conservative than Trump, also won a non-binding “straw poll” of activists earlier in the day at the Conservative Political Action Conference near Washington, DC.
“If we’re going to beat Donald Trump, we’ve got to be united. He’s sexist and he’s racist, and I would hate to see someone like that as a presidential candidate”.
It was easier for GOP hopefuls to gain delegates in the weekend round of voting than it was in the Super Tuesday extravaganza. That means it’s harder to have a breakout that changes the nature of the race.
Kansas and ME were Cruz’s fifth and sixth wins of the Republican primary season, easily fending off Trump in both states.
Rubio, seen by many political observers as the best hope to defeat Trump, issued a forceful repudiation of the frontrunner, challenging him, like many Republicans have, on his conservative credentials.
Beyond the delegate count, Cruz and Sanders can claim momentum as they head toward critical races in MI next Tuesday and then winner-take-all races in the large states of Florida and OH on March 15. Clinton won Saturday’s contest in Louisiana.
Clinton’s substantial margin of victory in Louisiana withstood Sanders’ wins in Kansas and Nebraska. All states in the Democratic race award their delegates proportionally, meaning Clinton can keep piling up delegates even in states she loses.
Overall, Clinton had at least 1,104 delegates to Sanders’ 446, including superdelegates – members of Congress, governors and party officials who can support the candidate of their choice.
The Democratic nominee needs 2,383 delegates.
Marco Rubio, considered the only other Republican capable of stopping Trump, trailed in the races and the front-runner tried to nudge him out the door. Rubio had 116 delegates and Kasich had 28. “I think we’re at a breaking point, I think regardless of who wins, it’s going to be a very divided country”. It takes 1,237 delegates to win the GOP nomination.
Analysts expected Clinton to do well, as she’s done in other Southern states.
Clinton hoped that strong support among blacks in Louisiana would propel her to victory.
On the Republican side, Louisiana has tended to vote for conservative, evangelical candidates.